Aphrodisiacs have been drawing the opposite sexes together for thousands of years. Many foods, flowers, oils, and even some unusual materials have been used as an aphrodisiac. Science has even found that the human body produces natural scents that act as an aphrodisiac. Many scents used to attract a lover are still used today.
Pheremones are a natural chemical in the body. The release of pheremones can change behaviors involuntarily without the subject being aware of the chemical. Pheremones were first discovered in insects in the 1950s. Scientists have recently identified genes they think are linked to pheremones. The smell of pheremones isn't always identifiable by humans. Some are not aware of the smell, others describe it as a musky scent, and a few don't like the smell at all. Most other mammals have a gland in the top portion of the nose that detects pheremones. Pheremones are believed to cause sexual excitement. There are some perfume companies that claim to have added pheremones to their product.
Julius Caesar, in 100 B.C., described perfumes as being the “fire of love”. Frankincense and myrrh were common perfumes in Rome. Cleopatra used perfumes and opiates in her seduction of men. Gold was added to many aphrodisiac drinks during the middle ages, which made the drinks very expensive. Members of the Inca and Aztec tribes used animal substances and plant aphrodisiacs to make themselves more desirable to potential mates. At various periods, chocolate, bananas and even insects have been used as an aphrodisiac.
Jasmine is a popular perfume scent that is an aphrodisiac to both men and women. Lavender is often combined with floral oils, cedar wood, or patchouli to attract men. Ylang ylang increases libido and energy between lovers and is considered one of the more powerful aphrodisiac scents. Ylang ylang is often combined with jasmine, bergamot or rose oil. The overwhelming floral scent of neroli is useful for flirtation, while patchouli is a more relaxing scent.
Scents for Rituals
Ginger is mentioned as an aphrodisiac in the Kama Sutra. Ginger both nourishes skin and improves blood circulation. Spicy and warm aromas increase perspiration, which then leads to heightened chemicals that lead to sexual attraction. Therapeutic effects such as removing toxins from the body are an additional benefit and serve to stimulate the body from the toes to the brain.
Scents in Mythology and Religion
The word “aphrodisiac” originates from the goddess of sensuality, Aphrodite. In a religious ritual from India, scents are applied to women's bodies to anoint various spots and lift her spirit. In the ritual, the woman is believed to manifest as the sacred creative force, Shakti, and was thus worshiped. Aphrodisiac oils that promote balance between the mind, body, and soul are pine, anise, angelica, cypress, and geranium.
Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.