Consider the Oyster: A Brief History of Aphrodisiacs

Consider the Oyster: A Brief History of Aphrodisiacs

Anjali Prasertong
Feb 14, 2011

Aphrodisiacs existed long before Valentine's Day. A virility-seeking Babylonian in 800 BC, for instance, would cut the head off a partridge, eat its heart and drink its blood, while ancient Greeks ate sparrow brains for the same reason.

Last week the Guardian UK took a look at aphrodisiacs around the world. Do any of them actually work?

Mostly the answer is no. Although a 2005 study found that amino acids in oysters stimulated the production of sex hormones in rats, there is no evidence that foods like sea cucumber, foie gras or fugu have any affect on levels of lust. The FDA has stated quite firmly that "sexual enhancement products that claim to work as well as prescription products are likely to expose consumers to unpredictable risks and the potential for injury or even death."

But there are two substances that actually work. The first is spanish fly, a type of beetle which when crushed and ingested irritates the urethra and causes priapism, "a not remotely funny condition in which men sustain an erection for hours." Yikes. The other is yohimbe, an extract from the bark of a West African tree of the same name. Unfortunately, its risks are anxiety, seizures and high blood pressure.

Check it out: Aphrodisiacs: the food of love? - Guardian UK

We'll be sticking with red wine and our favorite short ribs recipe this Valentine's Day. How about you?

Related: Naturally Sweet Valentines: Free Fruit Sticker Download

(Image: Flickr member D Sharon Pruitt licensed under Creative Commons)

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