The biggest and most popular myth that has survived down the ages is about "aphrodisiacs". Centuries ago, people believed that aphrodisiacs had magical powers to open up the gates of divine sexual pleasures and fantasies. That belief exists even today. Almost in every corner of the world people still use aphrodisiacs to rev up their sex lives. It could be something as ordinary as banana or vanilla or as absurd as zebra tongue or tiger penis. All kinds of common and peculiar foods, beverages, drugs, magical potions, and chemical concoctions have been tried as aphrodisiacs to enhance sexual pleasure, energy and drive.
Named after "Aphrodite", the Greek goddess of love, beauty and fertility, "Aphrodisiacs" are those substances that supposedly induce or boost sexual desire in a person. Several herbs, chemicals, plants, drugs, foodstuffs, and other substances are claimed to have positive effects on the human sexual function. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. Also, many so-called aphrodisiacs can be potentially toxic and thus, harmful. It is absolutely not advisable to try anything without scrupulously researching it first. It may be difficult to find authentic and accurate information because of a lack of scientific evidence on the efficacy and safety of certain substances in human beings. Non-prescription drugs, vitamins, plants, herbs and supplements that claim to enhance sexual function or alleviate erectile problems are mostly found to be ineffective.
Some of the popular foodstuffs that people have consumed as aphrodisiacs are oysters, bananas, asparagus, carrots, and avocados. People have traditionally endowed them with aphrodisiacal properties probably because of their resemblance to sexual organs. Garlic is another widely accepted stimulant. So are nutmeg and almond. According to stories, application of almond paste awakened passion in a female, just as the scent and flavour of vanilla increased lust. Chocolate is universally appreciated as an aphrodisiac. They are believed to create feelings of ecstasy and unbridled bliss.
Some deadly aphrodisiacs
There are other more prized and deadly aphrodisiacs. For instance, the rhinoceros horns that bears a phallic symbol, is used in many cultures to perk up sexual performance. Zebra tongue and tiger penis are also believed to boost masochism.
However, the most famous and potent aphrodisiac of all is considered to be the spanish fly, a powder made of ground-up beetle. It makes the blood vessels around a woman's genitals dilate and throb, giving her the false sensation of sexual arousal. If a woman takes it internally, it causes inflammation and irritation of the urinary tract, which could result in permanent damage to her urinary system. Luckily, it is not available anywhere in India. What is available in the name of spanish fly is a fake remedy.
Yohimbine chloride - a standardised form of Yohimbine - one of the few drugs approved in the US for treatment of impotency, is found to be useful only in some cases of erectile dysfunction. Controlled studies in USA suggest it is not always an effective treatment for impotence, and evidence of so-called increased sex drive is purely anecdotal.
What about viagra?
Very effective drugs like Sildenafil citrate [viagra] and Tadalafil [forzest] are now available in India for the complaint of inability to "sustain" the erection. These drugs also cannot bring about an "artificial" erection in a flaccid penis. They only help to "sustain" the existing normal erection longer. These drugs are useless in those who have difficulty in getting an erection. They absolutely do not enhance libido or induce sexual desire. They help only those who get an erection "on their own" but cannot sustain it long enough to perform satisfactory sexual intercourse. It is not advisable to take these drugs without consulting a qualified specialist. There are risks involved in taking them. People should not be under the false impression that use of aphrodisiacs can set you on fire sexually or can solve all your sexual inadequacies. Although countless research and studies are being done the world over about aphrodisiacs and their effect, nobody has been able to prove successfully that aphrodisiacs stimulate sexual desire in human beings. No scientific confirmations have been made yet about chemicals permeating the hypothalamic region of the brain, the region that controls sexual desire.
Aphrodisiacs - a placebo
Regardless of whether or not aphrodisiacs work on the body, the power of "suggestion", psychologically, is the key. If one believes that using any particular substance - alleged aphrodisiac or not - will help enhance his or her sex life, then it can help bring about sexual desire and arousal at least in the short-term. But, this is more psychogenic and a self-suggestion; the substance merely works as a placebo. Of course, a well-rested body, adequate time, privacy, a conducive environment, confidence in your contraception, a relaxed state of mind, and an attraction for the partner may do just the same thing. As I always say, "Love is the greatest aphrodisiac" that never fails, and that has been proven time and time again. What drugs cannot do.... love can do. "True Love" is the most powerful stimulant and aphrodisiac. If the couple does not feel for each other, they could consume the entire world's oysters, tiger penis or spanish fly but it will all be in vain.
The second most important aphrodisiac is your health. If you are in good health - not suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other diseases - and you are relaxed, then you can lead a healthy sexual life. Then you don't need an artificial agent to get aroused.
People frequently ask me "Doctor, which is the best diet for sex?" And I often repeat this line, "what is good for your heart is also good for your penis".
Eat the right food and lead a healthy lifestyle, and you will be naturally stimulated when required. Sexual desire or drive cannot be induced with the help of an outside agent; it has to come from within.
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