People have been talking about aphrodisiacs for hundreds of years, but not many have honed in on the scientifically-based reasoning behind why aphrodisiacs are a critical compliment to a thriving, passionate long-term relationship. Nor have they explained why the order in which you consume your food and beverage are a core part of whether or not you receive any benefits from aphrodisiacs. If you are in a relationship, get ready to take some notes and start cooking (in more ways than one).
Basics first, an aphrodisiac is defined as an agent that intensifies sexual desire and increases behaviors that make sex attainable and pleasurable. Essentially these agents should assist you in entering the right frame of mind to feel and act sexy. In my book, there are three categories of aphrodisiacs, which we will get into in a moment. To fully understand the effects of aphrodisiacs, it is important to first have a rudimentary understanding of the basic chemicals, hormones and neurotransmitters that are in play when we are initially in love because these are the same agents you are hoping to bring into play with your aphrodisiacs.
The initial rush you feel in the beginning of a relationship stimulates a "cocaine-like high in your brain." The effects of these love drugs are what create and strengthen our relationship's initial foundation of loving memories together. They heighten all five of our senses, help us focus on our love, give us more energy and endurance, emblazon memories into our minds and overall, make us feel good.
Truth be told our bodies aren't meant to sustain those initial chemicals for the long-haul. The increased levels of adrenaline, endorphins, PEA and norepinephrine tax our bodies and brains over time. Plus, it's hard to function properly in society when our love completely takes over our mind. Once we have settled into a relationship, a few months up to several years, our chemistry is designed to shift from that initial high to produce more bonding chemicals and hormones with an increase in serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin and a decrease in testosterone all designed to keep us together for the long-run.
Many relationship experts and the research on successful marriages tell us that couples who do novel things together have better relationships. Novel things, like aphrodisiacs heighten the chemical cocktail of love drugs in your body giving you spikes of those initial love drugs. Why is that a good thing? For all the same reasons it was when we first fell in love — because it helps enhance special moments that strengthen our bond of love for one another and create lasting love-filled memories. In the attachment phase of your relationship, this boost of love drugs is even more critical because it's not automatically happening on a daily basis so you need to deliberately cultivate these moments.
The Basic Chemistry of Love
To get fully revved up from your aphrodisiacs, you will first need to engage your brain. The imagery and stories you etch into your psyche based on your environment, employing all five senses and being aware of your emotional state will begin the production of an internal chemical cocktail of endorphins. The music and atmosphere alone can start your endorphins flowing. Because of the profound pleasurable effects they produce, endorphins are called the brain's natural opiates.
Dopamine helps you perceive and respond to the sensual messages from your senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell; allowing you to be fully present in the moment. Research has also shown that the release of endorphins, in turn, stimulates more dopamine production. These two neurochemicals then work in tandem, each supporting the other's activity to ensure that meaningful behaviors will elicit a powerful and steady stream of pleasurable feelings.
Norepinephrine boosts memory, learning and our ability to pay attention and stay focused on a task. It is also involved in arousal, reward system, mood and blood pressure. When your body is depleted of norepinephrine, the negative effects of stress are magnified. However, a boost in norepinephrine may help an individual temporarily put aside their worries and distractions to have a more rewarding sexual experience with their partner. Keep reading...
More intimacy advice on YourTango: