The 8 bizarre foods people actually ate to improve their sex lives – and one will kill you
Being a species preoccupied with sex for both pleasure and procreation, ever since the mankind’s earliest days we’ve been obsessed with, well, all things sex-related.
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A simple ‘sex’ Google search will throw up the millions of questions and countless pieces of advice among less savoury and more NSFW items.
Evidence of this evolutionary obsession is our interest in anything which is suspected to be an aphrodisiac – including our food.
Of course, this means there was a lot of information which, nowadays, we’d find dubious – such as how foods which make you windy inflate the penis.
Thankfully, that one hasn’t stuck.
But as Dr Paula Sandroni reports in the Clinical Automatic Research journal, there have been plenty of other completely unappetising foods which were famed for getting us in the mood.
Here are eight of the best (weirdest).
1. Anise and mustard
You know that phrase ‘spicing things up in the bedroom’?
It stems from the belief how all things exotic to the western world – i.e. spices – were an aphrodisiac.
So foods like asparagus, mustard, carrots and anise which traditionally contained spices or were considered to be spicy were used as aphrodisiacs.
2. Mandrake root
Not only does mandrake root (or Mandragora officinarum to give its official name) sound improbably exotic, but it also makes an appearance in films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Harry Potter.
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While there is a link between mandrakes and magic / witchcraft, the reason they were considered an aphrodisiac is a little more basic.
The shape of a mandrake’s roots was said to resemble a woman’s legs, and thus formed the basis of that shaky theory.
3. Sparrow brains
Spare a thought for our tiny feathered friends.
The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, considered sparrows to be sacred.
But this sadly did not work in their favour. Precisely because Aphrodite was the goddess of love, snacking on a sparrow’s brain was believed to get those loving feelings flowing.
Another animal which found themselves a victim of our aphrodisiac-chasing are rabbits.
The phrase “at it like rabbits” is not only because of their incredible ability to breed, but also because they are often a symbol of fertility.
No surprises here perhaps. But while a litre of the good stuff may get you in the mood, it may impede the, er, more practical side of things.
6. Spanish fly
Lytta vesicatoria or Spanish fly is an emerald-green beetle in the family Meloidae.
If this seems about as far from an aphrodisiac as you an imagine, then consider this.
Spanish fly contains cantharidin, which inflames your genital membranes, so was thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Though sadly any benefits gained from this one may be short-lived. It can also cause death due to kidney failure and gastrointestinal hemorrhaging.
Give this one a wide berth.
7. Tree bark
Another theory with a tenuous scientific link.
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The belief behind tree bark’s aphrodisiac properties harks back to a West African tradition which believed the bark of the Yohimbe tree could cure low libido in women and act as a natural Viagra for
Frequently and famously cited as an aphrodisiac, oysters suffer from the same fate as mandrake roots. That’s to say they supposedly resemble a part of the female anatomy.