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List of Aphrodisiac Herbs & Plants

By Patricia Telesco
Some herbs and plants have aphrodesiac qualities.
herbs and spice image by Bartlomiej Nowak from Fotolia.com

Ancient peoples around the world looked to various herbs and plants for their prescribed magical effects Carrying herbs for luck, putting plants in a tincture for health, or eating specific items for passion was common practice. The word aphrodisiac applies to the herbs and plants consumed for improved ardor. It comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and sexuality. Research done on aphrodisiacs shows mixed results. Nonetheless people continue to add various spices and plant parts into their recipes hoping to inspire love and lust.


Cardamom is the queen of spices.
Indian spice, cardamom. Isolated on white. From South India. image by diter from Fotolia.com

Indian texts discuss the use of cardamom in religious, culinary and medicinal. It was popular in China and Arabia too. Traditionally consuming cardamon battles impotence.


Cloves first appeared in medicinal and culinary practices in China.
clove image by Daniel Gustavsson from Fotolia.com

Our ancestors snacked on cloves to sweeten their breath. During the Middle Ages, cloven fruit appeared in courts, being exchanged between lovers with a kiss. Clove enhances desire.

Nutmeg and Mace

Nutmeg is actually two spices in one.
nutmegs image by Aussiebloke from Fotolia.com

Both mace and nutmeg come from the same fruit. Nutmeg comes to us from Indonesia. The Arabs and Hindus both valued it for stimulating the senses and increasing body heat.


Ginger has over 5,000 years of documented history.
Ginger Biscuits image by Shaun Meintjes from Fotolia.com

Healers around the world included ginger in their kits as a tonic particularly suited to stomach problems. The warming nature of this spice gave it a reputation for creating likewise warmer feelings between lovers.


Cortez returned to Spain bearing vanilla beans.
vanilla beans image by joanna wnuk from Fotolia.com

A Mexican legend tells us that a fertility goddess realized she could not marry a mortal man who she loved. To give happiness and pleasure to all lovers, she then transformed herself into the vanilla plant. Ever since, this herb remains connected to sensuality and satisfaction.


It takes 50,000 saffron flower stigmata to make one ounce of herb.
Spoon filled with saffron image by Han van Vonno from Fotolia.com

Sumerians gathered saffron and stored them for remedies. It's part of the crocus family used to improve sexual appetite for women often in the form of a love potion.


Ginko trees were once considered extinct.
Ginko Tree image by Microdac from Fotolia.com

Ginko trees were discovered in Japan in the 1600s typically near Buddhist monasteries where they were cultivated for medicinal use. Ginko improves blood circulation, thereby improving arousal. Ginko sometimes has nasty side effects, so consult with a physician before trying this aphrodisiac.


Archaeologists discovered cayenne seeds in Mexico dating to 7,000 B.C.
cayenne pepper image by Simone van den Berg from Fotolia.com

Cayenne comes from Central America and Mexico, traveling to Europe after Columbus and others started returning to England from trips to the New World. Wherever it went, many herbalists used cayenne for its medicinal qualities. The capsicum oils in cayenne increase blood flow and make the body feel hot, which is why it became associated with aphrodisiacs particularly for men.

Other Popular Aphrodesiacs

Berries appear frequently in erotic literatures as food for passion.
berries image by cherie from Fotolia.com

Numerous other herbs and plants gained the reputation for improving passion. Some of the most popular ones are those readily available in many pantries like mint, garlic, thyme, and sage. In addition, the Greeks used anise to promote virility. Bananas--thanks to their shape--became popular aphrodisiac choices, basil supposedly improves fertility and licorice root promotes lust, just to name a few.


About the Author


Patricia Telesco has been a writer since 1992. She has produced more than 60 books with publishers that include HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Her articles have appeared in "Woman's World" and "National Geographic Today." Telesco holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Buffalo.