Man, the most intelligent animal on this planet, has always been preoccupied with a furious desire to stoke the flames of passion in his (under)belly, so his frantic search for the ultimate aphrodisiac continues till this day. The most intelligent ‘animal’ also happens to be naïve enough to assume that whatever is commercially available in the name of ‘vigour’ and ‘vitality’ – is a sure-fire way to boost his pompous libido. Remarkably, the words vigour & vitality have come to be universally accepted as utilitarian substitutes for ‘sex’! So, we find a plethora of ‘performance’ boosters displayed prominently in drug stores, with no dearth of customers willing to ‘do’ them! Invariably, these products come packaged with suggestive photographs of Khajuraho statuettes, galloping horses, guns with their impossibly long barrels inserted in the letter ‘O’ or flimsily dressed couples clinging laboriously to each other in absolutely incredible poses. Their names also provide a unique and salacious insight into the treasure coves of libidinous nomenclature…… Vigora, 3-0-3, Love me (or love your neighbour…..who cares), Climax, Horsepower (yuck!), Spy, Japani Oil (which, after my careful investigations, turned out to be neither Japani nor an oil), Turn-on (nice game this one…turn on…turn off…turn on….turn off…till the switch breaks off!), Only Me (how mean!) etc. etc. Now the names may differ from Mumbai to Moradabad and from Bengalooru to Bengal, but the cafeteria choice in over-the-counter aphrodisiacs remains practically the same.
“For women, the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time.” – Isabel Allende (Chilean author)
With this rather ostentatious prologue, we come to the all important question – what ARE aphrodisiacs, and is there any scientific basis of their ‘miraculous’ properties? An aphrodisiac is something that inspires lust, induces arousal and exaggerates the pleasures associated with the sexual act. The term aphrodisiac comes from the myth of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, the epitome of sexual desire. Aphrodisiacs have been a part of every culture and most of our current ‘knowledge’ about aphrodisiacs is rooted in myths, folklore, and anecdotal evidence (evidence that is supported by tasty money testimony but not substantiated by clinical research). Why, for many, even the mere mention of the word ‘condom’ brings about an immediate agitation of the sexual senses (read here for a hilarious real life account).
Casanova is said to have consumed 5 dozen raw oysters a day in order to sustain his celebrated sexual prowess. That he laid pearls of wisdom the next morning is another matter altogether. The legendary Aztec ruler Montezuma is said to have drank 50 cups of hot chocolate a day in order to be able to survive with 600 wives. Huang Ti, the Chinese Emperor, who lived around 2600 BC used to drink a potion made from 22 herbal ingredients mixed with wine which apparently bestowed upon him an amazing stamina to enjoy the company of 1200 women. Closer home, a certain Maharaja was said to have been prescribed a potion prepared out of shredded carrots and crushed brains of a sparrow (the bird, not Jack Sparrow the pirate) to lift his sagging carnal desires (from Freedom at Midnight – by Collins & Lapierre). These tall (and chauvinistic) claims can never be verified, they only serve to inflate the false pride of the ‘believers’. Then of course there was the Babylonian practice of bride and groom drinking honey wine for a month after their wedding, purportedly to protect the structural characteristics of certain cryptic organs from wilting under durex duress. As the Babylonian calendar was lunar and the period of elopement coincided with the full moon, this ‘honey-month’ came to be known as the ‘honeymoon’!
“All a writer has to do to get a woman is to say he’s a writer. It’s an aphrodisiac.” – Saul Bellow (Canadian Novelist)
Today, aphrodisiacs are big business. Apart from chocolate, oysters, lobsters and alcohol, black pepper, honey, chili peppers, sugar, maize, figs, caviar, meat, frog legs, Spanish fly, tiger claws, rhino horns, deer antlers, dried black ants, dried lizards, snake tails, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, apricots, bananas (if you want me to explain why this sweet, soft-fleshed fruit that’s generally between 7 and 9 inches long is an aphrodisiac, you really need a lot more than just amorous inspiration!), dates, grapes, mangoes, peaches, pomegranate, strawberries, asparagus, carrots, celery, ginger, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, cayenne, licorice, nutmeg, saffron, basil, cardamom, fennel (saunf), cinnamon, eggs, gingko, ginseng, snails, mussels, spirulina, rose, dog rose, green tea, green oats and lot many more mundane and exotic items have been, on some occasion or the other, associated with aphrodisiac properties. Unfortunately, tigers and rhinos have been nearly shot to extinction by poachers who are just the pawns in the aphrodisiac trade.
The human brain is more potent than the strongest drug and more powerful than any known aphrodisiac. The old saying, “you’ve got sex on the brain” is literally and scientifically accurate. The human body produces its own internal sexual stimulants in the form of chemicals, electrical responses, and glandular substances and there is nothing more powerful than what already exists in our own bodies. Yes, we can enhance the effects by increasing our fitness, eating healthy, nutritious food, avoiding smoking and alcohol (in Macbeth, Shakespeare observed that alcohol “provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance”, a verdict which even 400 years later is still regarded as definitive), reducing the levels of stress, doing regular exercise, improving hygiene, observing cleanliness, listening to soft music (not that rock, heavy metal or jazz which is bound to put you off), wearing appropriate clothes and perfumes etc. etc. Finally, let’s not forget what Henry Kissinger once famously observed – “…the greatest aphrodisiac is power.”
The pictures and the cartoons have been sourced from the internet.