Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jet Fuel for the Sex Machine

     Throughout the history of human evolution, there have been two types of drugs that mankind has chased after.

     The first type is the drug that allows 'contact with the divine' (see post: Altered States of Consciousness), 'communication with the dead' (see post: A Drug to See the Dead) or drugs which allow the shaman to travel to the 'spirit world' (see post: The Shaman).
     The second type of drug that history has pursued is one that has rarely been restricted to certain persons or groups in society, such as the priest. It is not usually a drug which is kept secret, only to be brought out under special circumstances or during special occasions. It is a drug that answers to every human being's basic desire - the natural urge to reproduce, to have sex. The aphrodisiac is a substance which increases sexual desire or performance.

     It is named after Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology), the Greek goddess of love and sexuality. According to western medical science, there have been no substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or sexual performance.
The Birth of Venus (Botticelli)

     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 alleged results have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (placebo effect). Despite what we know to be true, that any aphrodisiac has an effect only because the user wants it to, the human mind still searches, not necessarily for the truth but rather, searches for what the mind wants to believe.

     In ancient Greece, aphrodisiacs were highly prized and many different types of foods were said to have a positive effect on sexual performance - garlic, certain cheeses, wine. Hippocrates (460-377 BC), is said to have recommended lentils, cooked them with saffron for an even better effect. Plutarch (46-122 AD) suggested fassolatha (a bean soup, the national dish of Greece) as the way to a strong libido, and others believed that artichokes were not only aphrodisiacs but also ensured the birth of sons.

     Edible bulbs were known for their libido-enhancing functions, often mixed with honey and sesame seeds. From the most ancient of times, garlic was believed to have magical and therapeutic properties, and was also considered an aphrodisiac.

     The phallic shape of the leek led the Greeks to believe that this vegetable had sexually stimulating properties. In many pasts of the world, different mushrooms were said to be aphrodisiacs. For the Greeks, the favorite was the truffle. Like garlic, the Greeks ate onions regularly, another edible bulb, believed to be an aphrodisiac.
     Satirio is a type of wild orchid, said to be an aphrodisiac by Dioscorides (40-90 AD). Stafylinos was a plant which grew from seed in the wild and was believed to heighten sexual desire, so much so that it was known as a 'sex potion'.

     Mint was thought by some (Hippocrates) to dilute sperm, hinder erection, and tire the body. Others believed that the effects of mint would heighten sexual arousal.
     Aristotle was said to have advised Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) not to allow his soldiers to drink mint tea during campaigns because he believed it to be an aphrodisiac.

     The ancient Egyptians also had their own love mixtures. Lettuce was thought to be the favourite food of the fertility god, Min who was depicted as a god with an erect penis, wearing a feathered crown and carrying a flail. Lettuce was his sacred plant, and an aphrodisiac to the ancient Egyptians - this particular species of lettuce was tall, straight and secreted a milky substance when pressed. As in Greece, the onion was considered an aphrodisiac. They were forbidden to the priests who had vowed celibacy, for fear that their passion might take over, and that they might desecrate themselves.

     Other Egyptian favourites included fennel, ginger, pomegranates, coriander in wine and radishes mixed with honey. The Lotus was also a symbol of sexuality, immortality and health. The Egyptians might have used it for its narcotic effects and possibly as a sexual stimulant. Other 'less conservative' aphrodisiacs used by the Egyptians included pearls dissolved in wine and baboon faeces added to aphrodisiac ointments.
The Egyptian Min
     Nearly every food from artichoke to passion fruit has been considered an aphrodisiac. The ancient Romans were said to prefer such exotic aphrodisiacs as hippo snouts and hyena eyeballs. Traditional Chinese medicine suggested the use of rare delicacies such as rhino horn.
     Foods that are exotic or suggestive of certain body parts are also favoured as aphrodisiacs. The avocado tree, for example, was called a 'testicle tree' (Ahuacuatl) by the Aztecs because its fruit hangs in pairs (its aphrodisiac value is based on this resemblance) even with the typical testicular structure of one hanging lower than the other.

     The phallus-shaped carrot has been associated with sexual stimulation since ancient times and was used by early Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction. The fig is claimed to be an aphrodisiac, based on its appearance.
     Sometimes edible aphrodisiacs are more myth than truth. Oysters were first called aphrodisiacs by the ancient Romans who wrote about the immoral behavior of women who ate them.
The 'Testicle Tree'

     Oysters are high in zinc, which is supposed to increase sperm count. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which improves  nervous system function. The banana, considered an aphrodisiac due to its shape, is rich in potassium and B vitamins, which are said to be necessary for sex-hormone production.

      The 16th-century Arabic love guide 'The Perfumed Garden', tells the story of the priapic lover who remained constantly erect for 30 straight days simply by gobbling onions through the course of his lovemaking.

     Another new world fruit considered to be an aphrodisiac was the tomato. When first brought to Europe, tomatoes were thought to be the famous forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden  and were called 'love apples'.
Oysters as Aphrodisiacs

     The cacao bean harvest for the Aztecs created orgiastic rituals that went on for weeks, and Montezuma himself is said to have primed his pump with 50 cups of cacao drink before servicing his 600 wives.


   Asia is a special region of the world for aphrodisiacs. The menu of 'The Snake King Completely Restaurant' in Guandong, China serves snake 75 different ways, and each serving is considered an excellent source for strengthening the 'yang' (the masculine active principle in nature).

     'Five Snake Wine' with five snakes in each bottle gives you 'luck' ('5' is considered a most favorable number-see post: Fun With Numbers). Dog is thought to be very beneficial for the yang, and it is usually one of the ingredients in 'Five Penis Wine' found in China.

     Or, if you prefer, 'Three Penis Wine', a mixture of seal penis, deer penis and Cantonese dog penis...just to be sure. A mixture of dog genitals is sold at markets in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan and is used in soup and wine to warm the blood and enhance virility.

     In China, sea cucumber is called the 'Ginseng of the Sea' because it has a long, thick, muscular form that swells to the touch. Shark's fin soup and jellyfish have been known as penile stimulants.
Three Penis Wine


     A restaurant in LeMat, Vietnam serves cobra (a potent aphrodisiac) brought to your table with its throbbing heart excised and popped into a shot glass, the blood and bile added in, and the shot glass topped off with a brandy composed of fermented snake and rice whiskey. Still, in Vietnam, four raw cat gall bladders pickled in wine causes excitement for men.

       Penis eating extends to the 'bull pizzler' which can be found frozen in markets. Dried tiger penis and powdered rhino horn are popular but expensive aphrodisiacs which 'offer the strength and stamina of the beasts' to the diner.

A Sea Cucumber

     In Japan, the pulverized genitals of the fugu blowfish mixed with hot sake illegal, expensive, and amazingly dangerous. Fugu toxin, if improperly prepared, is 250 times more deadly than cyanide, and some 20 diners per year in Japan succumb to its lure. Despite this, fugu blowfish testicles are a popular way of enhancing (usually, a man's) prowess.
Poached Rhino Horn-
Ready for Market

        Other Asian aphrodisiacs include: Balut, the 18-day-old embryos of ducks are popular in the Philippines and are called 'ho bit long' in Vietnam; the delicious durian fruit, described as 'carrion in a custard' and like 'eating pudding in an outhouse' because of its putrid smell.

Fugu Blowfish

     The durian fruit is believed to stimulate the genitals, if the eater can get beyond the smell; deep-fried tarantulas are sought after in Cambodia; bat blood wine is an aphrodisiac in the South Pacific; stewed crocodile meat in Thailand.

        In Victorian times, nearly any new drug that came on to the market was said to have aphrodisiac qualities, including opium, morphine (see post: The Opium Eaters) and cocaine.
     Dr. (Sir) Richard Quain wrote the 'Dictionary of Medicine' and, in the 1882 edition listed strychnine, cannabis, phosphorus and arsenic as aphrodisiacs.

     Arsenic-eaters were known throughout Europe and America. Chronic arsenic consumption produced a 'fresh complexion, round, firm, smooth skin, and shining hair (and eventually, death). In the US, male and female arsenic-eaters, known as 'dippers' put doses in their coffee. For men, arsenic apparently resulted in prolonged erections (priapism) and although most men died from prolonged use and the resultant anemia it caused, it was said that 'they died standing like men of the world'.
     Aside from folklore, myth and the simple desire to 'stay young forever', the search for sexual-enhancing drugs has been taken on by science and the pharmaceutical industry. Like many discoveries in the field of medicine, the effects of 'heightened sexual desire' produced by certain compounds was revealed when investigating a compound for completely unrelated purposes.
Tarantula-Best When Deep-Fried

     Viagra, for instance, was a drug first being investigated for its use in the treatment of heart problems and, during trials, was found to have the effect of prolonging penile erections.
     Poppers is slang term used for various types of inhaled alkyl nitrites. Amyl nitrite is used medically as an antidote for cyanide poisoning and was originally pioneered by Scottish physician, Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton as a treatment for angina pectoris ('pre-heart attack' pain). Amyl nitrite is present in products such as video head cleaner, air freshener and finger nail polish remover and are often inhaled with the goal of enhancing sexual pleasure. 
Sir Richard Quain

     Bremelanotide was developed from the peptide, melanotan II, first investigatedas a sunless tanning agent. Melanotan II did induce tanning but additionally caused sexual arousal and spontaneous erections  90% of male volunteer test subjects and increased sexual arousal in female volunteers.Different from Viagra, bremelanotide does not act upon the blood circulatory system, but rather directly increases sexual desire by acting on the nervous system.

      Crocin is a natural chemical compound that is found in the flowers crocus and gardenia.

     Crocin has been shown to have  antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects; in rats, antidepressant properties and some studies report aphrodisiac properties. Other tests demonstrate the efficacy of saffron as an aphrodisiac (a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, the saffron crocus).
      Chocolate or rather phenylethylamine, the 'active' chemical in chocolate has been reported to increase sexual attraction and cause sexual arousal.
Saffron Crocus

     Sexual arousal is linked to levels of sex hormones, particularly testosterone. When a reduced sex drive occurs in individuals with relatively low levels of testosterone, such as post-menopausal women or men over age 60, testosterone supplements will often increase libido.

      Yohimbine is the main alkyloid of Yohimbe, another product derived from the psychoactive plant bark of an African tree (see post: A Drug to See the Dead). Yohimbe has been approved in the US for treatment of impotence. It is widely distributed without prescription as an herbal aphrodisiac.

     Stimulants affecting the dopamine neurotransmitter system (see post: The Genetics of Addiction) such as cocaine and amphetamines have been associated with hyperarousal and hypersexuality but have been shown to impair sexual functioning, particularly with long-term use.
Yohimbe Tree

     Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color and, when 'fresh', smells much like the sea and excrement. With age, it acquires a sweet, 'earthy odour'. Historically, ambergris was used as in the manufacture of perfume. This substance is the biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating upon the sea, or in the sand near the coast.

     Ancient Egyptians burned ambergris as incense and in modern Egypt, ambergris is used as a scent in cigarettes.The ancient Chinese called the substance 'dragon's spittle fragrance'. Other uses for ambergris have been as flavouring in foods, medication for headaches, epilepsy and colds and, of course, this biliary secretion of the sperm whale has been used as an aphrodisiac.

     In today's world, ambergris is one of the most expensive of all aphrodisiacs, selling at over 90 Euros (about $130 US) per gram.
     Of all the aphrodisiacs used in history, perhaps the most most famous is the Spanish fly, an emerald-green 'blister beetle' ( Lytta vesicatoria). Cantharidin is a powerful blister-inducing substance claimed to have aphrodisiac properties due to its irritant effects upon the body's genitourinary tract. Hippocrates used plasters made from wings of these beetles used to 'raise blisters'. In ancient China, the beetles were mixed with human excrement, arsenic and wolfbane to make the world's first recorded stink bomb.
The Sperm Whale
     The history of spanish fly dates back to Roman times. Livia, the wife of Augustus Caesar, slipped it into food hoping to inspire her guests to some indiscretion that she could later use as blackmail. 
     Henry I V (1050–1106) is known to have consumed Spanish fly.

     The French seem to have always loved their aphrodisiacs. In the 1670s, Spanish fly was mixed with dried moles and bat's blood for a love charm made by the magician La Voisin, 'sorceress' during the reign of Loius XIV, slipped into the food of Loius XIV to secure the king's lust for Madame de Montespan.
Spanish Fly
     In the 18th century, cantharides (spanish fly) became fashionable, known as pastilles Richelieu in France.

     The Marquis de Sade is said to have given aniseed-flavored pastilles that were laced with Spanish fly to prostitutes at an orgy in 1772. He was sentenced to death for poisoning and sodomy (later reprieved).

The 'Sorceress' La Voisin

      But, as with so many 'good' drugs, there is often an undesirable aspect. In powder form, mixed with the food, cantharide can go unnoticed.

     Called Aqua toffana or aquetta di Napoli, it was one of the poisons associated with the Medicis. Four to six drops of this poison in water or wine was enough to deliver death in a few hours.
     Since the beginning of time, it seems, food and sexual delight have gone hand in hand. From the poorest to the most wealthy, everyone wants to have their delights.     
The Marquis de Sade 'At Work'
     Even Madame de Pompadour (consort of the king) ate truffles, vanilla, and celery (her own special 'jet fuel') to heighten her desire for Louis XIV.

     *The history of drug use: subject of research for the novels The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon KindleThe Judas Kiss- Amazon Kindle


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