Valentine’s Day is all about love and feeding our (ahem) amorous appetites. Eat to win and the sweet thrill of victory can be yours to share! WHAT you eat, however, is just as important as WHO you eat it with. A leisurely grazing over these 10 natural aphrodisiacs that really work can help spark a thunderstorm of passion over your mutual dessert.
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Though a gift of fine chocolate has long been part of our traditional courtship rituals, there’s more to the dark and delicious delight than meets the eye. Just ask Dr David Lewis, a researcher at the Mind Lab who wired up couples in their 20s and had them melt chocolate in their mouths. The results were titillating to say the least. “There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz,” concluded Lewis, “A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.”
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Although caffeine and theobromine are commonly fingered as the main alkaloid compounds contributing to chocolate’s aphrodisiac effects, studies indicate that methylxanthine is the actual cocoa component responsible. Methylxanthine widens the airways, stimulates the heart rate and increases overall alertness. The latter can help avoid misinterpretation when receiving an invitation to “come up for coffee” long after sunset.
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Saffron has been cultivated for thousands of years and the main method of harvest: plucking the bright red threads from Crocus flowers by hand – remains virtually unchanged. The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (of The Mesopotamians) noted saffron’s properties in a 7th century BC botanical reference, Bronze Age frescoes from the island of Santorini depict saffron gatherers, and Cleopatra was said to bathe in saffron-infused water before initiating any important intimate rendezvous.
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Saffron’s reputed longstanding aphrodisiac properties revolve around Crocin, a natural carotenoid chemical and potent anti-oxidant found in saffron threads. Crocin was the subject of a June 2008 study conducted at the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Tested on male rats, the study “reveal(ed) an aphrodisiac activity of saffron aqueous extract and its constituent crocin.”
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Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) is a psychoactive evergreen plant native to the African continent. Dried and ground yohimbe bark is sold over-the-counter as an herbal aphrodisiac. Ingested in capsule form, yohimbe bark acts quickly to increase blood flow to the genital regions – much like Viagra, though without the annoying side effect of repetitive spam email.
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The active ingredient in yohimbe bark is the eponymous Yohimbine, a tryptamine alkaloid that produces documented stimulant and aphrodisiac effects in humans. Yohimbine Hydrochloride has been approved by the NIH as a prescription treatment for ED, male impotence, and orgasmic dysfunction in men. Now that’s what we’d call barking up the RIGHT tree!
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Known as “Jamaica’s favorite party soup”, this traditional stew received its randy reputation from being served to bridegrooms on their wedding night. The ingredients are undoubtedly fortifying, typically including local herbs and spices, yam, potato, bananas, dumplings and various goat parts – mainly the head, heat and brains. Hot zombie love, can you dig it?
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Performing like a rock star can have a number of meanings, and the Rolling Stones are one of modern music history’s sexiest bands. While their predilection for recreational drug use is well known, keeping up with the never-ending flow of groupies likely spurred band members to seek out natural enhancements as well. How do we know? Consider the name of their 1973 album “Goats Head Soup”, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica (one of the few countries that would allow Keith Richards to enter).
Horny Goat Weed
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Speaking of goats, Horny Goat Weed (or “Rowdy Lamb Herb” for those of a more sensitive disposition) is a flowering plant of the genus Epimedium. The herb is often sold in capsule form at health food stores, though it’s also available fresh in areas where it’s grown as a garden plant. The apocryphal legend surrounding the plant’s extremely direct name concerns an ancient Chinese goat herder whose flock went into a sexual frenzy after grazing on the plants.
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In September of 2008, researchers at the University of Milan, conducted a study into the effects of Horny Goat Weed that found it contained a compound called Icariin. The compound was shown to block the effects of the natural erection-inhibiting enzyme Phosphodiesterase Type 5 (PDE-5) much the same way that Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra does. Icariin more precisely targets the enzyme, however, resulting in fewer side effects. “This could be the natural Viagra,” stated lead researcher Mario Dell’Agli. “The novelty is that we have synthesized a new molecule that one day may be able to replace Viagra.” Not baaad, Mario!