Ancient peoples around the world looked to various herbs and plants for their prescribed magical effects Carrying herbs for luck, putting plants in a tincture for health, or eating specific items for passion was common practice. The word aphrodisiac applies to the herbs and plants consumed for improved ardor. It comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and sexuality. Research done on aphrodisiacs shows mixed results. Nonetheless people continue to add various spices and plant parts into their recipes hoping to inspire love and lust.
Indian texts discuss the use of cardamom in religious, culinary and medicinal. It was popular in China and Arabia too. Traditionally consuming cardamon battles impotence.
Our ancestors snacked on cloves to sweeten their breath. During the Middle Ages, cloven fruit appeared in courts, being exchanged between lovers with a kiss. Clove enhances desire.
Both mace and nutmeg come from the same fruit. Nutmeg comes to us from Indonesia. The Arabs and Hindus both valued it for stimulating the senses and increasing body heat.
Healers around the world included ginger in their kits as a tonic particularly suited to stomach problems. The warming nature of this spice gave it a reputation for creating likewise warmer feelings between lovers.
A Mexican legend tells us that a fertility goddess realized she could not marry a mortal man who she loved. To give happiness and pleasure to all lovers, she then transformed herself into the vanilla plant. Ever since, this herb remains connected to sensuality and satisfaction.
Sumerians gathered saffron and stored them for remedies. It's part of the crocus family used to improve sexual appetite for women often in the form of a love potion.
Ginko trees were discovered in Japan in the 1600s typically near Buddhist monasteries where they were cultivated for medicinal use. Ginko improves blood circulation, thereby improving arousal. Ginko sometimes has nasty side effects, so consult with a physician before trying this aphrodisiac.
Cayenne comes from Central America and Mexico, traveling to Europe after Columbus and others started returning to England from trips to the New World. Wherever it went, many herbalists used cayenne for its medicinal qualities. The capsicum oils in cayenne increase blood flow and make the body feel hot, which is why it became associated with aphrodisiacs particularly for men.
Numerous other herbs and plants gained the reputation for improving passion. Some of the most popular ones are those readily available in many pantries like mint, garlic, thyme, and sage. In addition, the Greeks used anise to promote virility. Bananas--thanks to their shape--became popular aphrodisiac choices, basil supposedly improves fertility and licorice root promotes lust, just to name a few.