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Health » Sexual-health » Aphrodisiacs-030701
Searching for the elixir of love (Part I)

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani Dr. Aniruddha Malpani
Renowned infertility specialist. He runs an infertility clinic in Mumbai and has written many books.

Just like the age-old search for the alchemist?s mythical stone, which would turn lead to gold, man has always longed to find a potent aphrodisiac. Named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, aphrodisiacs are substances that elicit sexual desire, enhance sex drive and improve sexual "performance".

Since all these are such subjective measures, it?s hardly surprising there is so much controversy about the efficacy of these products.


Mind game
Aphrodisiacs could be used either to enhance your own sexual drive; or that of your partner. The good news is that since the most important sexual organ is your brain, practically anything will work as an aphrodisiac if you are convinced that it is effective. Of course, a good night's sleep, time, privacy, and a turned-on partner can do the same thing as effectively ? after all, if you are having sex with someone you love, you really don?t need any further stimulation! Unfortunately, researchers have still not been able to find a magic potion, which you can use to seduce another person, but the search still goes on!

Types of aphrodisiacs :
There are two main types of aphrodisiacs
  • Psycho physiological stimuli (which turn you on by titillating your sense of vision, touch, hearing or smell); and
  • Internal preparations (food, alcoholic drinks, drugs and love potions).

Aphrodisiacs - Searching for the elixir of love
However, studying these scientifically has been extremely difficult. Most scientists have kept away from this field, leaving the way open for exploitation by quacks and so-called 'sexologists.? Most writings on the subject are little more than unscientific compilations of folklore, making it difficult to distinguish facts from myths. Few substances have been scientifically evaluated until recently; and sadly most of these studies have been carried out on men, while women have been completely ignored. (I guess this is because most men are happy to experiment with anything, which may help them to get turned on, while women are more cautious!) The placebo effect is a major scientific stumbling block, which makes evaluating these products very difficult, because the mind is the most potent aphrodisiac there is. If you tell them it's an aphrodisiac, the hope of getting a sexual response might actually cause them to get it! However, experimenting with aphrodisiacs can be fun, so give it your best shot ? after all, you are your own expert in this field!

Law of similarity
So what can you start with? Many preparations from plants and animals with reputed aphrodisiac properties have been recorded throughout history. Many ancient people believed in the so-called "law of similarity," reasoning that an object resembling genitalia may possess sexual powers. For example, rhinoceros horns, have been extensively used by men to enhance sex drive, because it resembles an erect penis (and is responsible for the derivation of the slang word, feeling ?horny".) However, chemical analysis of powdered horn extracts reveals only polypeptides, sugars, phosphorus, ethanolamine and free amino acids ? none of which can improve libido! Unfortunately, this factual analysis has come too late, and rhinos have been practically hunted to extinction in many parts of the world.

Ginseng Ginseng
The word ginseng means "man root," and the plant's reputation as an aphrodisiac probably arises from its marked similarity to the human body. Ginseng has been looked on as an invigorating and rejuvenating agent for centuries in China, Tibet, Korea, and India. The root may have a mild stimulant action, like coffee, but there is no evidence that ginseng has an effect on human sexuality, no matter what the ads claim. Many types of seafood have also gained reputations as aphrodisiacs, perhaps because Aphrodite was said to be born from the sea, and the most famous of these are oysters.

Read concluding issue: Dr. Malpani demystifies some so-called aphrodisiacs.

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