Since the dawn of time, humans have been looking for the perfect love potion—a quest for sexual satisfaction that has yielded some bizarre results. In Asia, people believed they could increase sexual desire by drinking the fresh blood of bats or snakes. Chinese who wanted to lift their libido often turned to powdered rhino horn, and some still do. In Europe, legendary aphrodisiacs included truffles and oysters, both of which are still popular.
Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, aphrodisiacs include any food, drink, plant, animal, or scent thought to increase sexual desire and performance. Although most aphrodisiacs are relatively harmless, some can be deadly. The most well-known is Spanish fly. A substance made from pulverized beetles, Spanish fly has been used throughout history—the Roman empress Livia (58 B.C. to A.D. 29) purportedly slipped it to members of the imperial family so they would commit sexual indiscretions that could later be used against them.
But Spanish fly contains cantharidin, a toxic chemical that in some concentrations can damage the kidneys, irritate the gastrointestinal tract, and even result in death.
Fortunately, safer, more effective ways to boost your sex drive and performance are available at your local natural products store. Check out the following supplements if you’re looking to reignite that romantic spark.