In the ancient Mayan civilization, the people honored the papaya tree as the sacred “Tree of Life.” In addition to a host of natural healing properties, papaya has long been recognized as a potent aphrodisiac. Visually, some believe the cut papaya fruit resembles a vagina. As a food, the fruit is naturally rich in alkaloids, known to be a central nervous system stimulant. Papaya also contains high amounts of arginine, an enzyme which stimulates blood flow. Similarly, papayas contain fibrin, which is thought to improve the quality of blood cells and maintain the flow of blood in the circulatory system. These compounds may explain why papaya has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac for all genders and even to treat male erectile dysfunction. Papaya is also rich in magnesium, which is not only necessary for the production of the sex hormones estrogen and androgen, but also for the neurotransmitters dopamine and epinephrine, powerful complements to a rewarding intimate experience.
History's most famous lover, Giacomo Casanova, purportedly ate 50 oysters for breakfast each morning to increase his sexual stamina. He wouldn't have known this about his slimy breakfast but what made it work is that oysters are rich in zinc, a mineral that increases the production of testosterone which has been linked to a higher sex drive in both males and females.
Throughout history cinnamon has been valued for its medicinal benefits. Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, the delicate but complex spice can also aid the body as a natural aphrodisiac, with subtle warming effects and as a natural source of manganese, a nutrient essential to sexual health and the overall wellness of skin, bones, metabolism, sight, hearing, and the nervous system.
The pomegranate was sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and in mythology it was she that planted the very first pomegranate tree on the island of Kypros so that the tender fruit could spread throughout the world. With its abundant and staining red juice and many seeds, the fruit is associated with the loss of virginity and female fertility.
A subtropical wild shrub with yellow flowers and fragrant leaves that has a long history of medicinal uses. Known as a sexual stimulant, there are allusions from nearly 500 years ago from Spanish missionaries recording that Mexican Indigenous people were known to drink an aphrodisiac tea made with damiana and sugar. The theory is that the herb promotes circulation to the female sex organs, increasing sensitivity and arousal.
Horseradish, or Armoracia rusticana, is prized for its large, white, edible root. When minced or grated, the enzymes from the plant’s cells produce allyl isothiocyanate, or mustard oil, which has significant antimicrobial properties. Horseradish is referenced in Egyptian writings as far back as 1500 B.C.E. The ancient Greeks cultivated horseradish for its aphrodisiac properties and as a rub for joint pain and rheumatism. According to Greek mythology, the Delphic oracle told Apollo, “The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold.” Throughout the course of history, horseradish has been used as a remedy for asthma, coughs, colic, rheumatism, scurvy, toothache, ulcers, venereal diseases, and cancer. It is a powerful stimulant, whether applied internally or externally as a rub. For practitioners of contemporary homeopathic medicine, horseradish is thought to renew strength and vitality after sexual exhaustion.
Aside from the obvious allusions to shape, coconut oil is believed to possess powerful aphrodisiac qualities, specifically that it promotes and restores the libido. Coconut water has similar levels of electrolytes as found in the human bloodstream, and may improve the quality of blood flow to promote vitality and libido.
Peppermint has long been thought to stimulate sexual desire, particularly in women. In ancient Greece the philosopher Aristotle thought mint such a potent aphrodisiac that he warned Alexander the Great not to let his soldiers partake of any while on crusade. Other ancient cultures believed merely inhaling the scent of peppermint could bring erotic and arousing dreams to women. Peppermint, or mentha piperita, contains high concentrations of menthol, which produces an arousing cooling sensation, and methyl acetate, which imparts the herb’s signature scent. These compounds combine to increase concentration and focus, while tantalizing the body. Some say peppermint’s heady aroma, stimulating effects, and its complement of vitamins and nutrients can result in more intense and powerful orgasms in women.
Tension-relieving and antidepressant, rose has been used since ancient times for love potions, sensual elixirs, and sexual tonics. Cleopatra is said to have bathed in rose water and covered her bed in the soft, pungent petals. The allegedly tempting Egyptian queen didn't know it but rose contains phenylethylamine – the same chemical produced by the brain when you're falling in love, that helps to reduce stress and anxiety, calming negative emotions that can get in the way of arousal.
Though scientists have found that to have any real sexual benefit you would need to eat in excess of 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting (thereby probably negating the need for aphrodisiac qualities) there are small amounts of tryptophan and phenylethylamine in chocolate, both loosely associated with arousal and stimulation.
Frankincense essential oil has been used in rituals, cosmetics, and perfumes for thousands of years and is known to be an aphrodisiac because it helps to balance hormone levels and reduce mood killing anxiety and fatigue.