Mental Floss

Love Potions: 6 Surprising Aphrodisiacs

Chris Weber
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Everyone knows oysters' reputation for spurring loving-making—but how do you kindle randy feelings in your partner if you can't call down to room service for a tray of blue-tips? Over the centuries, desperate lovers have developed aphrodisiacs out of surprising ingredients, and scientists are now researching how they work.

1. Ginseng

Ginseng is so commonplace today, available in teas, juices, and even chewing gum, that many men may not realize that it has long served as a bedroom aid. Ginseng boosts the level of nitric oxide in the bloodstream, and that in turn helps blood flood into the penis to create that male lovemaking necessity, the erection. Viagra, by the way, works by precisely the same mechanism.

2. Toad Secretions

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Toad was in the news again last month when another New York man died after ingesting a hard, brown substance containing toad venom.

3. Nutmeg

The common spice nutmeg inspires lab rats to (a-hem) rattle their cages. Wrote researchers: "It significantly increased the Mounting Frequency, Intromission Frequency, Intromission Latency and caused significant reduction in the Mounting Latency and Post Ejaculatory Interval. It also significantly increased Mounting Frequency with penile anaesthetization as well as Erections, Quick Flips, Long Flips and the aggregate of penile reflexes with penile stimulation." Scientists are unsure about how nutmeg works its magic, or whether the resulting rat-love is as good for the lady rat as it is for the male.

4. Deer Antler

Deer antler is an extremely popular aphrodisiac worldwide. Deer antlers are the only organs on any mammal that can regenerate itself, and the velvet that forms on the horns is collected on specialized velvet farms. New Zealand produces more antler velvet than any other nation.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the velvet is dried and sliced before being mixed with medicinal herbs; people make a soup from the preparation. In the West, cleverly named products like Velvita (not the processed cheese) contain velvet in powder or capsule form. Deer antler velvet seems to have bedroom benefits for both men and women. The antlers are rich in amino acids, hormones, and enzymes, and this cocktail enhances strength and endurance, in bed and elsewhere. Scientists hypothesize that the antlers may have many other benefits, such as reducing stress, helping bones heal, and treating ulcers.

5. Pumpkin Seeds

In China, Turkey, and Bulgaria, men eat pumpkin seeds to stay virile. The oil in the seeds helps keep the prostate healthy, and that's good for the love life. Two to three ounces per day, eaten raw, are supposed do the trick.

6. Beetles

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Chris Weber is an occasional contributor to mental_floss.

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