The word aphrodisiac is derived from the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love, passion, fertility, beauty, and sexual pleasure. Let's learn how our natural world harnesses and shares these gifts from root to seed and everything in between!
From the flower Crocus Sativus comes the spice we know as Saffron, the radiant red stigma inside the delicate, lavender bloom. For over 4,000 years humans have adored this autumnal blooming plant, celebrating its medicinal properties. An ancient depiction of the bloom was discovered in a cave dating back to between 2000 – 1800 BC in now day Iraq. Ancient Greeks utilized Crocus to boost their spirits toasted its sexual enhancing properties. Today we extract kaempferol from the Crocus petals for its anticancer, antimicrobial, and antioxidant benefits. The delicate stigma (saffron) is harvested by hand, making it the most expensive and coveted spice in the world! Saffron increases sexual performance and libido especially in people suffering from depression. A beautiful gift from this elegant flower!
***Before moving on, we’d like to note that Crocus Sativus should not be confused with ANY OTHER Crocus, like the common Meadow Crocus, or the Crocus Vernus (pictured below), both of which bloom in early spring and both of which are toxic. Only one type of Autumn Crocus is edible, Crocus Sativus!
Crocus Vernus, NOT edible but glorious!
Valentine's Day and roses, why the connection? Roses are associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Greek myth tells the tragic story of her fallen lover, Adonis and her tears falling on a white rose bush, turning them to blood red. The traditional Valentine’s Day bouquet and the flower most often associated with love, with their velvety layers of fragrant petals and alluring, extensive color palette, we understand the association, and the appeal!
But what's the actually science behind the connection of roses to love? Turns out that sweet, soft, musky undertone we inhale when we stop to smell the roses is a chemical compound called indole. What is indole? It’s a scent, and a dirty one at that! Indole is a musty, composting, fecal odor occurring throughout our natural world, an underlying note often employed to bring about a seductive edge to perfume. Indole has animalistic properties enticing your primal senses, reminiscent of how pheromones work, arousing curiosity and primitive intrigue.
Rose petals also stimulate circulation to clear away toxins and boost metabolism while inhaling pure rose oil has an anti-anxiety effect that promotes relaxation. Rose water flavors Turkish, Greek, Indian and French culinary dishes, and adds a floral note to craft cocktails. Rose water also has a calming effect when splashed on your skin.
We've gained a new appreciation for this intoxicating plant that grows on every continent except Antarctica! As part of the Rosaceae family, roses are related to strawberries, apricots, plums, hawthorns, loquats, cherries and almonds!
Jasmine flowers with their heady fragrance is perhaps best known for its aromatherapeutic properties. In ancient Egypt the flower was used to treat headaches. Jasmine was traded along the ancient Silk Road and became a holy flower in Buddhism. It also is the national flower of Pakistan.
So when we learned this natural mood booster is also a known aphrodisiac, we weren’t surprised to discover it contains high levels of indole! Like cacao and roses, the scent of jasmine releases serotonin in the brain, the happy chemical responsible for boosting your mood, increasing your sense of well-being and energy, all of which tend to lead to more frequent moments of amorous activities!
Passionflower is my absolute favorite bloom. There, I said it. With those vibrant and intoxicating colors and layer upon layer of texture from petal to ovary to stigma, and anther, the visual anatomy make me swoon! Although its namesake points towards amorous properties, Passiflora’s medicinal properties promote relaxation and aid in comforting menstruation. A few recent studies we read however, do point to alleviated libido in post menopausal women. Consider Passiflora a comforting plant and encourage you to brew your lover a steamy mug of passionflower tea to celebrate this fantastic bloom.
Passionflower’s bloom from summer to early winter here in the Pacific Northwest
The avocado tree was named ‘Ahuacuatl’ by the Aztecs, roughly translated to ‘testicle tree’ (we’ll never going to look at an avocado tree the same). In fact, the Aztecs believed in the sexual power of the avocado so much that they forbid virginal women to leave the house while harvesting avocados! Avocados are rich in vitamin E, known to increase the intensity of an orgasm.
Cacao Trees supply the world with beans that make chocolate. Yup, that heart shaped box of chocolates is by no means a coincidence. Italian author and notorious lover, Casanova, mentions drinking unsweetened chocolate throughout his memoirs boasting its unique power to sustain his sexual escapades. Cacao contains phenethylamine, a chemical stimulant that helps release serotonin, the same chemical released when falling in love. This brilliant bean also contains tryptophan which aids in producing serotonin, a chemical responsible for sexual arousal and elevated mood.
The Moringa Tree produces leaves considered a superfood beneficial to overall sexual health. The leaves are shown to enhance sexual performance and are a natural aphrodisiac for both men and women.
Maca Root was first discovered by Ancient Andean shepherds who ate the fleshy, starchy roots (think turnip) of this Peruvian ground cover and began feeding it to their livestock. They noticed an increase in overall health & fertility of their herds and, centuries later, science has proven Maca root is indeed a sexual stimulant responsible for increasing fertility in livestock and more recently, in humans as well. Maca root increases sexual desire and sexual pleasure, not to mention boosting overall health and energy as it contains a wealth of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. Sounds good to us!
Ginseng root, native to North America and China, contains ginsenosides which are steroid-like compounds that stimulate libido (especially in men) and improve sexual arousal. Studies have shown it may also improve sexual arousal for menopausal women.
From our time in Turkey where Norfolk Pines grow beautifully outside. They also make lovely houseplants!
LEAVES & SEEDS
Arugula, also known as Rocket, produce delicious leaves ancient Greeks philosophers claimed to increase libido. And for you’d reason! Arugula leaves contain trace minerals & antioxidants that inhibit libido reducing contaminants from entering into our system. They also promote circulation, increasing blood flow to all the nether regions!
Fenugreek leaves & seeds contain phytoestrogens known to boost sex hormones estrogen & testosterone in women and men. Dating back to 1500 BC in the Eastern Mediterranean region, fenugreek now grows around the world. In Egypt fenugreek seeds are boiled for tea, in Turkey they’re mixed with cumin & black pepper for pastırma, India sprouts seeds incorporating them into salad and curry dishes. Delicious and arousing, yes please!
Damiana is claimed to be a natural female aphrodisiac & relaxant. Aztecs and Mayans used the leaves of the beautiful, yellow flowering shrub to increase circulation and sensitivity to female organs.
*Always use your best judgement and caution when consuming anything new, even if it’s natural!
Sending out the love to each and every one of you. Be well friends and thank you for being a part of the Sacred Elements community!
Karina and the Sacred Elements Team