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Okay, so let’s be real. We’ve all heard that chocolate, spicy food, and somehow oysters are aphrodisiacs, but is this true? I turned to the first place I knew for a body, health, and mind-related question: WebMD.

WebMD wasted no time giving me the facts, starting off with: “Can certain foods truly stimulate sexual desire, or is it all in our heads? Research shows us that it’s mostly the latter — but when it comes to aphrodisiacs, we should never underestimate the power of sensual suggestion.” We love a clear answer.

Right after this they give us the bottom line, “No food has been scientifically proven to stimulate the human sex organs. But foods and the act of eating can suggest sex to the mind, which in turn can help stimulate desire in the body.”

What I drew from this is that chocolate does not literally make us ready to go at it, but it’s more about the associations we have with the food, how we’re eating it, who we’re eating it with, and how we’re acting that makes us think we can blame it all on the chocolate.

Wait, maybe I should look up the definition of an aphrodisiac in the first place. I got to Merriam-Webster, and I get this: “an agent (such as a food or drug) that arouses or is held to arouse sexual desire.”

Now this changes the whole game. I don’t mean to be crass, but I know how I’m feeling a few glasses of wine deep. Merriam-Webster includes drugs in the definition, too, so does this mean that Viagra is technically an aphrodisiac? And if so, doesn’t this contradict what WebMD had to say? I mean, Viagra is as close to prescribed horniness as you can get.

Also, more on the recreational side, there have been studies about the effects of MDMA, more commonly known as molly or ecstasy, on sexual arousal. In addition to the arousing effects from MDMA, the study linked above found significant emotional intimacy while on the substance, often leading to sexual intercourse. 

This means we must ask ourselves, do we define aphrodisiacs as solely making you sexually aroused, or do we also include them fostering feelings of emotional intimacy, which may lead to sexual arousal?

I guess this also depends if you only want to think of food aphrodisiacs, since these foster mostly sensual and emotional feelings, and less direct sexual arousal.

After a bit more research, I see that at least one food has a base in heightening true arousal: oysters. According to a different WebMD article, oysters are so high in zinc that at a point in time that people were commonly lacking zinc, eating oysters may have improved their deficient diet so much that it increased their sex drive.

With a little less scientific backing, but still an interesting point, the same article says that spicy food may be considered an aphrodisiac because of how capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, impacts the heart rate. This chemical causes the heart rate, metabolism, and perspiration to rise, similar to how they do during sex, eliciting a similar reaction in your brain.

Dried Peppers
Ellen Gibbs / Spoon

Overall, it seems there is much more information to be known about aphrodisiacs overall, with two of the articles I read from the same source containing differing information. I just want to know why this area of research isn’t being funded more, because the people want to know.

Marita is a junior at CU and marketing major with a creative technology and design minor. She loves fashion, design and cooking. In her free time, she loves to go on walks and hang out with her bearded dragon, Walter!
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