Culinary Herbs for Better Sex

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Photo courtesy Healing Arts Press (c) 2002

Excerpted from The Sexual Herbal: Prescriptions for Enhancing Love and Passion, by Brigitte Mars, A.H.G., with permissions from Healing Arts Press (c) 2002. The following excerpt can be found on Pages 13 to 14 and 40 to 45.

The term aphrodisiac derives from the name Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, fruitfulness, and beauty. An aphrodisiac is a substance that puts you in the mood for love, whether it be food, herbs, good conversation, moonlight on the beach, or even lingerie.

Some aphrodisiacs have a direct stimulating effect on the erogenous zones. Some affect the mind, causing relaxation, releasing inhibitions, or inspiring passion. Others endow the user with stamina, allowing longer lovemaking sessions. Still others are simply reminiscent of sex in their shape, texture, or smell. Consider the phallic nature of a banana or the sweet succulence of a ripe persimmon.

Taken as a tonic, aphrodisiacs can be enjoyed thirty to sixty minutes before a lovemaking session. However, they are best put to use as an integral element of daily life, inspiring health, passion, and sensuality throughout the day and offering the utmost of their tonifying properties

Superfoods are unprocessed foods that pack a wide range of nutrients into a delicious healthful package. They provide powerful healing benefits to the human body. A superfood can be considered an aphrodisiac tonic if it satisfies one or more of the following requirements.

1. It is highly nutritious and makes a significant contribution to overall health, thereby improving libido.

2. It nourishes the liver system, which breaks down toxins and excess hormones in the body, helping maintain the immune system and hormonal balance.

3. It nourishes the kidney system, which governs sexual vitality and libido, and contributes to the ability to bring forth new life should that be on the agenda.

4. It stimulates circulation, which moves blockages from, boosts sensitivity in, and improves the function of the sexual organs. Improved circulation also creates more warmth in the body, fueling the fires of passion.

The foods that follow satisfy one or more of these requirements. To reach and maintain peak sexual vigor, make them a regular part of your diet!

Culinary Herbs

Most classic culinary herbs are considered aphrodisiacs, after all, they stir the senses. The herbs in the following list have a warming, stimulating effect on the body and help improve circulation. Use lavish amounts of them in your cuisine. Spicing up your love life never tasted so good!

Anise seed (Pimpinella anisum) is a member of the Apiaceae (Parsley) fam¬ily that has long been considered an aphrodisiac, as well as a breath freshener. In Oriental tradition, anise warms the Kidneys. Historically, the seed was added to wedding cakes to stimulate “wedding night vigor.”

Anise seeds are used to relieve menstrual cramps. Stuffed in a sachet and taken to bed, they are said to prevent nightmares. Some believe that hanging a sprig of anise on one’s bedpost promotes youthfulness.

Cardamom seed (Elettaria cardamomum) is a member of the Zingerberaceae (Ginger) family. It has been used in Asian countries as an ingredient in love potions and in Arabic cultures as a sign of hospitality. The seed is sometimes added to smoking blends, and like anise, is used as a breath freshener; people chew it after drinking alcohol or eating garlic to conceal their indulgence.

Cayenne pepper (Capsicum frutescens), is a member of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family. It improves circulation, producing a feeling of warmth throughout the body, and also stimulates the production of endorphins. Paprika, a milder version of this red-hot plant, adds colorful flavonoids when sprinkled on prepared dishes.

Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum species), a golden-rayed member of the Lauraceae (Laurel) family, has been used as a warming spicy aphrodisiac since ancient times. A vasodilator and a yang tonic, cinnamon’s prolonged use is known to beautify the skin and promote a rosy complexion. It is especially helpful for people who are always cold and have poor circulation. It is used in the treatment of dysmenorrhea, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, flatulence, halitosis, irregular menses, lumbago, poor circulation, and vision problems.

Cinnamon is often included in massage oils for its warming and sexually arousing properties, and in toothpastes for its ability to freshen breath. The aromatic scent of cinnamon stimulates the senses yet calms the nerves. In love magic, cinnamon encourages love, success, and prosperity.

Clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum), in the Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus) family, has long been considered an aphrodisiac and is a common remedy for premature ejaculation, especially when included in topical lotions. Clove stimulates circulation and digestion, warms the body, and is used to treat candida, depression, erectile dysfunction, flatulence, halitosis, and poor circulation. Folklore says that sucking on two whole cloves without chewing or swallowing them helps curb the desire for alcohol.

Coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum), a member of the Apiaceae (Parsley) family, is mentioned as an aphrodisiac in The Arabian Nights. It was an important ingredient in love potions of The Middle Ages. Coriander seed tea is used to treat amenorrhea, anxiety, cramps, cystitis, flatulence, and halitosis.

Coriander seeds are a common spice used in preparing dishes from a wide range of cuisines, including Latin American, Indian, Ethiopian, Arabic, and Thai and other Asian cuisines. The leaves of the plant, known as cilan¬tro, are also a popular flavoring used in Asian, North African, and Mexican cooking. The root is also edible and may be prepared as a vegetable.

Cumin seed (Cuminum cyminum), another member of the Apiaceae (Parsley) family, improves peripheral circulation to the body’s extremities including the genitals-and has long been used in love potions.

Curry. The various blends of herbs known as curries are warming and beneficial to the circulatory system, providing another possibility for spicing up your love life.

Fennel seed (Foeniculum officinale), yet another member of the Apiaceae (Parsley) family, improves energy, freshens the breath, and increases libido. Being antifungal, galactagogic, and phytoestrogenic, fennel is also used in the treatment of various ailments, including amenorrhea, endometriosis, fatigue, fever, menstrual cramps, and premenstrual syndrome.

Garlic (Allium sativum), is part of the Lilliaceae (Lily) family and is one of the most studied herbal medicines on the planet. It is only medicinal when raw, and in this state increases testosterone levels, increases sperm production, and elevates libido. It also improves circulation and warms the body. In ancient Rome, garlic was a favorite herb of Ceres, the goddess of fertility. Excess amounts of garlic can be irritating to the stomach and kidneys; some people find that even small amounts of raw garlic can cause heartburn. Avoid large doses during pregnancy and while nursing, as it may cause digestive distress in the mother and baby. Excessive use can provoke anger and emotional irritability.

Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) family. The genus name, Zingiber, and common name ginger derive from the ancient Greek word for the plant, zingiberi, which is itself thought to be from the Indo-Aryan and possibly to mean “shaped like a horn.” Ginger warms the body and has been used for centuries to treat amenorrhea, delayed menses, low libido, and low sperm motility. Ginger is an antifungal, antioxidant, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, and emmenagogue. In magic practices, ginger attracts love, prosperity, and success.

Mustard seed (various species). Various seeds in the Brassicaceae (Cruciferous) family are all warming to the body, improving circulation and enhancing libido.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), part of the Myristaceae (Nutmeg) family, contains an essential oil called myristicin, which is chemically similar to MDMA, aka known as the “love drug” Ecstasy. Nutmeg is best when grated fresh onto food. It is known to make alcoholic beverages even more intoxicating. Nutmeg has long been used in magical traditions to attract love and prosperity. It can be burned as incense, and the essential oil is often an ingredient in perfumes, soaps, toothpastes, and massage oils. Nutmeg is also sometimes added to smoking mixtures and snuff.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispim), of the rich, green ray, is related to anise, coriander, cumin, and fennel. It is an antioxidant, aphrodisiac, blood builder, emmenagogue, and galactagogue. Eating fresh parsley is an ancient remedy to strengthen the vision, regulate delayed menses, improve fertility, and freshen the breath. Use its fresh curly greenness to garnish your food.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) family. It has long been considered a symbol of friendship, loyalty, and remembrance. In some traditions brides wear a wreath of rosemary and carry it in their bridal bouquet as a symbol of their remembrance of their families and their marriage vows. The leaves are valued as antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astrin¬gent, diuretic, emmenagogic, rejuvenative, rubefacient, stimulant, and tonic to the yang energies of the body.

Rosemary tonifies the nervous system, improves peripheral circulation, promotes warmth, and uplifts the spirits. An excellent herb for the elderly, it is also used in the treatment of amenorrhea, anxiety, cellulite, debility, delayed menses, depression, memory loss, menstrual cramps, stress, and vertigo. It is warm and dry, corresponding to the Sun and to the element of Fire.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) of the Lamiaceae (Mint) family is actually an anaphrodisiac–the opposite of an aphrodisiac. It is also antifungal, antigalactagogic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and aromatic, as well as a brain tonic, circulatory stimulant, emmenagogue, estrogen promoter, nervine, and general tonic. Even just the aroma of sage helps promote mental alertness. Why mention an anaphrodisiac? Because sometimes getting it on might not be on the menu-your partner may be ill, too pregnant, away, or not available.

Sage is used in the treatment of anxiety, cystitis, depression, flatulence, hot flashes, irregular menses, memory problems, menopause, menorrhagia, migraines, night sweats, and excessive perspiration.

In folkloric tradition, sage is used to promote longevity and wisdom and to attract protection and prosperity. Avoid large doses during pregnancy and while nursing, because it can dry up a mother’s milk.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the Zingerberaceae (Ginger) family. In many languages the literal translation of the common name for this plant is simply “yellow earth.” The rhizome is antifungal, anti-inflam¬matory, antioxidant, antiseptic, and aromatic, and is also a circulatory stim¬ulant and emmenagogue.

Turmeric, of the sunny yellow-orange ray, helps stabilize the body’s microflora, thus inhibiting yeast overgrowth. It also sensitizes the body’s cortisol receptor sites and thus is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. It helps regulate the menses, and is restorative after childbirth. It is used in the treatment of candida, eczema, flatulence, high cholesterol, trauma, and Uterine tumors.

Dried or fresh turmeric root is a popular spice in Asian, and particularly Indian, cuisine. The root is eaten raw in southern India. Turmeric aids in the digestion of fats and protein.

In northern Indian traditional wedding ceremonies, turmeric is applied to the bride and groom to offer protection from “the evil eye.” In folkloric tradition it is considered a symbol of prosperity and is used in cleaning for purification.

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia, V. pompona) is a member of the Orchidaceae (Orchid) family. The genus name Vanilla derives from the Latin vaina, “sheath,” “pod,” or “little vagina,” in reference to the suggestive shape of the flower. The Aztecs were the first to use vanilla; among other things, they added it to their chocolate drinks. The smell of vanilla is said to be one of the closest to mother’s milk; perhaps as a result, smelling or eating vanilla can have a calming effect and help awaken childhood memories. The cured seedpod is considered aphrodisiac, aromatic, and stimulant.

Vanilla’s aphrodisiac qualities perhaps result from the fact that it causes urethral irritation. It is used infrequently in modern herbal medicine, but it can be helpful in cases of emotional trauma, hysteria, and low libido.

Vanilla bean and extract are popular flavorings for a wide variety of confections and liqueurs. Vanilla is used in love magic to scent perfumes, cosmetics, potpourri, and smoking mixtures.  

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