When we hear the word 'aphrodisiacs' we are inclined to think of
ancient times, love potions, witches and medicine men. In
an age of sexual openness, you'd be forgiven for wondering why men
and women need aphrodisiacs. First of all, what does the word
mean? It has its origin in the name Aphrodite, who was the
goddess of Love, and in general usage, it is taken to mean anything
which causes increase in libido and sexual interest.
In order to present
a balanced picture, I decided to consult three professionals who
work in related areas: a naturopath, a gynaecologist and a sexual
counsellor. Let me tell you their overall views then
I'll examine the range of direct and indirect aphrodisiacs that
are available to us today.
The naturopath had no
doubt that certain substances can alter and increase sexual interest
and activity. She went on to list some of the ones she has
used effectively for this purpose. We've all heard about ginseng
and vitamin E, but she also mentioned licorice, sarsaparilla, cell
therapy and a herbal tonic wine.
The gynaecologist felt
that many so-called aphrodisiacs are, in fact, psychosomatic; in
other words, they operate by the placebo effect if you belive
it works, it works. In particular, he dismissed the Asian
offerings that employ rhino horn, snake venom, poison fish, and
other well-known ones like 'Spanish fly'.
Finally, I asked the
counsellor if she had ever suggested aphrodisiacs to individuals
or couples who were having problems in the bedroom.
Her answer was yes but not in the sense of substances or
potions. The mind is the greatest aphrodisiac, she contended,
and can be employed in the same way as vitamins, exotic powders
or particular foods to create the illusion or fact of increased
So, I was left with one
definite vote in favour of aphrodisiacs and two leaning strongly
towards the view that 'it's all in the mind'. I'll let you
decide for yourself.