Aphrodisiacs, Love Potions, Philters and Charms
Jan/Feb '07 issue The Essential Herbal
She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink;
she said "I'm gonna mix it up right here in the sink."
It smelled like turpentine and looked like Indian ink
I held my nose, I closed my eyes.........I took a drink!
I didn't know if it was day or night;
I started kissing everything in sight.
But when I kissed a cop down on 34th and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion # 9.
Song by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Recorded first in 1959 by "The Clovers"
When I hear the words love potion, I always think of this song. I remember singing along to this tune when I was a kid. History abounds with strange superstitions concerning herbs and foods that are sure to enhance your love life! Whether you believe in the power of aphrodisiacs or not there is no disputing the fact that a healthy libido has been of the utmost importance to man since the beginning of time.
In the past when a balanced diet may have been hard to come by, the nutritional boost to the body after consuming certain reputed aphrodisiacs may indeed have stimulated a person’s sexual vigor. One well known aphrodisiac was said to be a favorite of Casanova's. Supposedly he ate 50 raw oysters each morning in the bath with his favorite lady love of the moment. We now know that these lust producing mollusks are a rich source of zinc, a mineral required for the production of testosterone. In the process of studying herbs I found that the "Doctrine of Signatures" was also used in the treatment of sexual dysfunction through the consumption of foods. In other words, foods or herbs shaped like certain human body parts were thought to enhance a person’s bedroom ability! Watch out if you find yourself eating asparagus, oysters, chili peppers, peaches, ginseng roots, carrots, apricots, figs, bananas or okra!
Ancient herbalists prescribed the use of many herbs as a way to "provoketh bodily lust." Some of their favorites were clary sage, lady's bedstraw, chervil, flax seed, anise seed, nettle, chamomile, mint, watercress, oregano, coriander seed, parsley, basil, plantain, myrtle, patchouli, ylang ylang and dill.
The reputed efficacy of "alleged" aphrodisiacs has always fascinated me, so over the years I have collected a number of strange and unusual concoctions. Following are many examples of medieval lore, gypsy beliefs, love potions, love philters and even a few old wives tales that are believed to be advantageous in the art of seduction. Of course I'm excluding the ever popular rhinoceros horn and Spanish fly!!!!
*Cleopatra was believed to have dissolved pearls in vinegar as a drink
to enhance her seductive powers.
*Add dill seed to any drink and you've concocted a powerful aphrodisiac.
*Sprinkle lovage in your bathwater, after soaking in the tub for a while you will be irresistible.
*To insure faithfulness, steep cumin seed in wine.
*If you kiss anyone with a bit of valerian in your mouth you will definitely win the one you love.
*A pinch of coriander in a glass of hot mulled cider or hot mulled wine will increase passions.
*The next time you write your loved one a letter, slip a bay leaf into the envelope and their love for you will double.
*An old gypsy belief instructs a woman to sprinkle dried lavender or passion flower into a man’s hatband so he will always think of her.
*Sprinkling lavender under your loved ones bed means that you will be sharing it soon.
*Keep dried vervain flowers under your pillow to bring luck and love.
*Rosemary is a symbol of fidelity, friendship and remembrance.
*If you chew on caraway seed’s while you think of the one you love, they will become yours.
*If a man desires to be irresistible, he should approach his intended with a bit of sage under his tongue.
*Sprinkle lovage over your loved one's food ten minutes before it is finished cooking and it will increase his love for you and encourage his faithfulness.
*Your hearts desire will always be yours if you secretly sprinkle chicory root into his drink.
*Take a warm bath with a cup of rose petals and a teaspoon of dill seeds to attract a lover.
*Offer the one you yearn for a sprig of basil, if they accept it they are yours forever.
*If you worry about a loved one straying, tie 3 laurel leaves to the foot of the bed, he'll be blind to everyone but you.
*To arouse passion keep a sachet of lovage, orris root, lavender and southernwood in your pocket.
*Sprinkle cinnamon on any food to produce amorous thoughts. *If you chew on caraway seeds while you think of the one you love, they will become yours.
* A man who wears amethyst will find women attracted to him.
* Egyptians banned celibate priests from consuming onions because of their libido enhancing powers.
*Grated lemon peel steeped in wine is supposed to be a powerful sexual stimulant. But then, anything steeped in wine is going to lower your inhibitions!
* Sweet marjoram is known as a symbol of youth, beauty and happiness.
The Greeks crowned newlyweds with marjoram to wish the couple enduring happiness.
*I had a friend whose grandmother gave her a sprig of rue to place in her shoe when she was married to ensure a long, loving marriage.
* For peace and harmony in marriage, place pennyroyal and magnolia leaves under the mattress. If you include lavender and southernwood the flames of passion will never die.
*Cleopatra favored figs, Napoleon treasured truffles, and Shakespeare savored sweet potatoes as their own secret love potions.
To ignite the flames of passion you might also try horseradish, damiana, ginger, almond, saffron, cloves, jasmine, elderberry, vanilla, fennel, catnip, cayenne, fennel, clover, endive, thyme, sardines, onions, pine nuts, rose petals, ginkgo nuts, strawberries, truffles, nutmeg, coffee and lets not forget chocolate. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine a substance that courses through the veins of people in love. Although a large part of orally ingested phenylethylamine is metabolized before it reaches the central nervous system, the remaining components will affect people who are sensitive to it. If you are one of the lucky ones (like me) who reaches for a Milky Way bar when you feel the need to alter your mood, chances are some of your bodily functions like temperature and blood pressure will also be affected.
Could the sweet sensation of luscious chocolate melting in your mouth be enough to arouse your carnal desires? The Aztec ruler Montezuma certainly thought so; he allegedly drank several cups of xocoatl (a chocolate drink) before visiting his harem, believing it would increase his sexual stamina. The ancient Aztecs also believed chocolate would make women less inhibited. No wonder chocolates are so popular on Valentines Day! Recent studies have shown that
chocolate affects the brains of men very differently than the effects that it seems to have on women. Certain areas of brain activity decrease when men eat chocolate, whereas the opposite is true in the brain region related to motor skills in women.
We all know how a diet rich in vitamins and minerals will keep the human body running smoothly, this fact alone may be enough to light a fire in the romance department. Pleasing scents, stimulating textures and savory flavors can lead to a sense of pleasure that in turn might just procure for us an evening of sensual delights. Whether these love potions work because of their nutritional values or only because in our minds we "believe", really doesn't matter. As long as you know they are safe with knowledgeable use, what’s the harm? So go ahead, sprinkle a little lovage in the bath when you need to feel
lovable or try a damiana cordial if you wish to induce an erotic dream.
The end result couldn't be anything worse than a "randy reputation" ....could it?