Yup, Goat Testicles Could Spice Up Your Sex Life
Whether it's just for fun or you want to have a kid.
The word aphrodisiac was coined after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, desire and beauty, and aphrodisiacs themselves have been used by many cultures since ancient times.
Curiosity continues today, and I've often been asked by clients if I know of any aphrodisiacs that might help them improve their sex lives.
In the ancient world, human fertility was an important moral and religious issue and aphrodisiacs were sought to secure both male and female potency. Food was not always readily available and malnourishment could create loss of libido and reduce fertility rates. There was a belief that food with shapes resembling genitalia was stimulating and helped maintain the body in better working order.
The association between food and eroticism is important, but do we know which foods have more aphrodisiacal qualities than others, which ones have the greatest reputation for potency and fertility? And do any of them actually work?
The most popular aphrodisiac is the oyster, made famous by the legendary 18th-century lover Casanova, who is supposed to have eaten 50 oysters every day for breakfast. Oysters look like female genitalia and are high in zinc, a nutrient that was lacking in people's diets in those days. Oysters are said to raise testosterone levels in men and they also contain levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates sexual arousal.
A team of American and Italian researchers analysed a group of shellfish that included oysters, and found they were rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. This link was announced in 2005 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society by Professor George Fisher at Barry University in Miami and generated a lot of interest because it may have been be the first real scientific evidence.
In ancient India, young men would eat goat testicles that had been boiled in milk to act as an aphrodisiac. In parts of Asia, fresh snake blood or bat blood is popular, as are deer, tiger penises, shark fins and ground rhinoceros horn, putting some of these animals at risk of extinction.
For centuries, figs were looked on as one of the most luscious fruits, because when they are split down the middle, the pink flesh resembles a woman's vulva. Author DH Lawrence dedicated a poem called Figs to their sensuality.
The phallic shape of bananas makes them very suggestive; they were the earliest cultivated fruits in India. Their sexy reputation extended to many other cultures and, according to some Islamic stories, the banana, not the apple, was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Bananas are packed with potassium and vitamin B12 to elevate energy levels and also contain bromelain, an enzyme that triggers testosterone production.
According to Greek mythology, the first pomegranate tree was planted by Aphrodite, bursting with ruby red seeds when sliced open, the fruit has long been associated with reproduction and fertility. Studies have shown that the pomegranate's antioxidants increase blood flow and testosterone levels.
The Aztecs called chocolate the "food of the gods". Dark chocolate contains the mood-lifting brain chemical phenyl-ethylamine and serotonin, which act on the pleasure area of the brain to give a happy and positive feeling. And in Elizabethan times, prunes were so highly regarded as aphrodisiacs that they were served free in brothels.
Scents are also a key element for arousal. Our sense of smell is tied directly to the part of our brain linked to memory and emotion and can be more sensitive than our sense of taste.
The aromas of cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic are known to stimulate the arousal centres in the brain, and garlic's anti-clotting properties may also affect libido by increasing blood flow to the brain and sex organs. For women, parsley, and especially truffles, have aromas that are very much like androstenol, a pheromone responsible for men's sometimes musky body smell, which is known to influence female arousal.
So what do I tell my clients?
Regardless of whether aphrodisiacs work, the power of suggestion – both psychologically and emotionally – is the key. If a person believes that using any particular substance will help enhance his or her sex life, and is receptive to that belief, then it can help bring about sexual desire and arousal.