SCIENCE! Aphrodisiacs: Are they for Real, and How Do They Work?

Some of the most wild aphrodisiacs include baboon urine and rhinoceros horn.

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More than any other month, people who lack natural charm,
or couples whose chemistry is kaput, turn to the power of
aphrodisiacs to get lucky in the short, cold month of Valentine’s.

Aphrodisiacs are food thought to get you in the mood,
but whether it’s all in your head that food might get you head is up
for debate. Hot foods for example – like chilli or curry –
are thought to heat up passion between the two people sharing
that meal. The idea is that warming foods like chillies, cinnamon,
or curry make our blood boil in the good way for each other.

But that sounds as silly as the argument that foods that like look
like genitalia (bananas, oysters, etc) act as aphrodisiacs –
because bananas and oysters are composed of ingredients that
simply cannot physiologically stimulate either of the sexes –
they’re just water, protein, minerals, carbohydrate, fat, some
salts, and glycogen.

However, when it comes to things like chocolate (the darker
the better for their higher cacao content) there’s actually
some science to the theory foods can legitimately turn us on.

Cacao contains a chemical scientist have dubbed the
“bliss molecule.” It’s called anandamide, and it
creates a measurable chemical reaction in our brains
– it can be scientifically proven that it makes us feel good.
But not good as in sexy good, just good. However, in
addition to the “bliss molecule,” chocolate also contains
what food scientists call the “love molecule”: phenylethylamine
(also found in almonds), which releases the feel-good chemical
dopamine during sex.

To complete the trio of aphrodisiac perfecta,
chocolate also contains arginine, an amino acid responsible for
the synthesis of nitric oxide; nitric oxide increases blood flow to
the genitals, which facilitates both erections in men and lubrication
in women. And according to the internet-based rumour mills,
arginine also increases clitoral sensation, amplifying female orgasm.

Since word of this science has gotten out, some pretty wild
cultural aphrodisiac practices have emerged, proving that
people really will do anything for sex. Take the people of Zimbabwe,
who drink baboon urine. They mix it with beer to get it down,
but it is what it is: baboon piss.

It makes the South American tradition of giving newlyweds a box of
giant leaf-cutter ants as a wedding gift seem way less disgusting.
(Newsflash – if you need to eat ants to want to tear the tux or
wedding dress of your new life partner – not a good start.)

Lastly, the Japanese claim that the tingling sensation one gets
from eating blowfish – a ridiculously poisonous fish – increases
sexual arousal. Blowfish, sold as “fugu,” must be prepared by top,
licensed chefs because if you eat the wrong part of one it’ll
kill you. It’s an aphrodisiac boost literally worth (maybe) dying for?

So while there are indeed some foods one could send to the
pretty man or woman at the other end of the restaurant, in the hopes
of getting a hug or something more out of them, keep in mind
nothing beats being a riveting conversationalist who knows how
to charm a person with properly paced mental stimulation,
followed by the power of touch – two things proven to arouse us
far more than far-reaching food-based boosts to libido.
It’s cheaper, safer, and more readily accessible than buying them
blowfish or monkey piss.

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