The word "aphrodisiac" alludes to the name of the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite.
Aphrodisiacs are compounds meant to increase or intensify sexual desire, and in their vanity, men have looked for aphrodisiacs perhaps since his prehistory.
In fact, power has multiple meanings: sexual power, political power, financial power, decisional power, and other forms.
Maybe sex supplies a need for power in every male.
But how efficient are aphrodisiacs?
They vary from bogus things to real ones.
Sadly, the most powerless "aphrodisiac" puts other species on the brink of extinction.
Rhino horn is the most useless way of wasting money (a lot of it) and time to achieve nothing; its (illegal) employment in traditional Chinese medicine comes from the performances of the animal (rhino sex lasts from 30 minutes to more than one hour) and its large penis (on average 80 cm of 2.5 feet).
People regarded the horn as the site of the sexual power of the rhino, perhaps because the horns could resemble an erect penis.
For ignorant minds, that's enough to grind them and ingest to get the rhino's powers.
But the horn contains nothing more than keratin, the substance from hair, nail and dead skin.
So, chew your nail, at least it's for free and you do not kill such a superb beast like a rhino.
The same thing passes with other mammalian aphrodisiacs, like tiger penis bone, which for the same people it compasses the tiger's power, including the sexual one.
Of course, it's like chewing chicken or pork bones (or should it be properly dog bone for those doing this?), but the poachers are menacing the wild tigers because such stupid beliefs.
Many boys dream of parties where they give unwittingly cantharidin to girls and this will trigger an orgy.
But this substance, obtained from the beetle named Spanish Fly (photo2), indigenous to southern Europe, is in fact an irritant of the animal tissues.
It has a disagreeable scent and bitter flavor and is often given to farm animals to incite them to mate.
The cantharides excreted in the urine irritate the urethral passages, triggering inflammation in the genitals and subsequent priapism.
For this reason, Spanish fly has been given to humans for purposes of seduction.
It is a dangerous game, as the amount required is very small and the difference between the effective dose and the harmful dose is quite thin.
Cantharides cause painful urination, fever, and sometimes bloody discharge and even permanent damage to the kidneys and genitals.
The victims are usually women who unwittingly consume the powder in a drink.
In 1772, a trial was intended to Marchis de Sade, under the charge of having poisoned some women.
He offered them sweets with cantharidin, but instead of sexual arousal, they got sick.
Ancient Greeks and Romans also knew the cantharidin.
Alcohol is regarded as an aphrodisiac.
Indeed, low amounts decrease inhibitions, but large amounts provoke erectile dysfunction (impotence) due to its action on arteries and veins and decreased libido, because it lowers testosterone levels.
Relying on alcohol to get in the mood or the gut could be a sign of mental problems.
Other drugs, too, trigger impotence, like cocaine and ecstasy.
Chocolate has in its composition, amongst others, two molecules, phenylethylamine and serotonin, that occur also naturally in the brain and trigger the pleasure sensation (are the hormones of the "happiness").
Sex, too, provokes the release of serotonin in the brain, but that's all; chocolate does not rise libido.
Many vegetable foods (bananas, asparagus, carrots, avocados) have got an aphrodisiac meaning only just because they look like a penis or testicle (at least, eating them does mot mean to massacre endangered animal species).
Oysters (photo 3) resemble a vagina, and from ancient Romans to Casanova (who used to eat 50 raw oysters for breakfast) they have been regarded as aphrodisiacs.
Like pine nuts, another ancient aphrodisiac, oysters are rich in zinc, which is necessary for sperm production.
D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, compounds found in oysters raised testosterone amounts in rats, but still, in the case of oysters, autosuggestion seems to work harder.
Some vegetable products are traded as "natural Viagra".
There are several traditional herbs under study for their aphrodisiac properties, and three leading contenders are yohimbe, tribulus and maca.
Too much bark of yohimbe tree (photo4), containing the alkaloid yohimbine, from West Africa can kill you, which is not the kind of stiffness most guys are after.
Controlled studies suggest that it is not a particularly effective treatment for impotence, and evidence of increased sex drive (libido) is anecdotal only.
Tribulus (Puncture Vine) is a widespread weed and also the source of a dietary supplement claimed to increase the body's natural testosterone levels and thereby improve male sexual performance and help build muscle.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) (photo 5) is a plant native to the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru, at 3750-4,350 m (12,500-14,500 feet), grown for its fleshy hypocotyl.
It is regarded as a highly nutritious food and as a medicine that enhances strength and endurance and acts as an aphrodisiac.
Researches performed in men have shown that maca extracts can increase libido and improve semen quality, but larger studies are needed.
Traditionally, maca has been used to enhance fertility in people and animals, for libido, energy and other medicinal purposes.
These are "natural Viagra", but what about the real Viagra?
Even with Viagra, a man needs sexual stimulation and libido (which in fact might have urged him to take the drug).
Viagra just rises blood flow to the penis and stops the blood from leaving, helping in the maintaining an erection.
Some guys may experience serious side effects, but Viagra is still highly employed.
If the cause of sexual impairment in your couple is depression, fatigue or psychological disorder, there's no better aphrodisiac than psychoanalysis.
In fact, keeping penile health is more efficient than any aphrodisiac.
Impotence is triggered by poor physical health, sedentary behavior, diabetes.
"Being in shape, eating healthfully, not smoking and not drinking are all ways to prevent obesity, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease and hypercholesterolemia - - things that significantly impact blood flow," said Dr. Karen Boyle of Johns Hopkins Hospital.
And there's no greater aphrodisiac than a healthy couple relationship, based on respecting your sex partner, and seeing that her/his needs does not resume to vaginal penetration and male ejaculation.
Aphrodisiacs, between Bogus and Reality
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