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Better Lovin' Through Biochemistry?


Hope Springs Eternal continued...


Consider the following list, selected from a web site called "Johan's Guide to Aphrodisiacs": alcohol, animal genitalia, animal products, chan su, fruits and nuts, ginkgo, muira puma, onions, oysters, perfume, pine nuts, plants, snake blood, Spanish fly, spices, vegetables.


One of the ingredients listed above, a South American herbal derivative called muira puma, has been looked at by a Jacques Waynberg, MD, a French sexologist, who reported in two separate studies that the drug appears to increase libido in about 62% of men who had complained of lack of desire.


But for most other alleged aphrodisiacs, those who have lost that lovin' feelin' have to rely on anecdote, rumor, folklore, or superstition, and that can be dangerous to the user or to the others. Spanish fly, for example, a legendary aphrodisiac said to be have been used by the Marquis de Sade prior to an orgy, is a toxic compound made from the dried and crushed bodies of blister beetles found in Southern Europe.


In Asian folklore, rhino horns, bear gallbladders, and various parts of the tiger, including the bones, are highly prized for their invigorating qualities, putting the animals at risk for extinction due to widespread hunting.


Some purported aphrodisiacs are not only safe but downright tasty, including pine nuts (an ingredient in classic Genoese pesto), onions, and ginkgo nuts (used in Asian cooking). Whether they tingle anything more than the taste buds, however, is anybody's guess,


"The main problem that we have is that for anything we use for any medical condition, and particularly in erectile dysfunction, the placebo effect is enormous, and unless you have proper studies, you never know," Morales says.


"I would always be suspicious of any product that is being pushed, unless it has been well-defined chemically and there has been some clinical work to demonstrate it," Rodriguez notes.


But as Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, director of the Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Columbia University in New York, points out, when it comes to such treatments, there are three categories: proven, disproven, and unstudied.


"And the ones that are not studied may eventually be proven or disproven," he says. "That doesn't mean they're no good and you shouldn't necessarily use them. It depends on what the options are, and if you have no other options or can't take drugs or don't want surgery, [alternative medicines] may be an option. It's the start of a new era, and I think it's kind of exciting."


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