Nature's Viagra: Saffron, Ginseng Named Best Natural Aphrodisiacs

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dried ginseng
Want to spice up your sex life? Try adding these natural aphrodisiacs to your next meal.

Sorry, chocoholics: after extensive, stringent review, researchers have just declared saffron and ginseng as the two most potent natural aphrodisiacs. A team of scientists from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada found that these two natural substances improve sexual function and libido more than chocolate, and certainly more than wine, which impedes performance despite arousing lust.

Saffron, a spice cultivated from the flower saffron crocus, is commonly used in Spanish, Italian and Indian cuisine, but its reputation as a sexual drug spans thousands of years. It's referenced in the Hebrew Bible's famously erotic Song of Songs, and Cleopatra reportedly added it to her baths to enhance lovemaking. 

 

Ginseng, a root native to northern China, Korea and Sibera, can function as a natural form of Viagra. In addition to being used in energy drinks and as a treatment for type II diabetes, it's traditionally considered treatment for sexual dysfunction in men. In 2002, studies conducted in the Southerin Illinois University School of Medicine confirmed ginseng's sexual effects by demonstrating that it boosted the libido and performance of lab rats.

While studying the science behind aphrodisiacs, researchers found dozens of other consumable substances that enhance libido. Among them were yohimbine, a chemical found in yohimbe trees in West Africa; maca root, a mustard plant from the Andes; and muira puama, a flower from Brazil. Although chocolate could stimulate chemicals that affect the brain's levels of serotonin and endorphins, the scientists couldn't find a direct link between chocolate and sexual satisfaction. 

Professor Massimo Marcone, from Guelph's Department of Food and Science, champions the use of natural aphrodisiacs over synthetic drugs. For one thing, ginseng and saffron don't cause side effects like headaches or muscle pain. Plus, Viagra only prolongs performance. It doesn't boost libido like an old-fashioned dish of saffron and rice.

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