Spices of Love
Spicing up your love life is possibly no more difficult than a trip to the herb section at your local supermarket.
New research recently published online in the journal Food Research International finds that ginseng and saffron are key to spicing up your sex life.
Both boost sexual performance, according to a scientific review of natural aphrodisiacs done by researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
Science Supports Aphrodisiac Claims
To assess whether commonly used aphrodisiacs actually enhance sexual function and desire, researchers pored over hundreds of studies, and focused on 12 foods that had been the subject of extensive scientific research. Ultimately they only used studies with stringent scientific controls.
They found good evidence for claims for enhancement of sexual performance from:
- panax ginseng
- yohimbine, a product of West African yohimbe trees,
And they found participants had more interest in sex after eating:
- muira puama, a Brazilian flowering plant,
- maca root, a mustard plant from the Andes
- alcohol (but performance impaired)
- and chocolate (performance not enhanced)
Used For Thousands of Years
With potential sexual satisfaction just a grocery aisle away, says Massimo Marcone, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Food Science, “people may be inclined to try common spices such as ginseng, saffron and nutmeg, and there is no harm in doing so.”
Professor Marcone said aphrodisiacs had been used for thousands of years but the science behind them had never been clearly reported or well understood.
“Ours is the most thorough scientific review to date. Nothing has been done on this level of detail before now.”
Need for Natural Solutions
The researchers added there was a need for natural products to enhance sex without negative side effects like headaches, muscle pain and blurred vision associated with synthetic erectile drugs like Viagra. These also don’t help with low sex drive and reduced libido.
“Many of the natural aphrodisiacs looked at in our study both showed evidence of physiological and psychological effects, through treatment of erectile dysfunction and increased libido,” says Marcone.
The researchers said more research was needed to determine effective doses, potential toxicities, and appropriate method of delivery for the foods and herbs.
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- John P. Melnyk, Massimo F. Marcone. Aphrodisiacs from Plant and Animal Sources – A Review of Current Scientific Literature. Food Research International, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2011.02.043