(Investigator 60, 1998 May)


Aphrodisiacs are foods, chemicals or routines which are said to make you more of a man or more of a woman.


The word "aphrodisiac" comes from Aphrodite. Aphrodite, according to Homer, was the Goddess of Pure and Heavenly Love. In Greek mythology the sea god Uranus was castrated by one of his sons and the genitals tossed into the sea. A foam formed around them and Aphrodite emerged.

Almost anything, so it seems, has been considered an aphrodisiac at some time:

Lilies; Onions; hyena eyes; peppermint oil; fish; goat testicles; honey; chocolate; broad beans; bull testicles; carrots; coriander; nail parings; wormwood (dangerous in large doses because it contains a hallucinogen); watercress; oysters (Casanova ate fifty every evening); vitamin E; alcohol; almonds; artichokes (these actually cause more wind than sex); strawberries; various herbs; frog's legs; seeds of the plant Acacia farnesia (which worked by repelling mosquitoes which distract from sex); pepper (consumed in quantity this also supposedly repelled mosquitoes); oats; shark fin soup; apple soaked in the lover's armpit sweat; asparagus; sparrow's tongue; marzipan; the full moon. Of course the last is not eaten but works psychologically.

Peter Taberner in Aphrodisiacs: The Science and the Myth (1985) listed 500 supposed aphrodisiacs!

The ancient Romans thought that parsley, one of the most common herbs, "promotes body heat". If a lady didn't say "Yes" the guy would surreptitiously drop parsley seeds into her drink!

Arabs used to seek extra pep by consuming crocodile eyes. Asians, particularly the Chinese and Japanese, consume powdered rhinoceros horn. Rhinoceros horn is not bone but keratin — very similar to what fingernails are made of. A writer in Investigator No. 9 joked: "Potentially therefore, powdered Australian finger nail clippings could become a lucrative export commodity to Asia."

In Hong Kong Prince Charles was handed a deer's tail and told it would cure impotence and improve virility. ''I'd better try it," the Prince said. (Sunday Mail 1989, 11th November, p. 19)

Investigator Magazine inquired of Princess Diana whether: "Charles' virility has noticeably improved." A reply from the "Lady-in-Waiting" noted the question had been received but omitted to supply the answer. (Investigator 1990, No. 14, pp 14-15)

Investigator No. 24 mentioned a Sydney publication, New Age News, which claimed information on achieving 24-minute-long orgasms!


By way of warning that you get professional counsel before trying anything out that you know little about consider some negative happenings.
In a segment called Believable Or Not in Investigator No.3 it said:

POOR PERFORMANCE. A New York man who injected cocaine into his penis to enhance sexual performance developed gangrene after a 3-day erection. Doctors amputated 2 legs, 9 fingers and the penis.

Reject any supposed aphrodisiac that you don't know about. Spanish fly, for example, is a beetle which is ground up and either eaten or applied to the genitals. Its active ingredient is cantharides, an irritant poison that inflames the penis and makes it bigger and seemingly ready. However, the resulting erection is painful and non functional. Spanish fly can lead to urinary problems, strokes, gastroenteritis, kidney damage and death. Nothing stops sex entirely like death!

A report in the Sunday Mail of 1954 told of an office manager who poisoned two female typists with coconut ice containing the poison cantharidin and was sentenced for manslaughter:

[The Chief Justice] told Ford [the office manager]: "Miss Grant was not apparently willing to submit to your desires, but you were determined to administer to her an aphrodisiac or what you believed to be an aphrodisiac..."  (June 19)

In 1909 a dozen officers at the headquarters of the Austrian General Staff each received a packet of pills and a letter claiming the pills were an antidote to loss of virility and: "Take two, one at a time with water about an hour or two before intercourse is to take place. Amazing results…"

The pills contained potassium cyanide and one officer died. They were an attempt at revenge by a member of the Military Academy class of 1905 who hadn't progressed as well as the others. It's a good lesson not to consume substances you know nothing about supplied by strangers! (The Poisoned Potency Pills, Headlines No. 33, May 1974)

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reported on four people in New Brunswick who took clomipramine an anti-depressant drug. The side effect was orgasms whenever they yawned and one took to wearing condoms constantly.


Here we'll consider some magazine and newpaper articles on the topic of potency:

How nutrition can Boost Your Sex Powers (Health Today 1975, No. 14 p. 12)

This one-page article claimed, "Physicians have discovered that the sexual 'fountain of youth' is boosted and extended when the body is adequately nourished."

"Potent foods" include (l) fish, garlic and watercress because these provide iodine, (2) protein (fish, poultry, eggs, beans, cheese, nuts) which keeps the thyroid gland working, (3) lecithin and B-complex vitamins to maintain the pituitary which "dictates sexual power", (4) sunflower, pumpkin seeds, nuts, herring, liver, wheat germ, mushroom and onions because these have zinc which is "Nature's sex tonic."

Aphrodisiacs: Do They Really Work? (The National Times, September 13, 1981)

A client requested "frolic acid and rootin' tablets. "Unfortunately, explained naturopath Dorothy Hall, there are no aphrodisiacs: "There are herbal confidence raisers, but that's all they raise." Ginseng stimulates the pituitary "to conduct the body orchestra a little faster".

Zinc & Sex (Health Today 1984)

This was an advertisement for a zinc supplement and said, "Oysters ... are rich in an essential nutrient crucial to sexual maturity and fertility." The ad listed other rich sources of zinc — meat, liver, eggs, seafood and of course "ZinGo" the zinc supplement.

Passion Potion (Australasian Post, February 20, 1988)

Grandmother Kath Campbell had another baby at 55 and became Britain's oldest mother. She attributed this to an aphrodisiac cocktail consisting of, "one bottle of guinness, two eggs, sugar, rum, brandy or gin, goat's milk and grated nutmeg."

Herbal Aphrodisiacs (Simply Living, Volume 3, No. 10)

A discussion about Aphrodite and other myths followed by a summary of herbal tonics and stimulants: Damino (which contains female hormones and deactivates menopause), Wormwood (for males), Saw Palmetto Berries (used to cure frigidity and make breasts bigger), Passion Flower, Calamus, Mint, Valerian, Muira Puma (for "rituals of love and fertility"), and Mandrake (a "love charm to attract a lover").

There's a fly in my soup! (Truth, April 28, 1990)

Canadian romeos "sharpen their sexual appetites" with pea pod soup. French honeymooners drink tomato soup. Swedes consume reindeer antler soup and South Sea Islanders shark broth!

Did You Know (The News, October 22,1990)

When first introduced to Europe potatoes were considered an aphrodisiac. This pushed their price per pound to $500 in 16th century Europe!

Ginseng has the power of love (Sunday Mail, June 16, 1991)

Ginseng is a perennial plant which grows to 30cm and has greenish-yellow flowers and small, red, edible fruit. The nutrients are in the roots. Ginseng "works through the glands" and "is most suitable in the treatment of sexual impotence in men."

Slugging it out in a sea of love (The Advertiser, October 9, 1992)

This report said six licenses have been issued to harvest northern Australian sea slugs known as "trepang": "The slugs were a delicacy in Asia and were thought to be effective as an aphrodisiac."

Asian markets hooked on eels (The Advertiser, October 31, 1992)

"Eels are wriggling their way up Australia's export list" said this news item. Considered a pest in Queensland the eels are an aphrodisiac in Asia and sell there for $25 per kilo.

Old bid to cash in on cane toad (The Advertiser, March 4, 1993)

This press cutting told of Queensland entrepreneurs being helped to "hop on to demand for cane toad venom which is used overseas in herbal medicine" and "was also popular as an aphrodisiac."

Oxygen powers the potent penis (New Scientist, March 13, 1993)

Successful erection depends on production of nitric oxide in nerves to the penis and by the cell-lining of some penile blood vessels. Production of nitric oxide in turn is enhanced by high levels of oxygen. The blood in an erect penis is fully oxygenated.

Suggested the New Scientist writer: "Forget the oysters — reach for the oxygen cylinder."

Your Sex drive Bigger and better with bodybuilding? asked Jerry Brainum in Muscle & Fitness magazine. His answer was, "Short-term, maximal exercise, such as weight training, appears to raise testosterone levels." However, extended endurance exercise such as long distance running "lowers testosterone levels in men." (p. 98)

Sex key to younger look (The Advertiser, July 31, 1993)

By studying 3000 volunteers whose youthful appearance belied their age, Edinburgh psychologist Dr Weeks concluded, "The best route to looking younger lies in the bed-room." However, ''you need to make it last for at least 20 panting, hip-swiveling minutes, working up a sweat and maintaining the pace…"
(Obvious question: Is the reverse true instead — does youth and/or youthful looks act as an aphrodisiac and promote longer, more vigorous sex?)

New sex pep pill stalled in US (The Advertiser, July 31, 1993)

In 1990 the US Food and Drug Administration refused approval to further test the drug quinelorane — "the world's first pharmaceutical aphrodisiac". The reason was that the drug causes nausea. There was also concern about its effect on sex offenders! The reporter, Melissa King, suggested, "Don't put away your oysters, powdered rhinoceros horns and Chinese herbal potions just yet."

Love potion perks up a panicky penis (New Scientist, August 21, 1993)

Two Israeli scientists developed the substance "Stearyl-VIP" a mixture of stearic acid and vasoactive intestinal peptide. When applied to the penis it penetrates pores and blood vessels and produces an erection without side effects. Tests on castrated rats suggest Stearyl-VIP will cure some kinds of impotence or improve performance.

Seal penis trade boom (Sunday Mail, November 7, 1993)
This item said that a Chinese syndicate wanted Canadian sealers to chop seal penises off for export to Asia. At $75 each the penises are valued for alleged aphrodisiac qualities.

Canned 'love potion' export winner (The Advertiser, January 22, 1994)

Abalone, canned in Tasmania and in Adelaide, sells in South East Asia for $45 per 425g can. Asians consider abalone an aphrodisiac and "The demand ... is virtually insatiable."

Tiger extinct 'in six years' (The Advertiser, April 18, 1994)

This report said that 700 tigers are killed by poachers every year for their bones, penises, pelts and meat: "Tiger penis soup, sold for up to $500 a bowl in Taiwan, is taken by men in an attempt to revive their sexual prowess."

Scientists unlock secret of a woman's arousal (The Advertiser, July 1, 1994)

"Alcohol may act as a female aphrodisiac because it stimulates the production of sex hormones, according to a new study." The hormone which increased as drink increased is testosterone. The effect was more marked during the fertile stage of the menstrual cycle.

Impotency clinics raise hopes (The Australian, May 29, 1996)

Impotency clinics began in 1990 and in 1996 Sydney had twenty. Most cases are treated "as if the problem is physical or mechanical" rather than psychological. The clinics teach clients to inject a solution into the penis with a needle and [they] make additional profit by selling the injecting solution.


The Great Australian Sex Survey done via the Sunday Mail revealed:

…the single most popular food or drink among respondents for creating a sexy mood is alcohol, with a staggering 79% using it as an aphrodisiac.
(What feeds your passion November 17, 1996)

However, The Advertiser reported Beer, meat linked to impotence (December 27, 1997). A British sex therapist attributed impotence to the female hormone oestrogen which is prevalent in beer and also commonly used to alter fat distribution in meat production.

Booze — the bitter pill (Sydney Morning Herald, May 20, 1993)

Research is cited showing that abuse of alcohol may cause impotence as well as aggression and ill health. In moderation it lowers inhibitions and increases desire.

Alcohol "provokes the desire but it takes away the performance." (Macbeth) 

Too much drink can also make you no lover at all. Abuse of alcohol can wreck your brain, destroy your liver, atrophy your testicles and make you impotent and sterile. Who wants all of that??


Pill for impotence (Sunday Mail, March 29, 1998)

The drug Viagra is Food & Drug Administration approved and may help 30 million Americans who have "erectile dysfunction" including cases caused by spinal cord injury, diabetes and emotional problems.

Loaded Gun (The Weekend Australian, April 25-26, 1998)

"Viagra works by enhancing the natural method." A worry is that healthy men "might eat the pills like lollies" and "have sex five times in a night" leading to unforeseen side effects.


A. Yates and W. Wolman in Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality say that no drug or food is a true aphrodisiac. Perhaps Viagra changes that, but it costs $USl0 ($A15) per pill.

What else, therefore, can you do?

Find out about a balanced diet which contains all the nutrients you need and eat it! Find out about exercise appropriate for you and do it! Know how to live so as to be interesting and live that way! Discover how to be romantic and loving and be these things! Study physical and behavioral techniques from books like The New Sensual Massage and Keep Love Alive.

Right food, right attitudes and right behavior are the safest "aphrodisiacs".

Sex-research pioneer Alfred Kinsey recommended five true aphrodisiacs: exercise, good food, fresh air, sufficient sleep, and sunshine.

In a book on how weather effects people Stephen Rosen wrote, "When temperature rises, blood vessels near the skin's surface dilate, and both men and women feel more relaxed and sexy."

Consider all of these things and be a sexual winner!
P. D.