Fennel to the Front

Fennel also has a long and illustrious history as an aphrodisiac. The Greeks felt it was a powerful sexual stimulant. At festivities, they wore crowns of fennel leaves and the seeds were eaten to heighten arousal. The Medieval Danes ate fennel to revitalize their systems and a Hindu prescription for sexual strength included fennel juice. In some Mediterranean regions a strong fennel soup was consumed to arouse sexual desire.

Many spices have been praised as assisting seduction. The Arabian Nights, over 1,000 years ago, told of a merchant who had been childless for 40 years and but was cured by a concoction that included coriander. Cilantro was also known as an "appetite" stimulant. The Romans dedicated garlic to Ceres, the goddess of fertility. Mustard is believed to have a powerful effect on the sexual glands and increases sexual desire. A nightcap of powdered cardamom boiled with milk and honey supposedly cures impotence. Saffron is believed to work like a sex hormone and make erogenous zones even more sensitive. Indian texts prescribe nutmeg mixed with honey and a half-boiled egg, taken an hour before intercourse, to prolong the duration of the sex act.

Even a seemingly innocuous food like honey has enjoyed the favor of lovers in search of a lift. Honey contains boron, a mineral also found in green leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts, that helps the body metabolize and use estrogen, the basic female sex hormone. Some studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance blood levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for promoting the specific drive for sex and orgasm in men and women.

The ginkgo tree is the world's oldest known living species, having survived for over 200 million years. It is also a favorite of city horticulturists because of its hardiness and tolerance for automobile exhaust fumes. In several Oriental cultures, the ginkgo's fruit and leaves are famed for beneficial properties and tonic effects for sexual potency. Ginkgo increases the blood flow throughout the body, especially in the brain and may also increase blood flow to male sexual organs.


Pros and Cons of Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are said to stimulate affection, and moderate consumption can serve to help people relax and lessen anxiety and inhibitions. Wine has often been used for ritual purposes to experience ecstasy and has been called the most powerful aphrodisiac. According to European Gastronomy, a publication of the Guide des Connoisseurs (Brussels, Belgium), champagne has enjoyed a solid following including such noted lovers as Casanova, the Marquise of Pompadour, France's King Louis XV, and Napoleon, who stated: "I can't live without champagne. When I win, I deserve it. When I lose, I need it."

However, because alcohol is a depressant, it can actually decrease desire and impede functioning. As the porter in Shakespeare's Macbeth observed, it "provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance."


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