As we all know, Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, beauty, sexuality and lust. From her name comes the word aphrodisiac, which means everything that stimulates sexual ardour and performance.
Since ancient times both men and women have always recognised the stimulating properties of certain foods and spices.
Even in the Bible, in the Old Testament and in particular in the song of Solomon, the roles of cinnamon, myrrh, saffron and other spices in causing excitement and amorous ecstasy are very much emphasised. In Greek, Etruscan and Roman societies it was also believed that for magical, religious or therapeutic reasons, that there was a connection between the table and the bed. People resorted to many more or less effective substances and foods, both for men and women, designed to stimulate and enhance sexuality, amorous excitement, but also fertility.
Getting more nerdy now: the Greek physician Galen (2nd century AD) recommended pine nuts as a remedy for impotence. Seafood and shellfish (particularly oysters) were consumed as aphrodisiacs by the Greeks, in part because of their connection to the “sea foam born” Aphrodite. In Latin, too, there are numerous allusions to foods that were supposed to be sexual stimulants.
According to the Kamasutra, the ‘sex bible’, in order to contribute to sexual performance, the five basic spices of the kamasutra were placed in a salt shaker: chilli, coriander, cumin, black pepper and turmeric and sprinkled on dishes or used while cooking. Another tip indicated by this book was to add a pinch of this to a cup of tea.
Chili pepper, thanks to its active molecule Capsaicin, is among the spices recognised as an aphrodisiac and it is also very rich in vitamin E, making it very useful for fertility and sexual potency, as it causes vasodilation in the lumbosacral area, which also includes the genital organs, increasing excitement. Consuming chilli peppers can also promote the release of endorphins; substances produced by the brain that give a sense of well-being.
An Italian study in which a questionnaire was submitted to 560 men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 – reports that one Italian out of four considers Calabrian ‘Nduja and other foods with chilli peppers as aphrodisiacs. So if you are thinking about spicing up your sex life, do literally add some spices into your foods and drinks!