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Aphrodisiacs from plant and animal sources—A review of current scientific literature

Melnyk, John P., Marcone, Massimo F.
Food research international 2011 v.44 no.4 pp. 840-850
Bufo, Lepidium meyenii, Panax ginseng, Tribulus terrestris, animal models, clinical trials, goats, human behavior, humans, mechanism of action, nutmeg, saffron, sexual behavior, smooth muscle, toads, yohimbine
The use of aphrodisiacs dates back thousands of years in Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Roman, and Greek cultures. Although the scientific basis of these substances was not understood, aphrodisiacs were valued for their ability to enhance the sexual experience. Their use allowed for human procreation and the ability to obtain a sexually fulfilling relationship. Aphrodisiacs used historically include ambrein, Bufo toad, Spanish fly, yohimbine, Tribulus terrestris, horny goat weed, muira puama, MACA root, Panax ginseng, nutmeg, saffron, and cacao. Previous studies on these substances have shown potential aphrodisiac properties using animal models and in human clinical trials. Aphrodisiacs were shown to relax corpus cavernosum smooth muscle tissue in animals, improve erection quality in humans and animals, or increase sexual behavior and satisfaction in humans and animals. Although most studies showed positive effects of aphrodisiacs on sexual enhancement, more studies are needed to understand their mechanism of action. The need for clinical trials using larger populations is also evident to prove the effectiveness of aphrodisiacs for human use. This paper will review recent scientific studies conducted on these commonly used aphrodisiacs, and determine whether the results support or refute their use for human sexual enhancement.