The most popular natural aphrodisiacs

“There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of most of the substances we consider natural aphrodisiacs,” Jaine B. Swanson bluntly points out on the Mayo Clinic website. It is true that many of the aphrodisiacs that have historically been associated with virility not only do not cause any positive effects on our sexual relationships, but can also be toxic.

This is the case of the Lytta vesicatoria or Spanish fly, which for centuries was used as a kind of natural Viagra since its peck caused spontaneous erection of the penis, but fell into disuse from the seventeenth century as a result of an epidemic of poisonings. Sad is the myth of the rhinoceros horn, considered in China as an aphrodisiac and a medicinal remedy, and has contributed to the extinction of the animal.

Foods such as coffee, alcohol or chocolate can cause physiological effects that lead to a more active sexual life.

However, research has attempted to explain where the good sexual reputation of certain foods or products comes from and to disprove (or confirm) it. The most important of these was conducted at the University of Guelph in Canada, where dozens of studies on plant and animal products with alleged aphrodisiac properties were reviewed, and it was concluded that while there is nothing that can strictly be considered a natural aphrodisiac, there are some products that influence sexual desire.

Indeed, foods such as coffee, alcohol or chocolate can cause physiological effects that lead to a life in the most active bedroom, as sexuality journalist Michael Castleman explains in an article in Psychology Today, in which he also reviews some of the most effective (and sometimes dangerous) products. Forget about tiger penises and whale semen: they don’t work.


Panax ginseng, or red ginseng produced mainly in Korea, has long been used to successfully treat erectile dysfunction problems, according to research published in Food Research International. In a previous study, 45 men with erection problems took 900 milligrams of ginseng three times a day. Two months later, they had significantly improved their sexual potency over the control group. In addition, it is an infusion that increases the production of nitrous oxide, a chemical that relaxes the arteries of the penis allowing greater blood flow.


It is an indol alkaloid obtained from the bark of Pausinystalia johimbe, a tree from central Africa. It has long been used successfully as a treatment for sexual dysfunction in depressed patients consuming SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) thanks, once again, to promoting circulation in the penis. However, its side effects are potentially dangerous, and can appear with less than half a milligram consumed. For years, it was approved by the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and currently can be acquired only after being prescribed by a doctor, although at such a low rate that it probably has no aphrodisiac effects. In Spain, the sale of yohimbine is prohibited, and several products containing yohimbine have been withdrawn because of their hypertensive (in low doses) and hypotensive (in high doses) effects.


Although no study has shown that cocoa increases sexual desire, it is a food that increases the release of endorphins, which improves our mood. This can ultimately affect our willingness to have sex. In addition, chocolate has large amounts of FEA (phenylethylamine), a hormone that is produced in large quantities when we are in love. Perhaps a good shortcut to recover our sexual energy.


It’s not an aphrodisiac in the strict sense, but as a good stimulant it is, it can help us get going, whether it’s a new day’s work, a challenge for which we have to be very concentrated or to perform in bed. Old research at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s showed that coffee, not tobacco or alcohol, determined the increase in the frequency of a couple’s sexual intercourse. Specifically, 62% of women who drank coffee defined themselves as sexually active, compared to 38% of those who did not.

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