An aphrodisiac is defined as a food, drug, potion, or other agent that arouses sexual desire. The term aphrodisiac originates form the Greek goddess, Aphrodite, who was born of sea foam and ruled over love and desire. Many factors contribute to a food item's claim in increasing desire, whether it be the taste, shape, size, or relationship to nature. For thousands of years, people from many cultures the world over have continued the search for the ultimate aphrodisiac. Although no one food or potion has been declared the ultimate aphrodisiac, here are a few which continue to be worth mentioning:
Aniseed - Long believed to have special stimulating powers, aniseed has been used for countless culinary and medicinal purposes in many cultures. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that sucking on anise seeds would increase desire and the plant is known to have female hormone compounds, which have a direct increase on potency and libido.
Almond - A long-standing symbol of fertility throughout history, it is said that the aroma of almonds will induce passion in females and is frequently seen in soaps, creams, and lotions. Sampson courted Delilah with fresh almond branches and ancient Persians perfumed almonds with flower petals before using them in desserts.
Chocolate - Ancient Mayan civilization worshipped the Cacao tree and called it "food of the gods". Folklore indicated that the Aztec ruler Montezuma would reportedly drink 50 goblets of chocolate each day to enhance his libido. In actuality, it is the chemical composition of chocolate that gives its love potion qualities; phenylethylamine and serotonin are potent "feel good" chemicals naturally produced in our bodies that produce a sense of euphoria or happiness when consumed through chocolate.
Chili Peppers - Because they produce sweating, increased heart rate and circulation when consumed, eating chili peppers are said to have the same effect as intercourse. Another reported effect of consuming large amounts of chili peppers is an irritation of the genitals and urinary tract that is similar to sexual desire.
Coffee - Long thought to be a sexual stimulant because it increases dopamine levels in the brain after ingestion, coffee has recently come under the spotlight as being particularly effective for women who infrequently consume the beverage.
Coriander - Used by the ancient Chinese, Medieval Europe and in Ayurvedic medicine, coriander was mentioned in the classic "Arabian Nights" books as curing a merchant who had been childless for 40 years. In the Middle Ages, a popular drink known as "Hipocras" combined many purported aphrodesiacs, including coriander, and was traditionally drunk during weddings. It was exported from Europe to South America, and was eventually banned because it was considered "too effective" in stimulating the libido. Coriander is also known as cilantro.
Ginger - Originally brought to Rome by Egyptian traders, it is said the pure white blossoms of the ginger plant are believed to be a love potion because a woman wearing the scent becomes irresistable. Wheter served raw, cooked or crystallized, ginger stimulates the circulatory system.
Honey - Mead, a fermented drink made primarily of honey, dates back to medieval times and was used not only to increase libido, but to bless new marriages. The ancient Egyptians used honey to cure sterility and impotence, while in ancient Persia, new couples would drink mead together every day for a month after they married, in order to ensure a successful marriage. This period was known as the Honey Moon.
Mint - According to ancient Roman mythology, the nymph Mente was turned into greenery by her jealous rival, Persephone. Even after her transformation, her scent continued to be irresistable to Persephone's husband, Pluto.
Oysters - Marked an aphrodisiac by the Romans as far back as the second century A.D., oysters are known to be high in zinc, which improves sexual potency in males. It has recently been discovered that oysters also contain D-aspartic acid and NMDA - two compounds effective in releasing sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
Pine Nuts - People have been using pine nuts as an aphrodisiac since Medieval times. Like the oyster, pine nuts are a rich source of Zinc, a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency.
Truffles - The musky scent of rare truffles is said to stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch.
Vanilla - Both the scent and taste of vanilla is said to increase libido. In the 1700's, vanilla was prescribed by physicians and alchemists to be drunk as an infusion to ensure male potency.
Wine - By relaxing the body and stimulating the senses, a glass of wine with dinner can greatly enhance a romantic evening. Too much alcohol will become a depressant and make you drowsy, so be sure to keep it in moderation.