Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Biological: Behavioural genetics · Evolutionary psychology · Neuroanatomy · Neurochemistry · Neuroendocrinology · Neuroscience · Psychoneuroimmunology · Physiological Psychology · Psychopharmacology (Index, Outline)

An aphrodisiac is an agent which is used to increase sexual desire [1]. The name comes from the Greek goddess of Sensuality Aphrodite. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the desired results may be because their users have chosen to believe they will be effective (the placebo effect). Medical science has not substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance.[2]

A rhinoceros horn, believed by some to have aphrodisiac properties.

Some aphrodisiacs appear to gain their reputation from the principles of sympathetic magic, e.g. oysters, due to their shape. This also explains the trade in the phallic-looking horn of the rhinoceros, which is endangering this animal. Other animal-based aphrodisiacs gain their reputation from the apparent virility or aggressiveness of the animal source — such as tiger penis — also endangering the species.

Aphrodisiac drugs[edit | edit source]

Testosterone[edit | edit source]

Libido is clearly linked to levels of sex hormones, particularly testosterone.[3] When reduced sex drive occurs in individuals with relatively low levels of testosterone[4] (e.g., post-menopausal women or men over age 60[5]), testosterone supplements will often increase libido. Approaches using a number of precursors intended to raise testosterone levels have been effective in older males,[6] but have not fared well when tested on other groups.[7]

Yohimbine[edit | edit source]

Yohimbine is the main alkaloid of Yohimbe. As a weak MAO inhibitor and alpha-adrenergic antagonist, yohimbine may increase genital bloodflow and sexual sensitivity for some people.[8][9]

Bremelanotide[edit | edit source]

Bremelanotide, formerly known as PT-141, is currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of sexual arousal disorder and erectile dysfunction. It is intended for both men and women. Preliminary results are encouraging.[10]

PEA[edit | edit source]

There is some debate in lay circles as to whether a chemical called phenylethylamine present in chocolate is an aphrodisiac. This compound, however, is quickly degraded by the enzyme MAO such that significant concentrations do not reach the brain.

Other drugs[edit | edit source]

Stimulants affecting the dopamine system such as cocaine and amphetamines (e.g. Methamphetamine, aka Crystal meth) are frequently associated with hyperarousal and hypersexuality, though both may impair sexual functioning, particularly in the long term.

Drugs not considered aphrodisiacs[edit | edit source]

Psychoactive substances like alcohol, cannabis,[11] and MDMA are not aphrodisiacs in the strict sense of the definition, but they can be used to increase sexual pleasure and to reduce sexual inhibition.

Anti-erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra and Levitra, are not considered aphrodisiacs because they do not have any mood effect.

Aphrodisiac foods and herbs[edit | edit source]

Some natural items purported to be aphrodisiacs when ingested (not at all exhaustive):

Some newly introduced exotic foods often acquire such a reputation, at least until they become more familiar; for example:

External links and references[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Definition at
  2. Article on aphrodisiacs at the US Food and Drugs Administration website.
  3. R. Shabsigh (1997). The effects of testosterone on the cavernous tissue and erectile function. World J. Urol.
  4. Goldstat, Rebecca, Esther Briganti, Jane Tran, Rory Wolfe, Susan R. Davis (Sept. 2003). Transdermal testosterone therapy improves well-being, mood, and sexual function in premenopausal women.. Menopause 10 (5): 390-8.
  5. Gray, P.B., A.B. Singh, L.J. Woodhouse, T.W. Storer, R. Casaburi, J. Dzekov, C. Dzekov, I. Sinha-Hikim, S. Bhasin (2005). Dose-dependent effects of testosterone on sexual function, mood, and visuospatial cognition in older men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab..
  6. Brown, G.A., Vukovich MD, Martini ER, Kohut ML, Franke WD, Jackson DA, King DS. (2001). Effects of androstenedione-herbal supplementation on serum sex hormone concentrations in 30- to 59-year-old men. Int J Vitam Nutr Res.
  7. Brown, G.A., Vukovich MD, Reifenrath TA, Uhl NL, Parsons KA, Sharp RL, King DS. (2000). Effects of anabolic precursors on serum testosterone concentrations and adaptations to resistance training in young men.. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.
  8. Adeniyi, A.A., Brindley GS, Pryor JP, Ralph DJ. (2007). Yohimbine in the treatment of orgasmic dysfunction. Asian J Androl.
  9. Kovalev, V.A., Koroleva SV, Kamalov AA. (2000). Pharmacotherapy of erectile dysfunction.. Urologiia.
  10. King, S.H., Mayorov AV, Balse-Srinivasan P, Hruby VJ, Vanderah TW, Wessells H. (2007). Melanocortin receptors, melanotropic peptides and penile erection.. Curr Top Med Chem..
  11. Cannabis Puts Females in the Mood for Love. Mark Henderson, The Times. URL accessed on 23 August, 2007.
  12. Ang, H.H., M.K. Sim (1997). Eurycoma longifolia Jack enhances libido in sexually experienced male rats.. Exp Anim..
  13. Ang, H.H., Lee KL, Kiyoshi M. (2004). Sexual arousal in sexually sluggish old male rats after oral administration of Eurycoma longifolia Jack.. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol..
  14. McKay, D. (2004). Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence.. Altern Med Rev..
  15. Cohen, A.J., Bartlik B. (1998). Ginkgo biloba for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.. J Sex Marital Ther..
  16. Sandroni, P. (Oct. 2001). Aphrodisiacs past and present: a historical review.. Clin Auton Res. 11 (5): 303-7..
  17. Murphy, L.L., Lee TJ. (2002). Ginseng, sex behavior, and nitric oxide.. Ann N Y Acad Sci..
  18. Gonzales, G.F., Córdova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, Góñez C. (2003). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men.. J Endocrinol..
  19. Gonzales, G.F., Córdova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, Góñez C, Castillo S. (2002). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men.. Andrologia..
  20. Karras, D.J., Farrell SE, Harrigan RA, Henretig FM, Gealt L. (1996). Poisoning from "Spanish fly" (cantharidin).. Am J Emerg Med..
  21. Gauthaman, K., A.P. Ganesan, R.N. Prasad. (2003). Sexual effects of puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) extract (protodioscin): an evaluation using a rat model.. J Altern Complement Med..
  22. Gauthaman, K., P.G. Adaikan, R.N. Prasad. (2002). Aphrodisiac properties of Tribulus Terrestris extract (Protodioscin) in normal and castrated rats.. Life Sci..
  23. Neychev, V.K., V.I. Mitev (2005). The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence androgen production in young men.. J Ethnopharmacol..

See also[edit | edit source]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.