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Aphrodisiac: myths and facts?

What do carrot, chocolate, oyster and garlic have in common? They are aphrodisiacs which supposedly contain substances that will enhance sexual desire, increase sexual drive and boost sexual energy and performance.

Thousands of years ago, the philosophers in ancient china have realized the connection between food and sex. When we eat, we use many of our senses such as taste, sight, smell and touch. These senses are similarly experienced during sexual intimacy. Throughout history, people all over the world are exploring food that can energize their sexual lives. It is therefore not surprising to find that some of the aphrodisiacs resemble the texture or shape of human sexual organs.

In general, aphrodisiacs can be categorised as follows:

· Foods that create warmth and moisture e.g. chili or curry. These foods are supposed to arouse "heated" passion

· Foods that resemble male or female genitalia e.g. oyster and carrots.

· Foods from animal’s reproductive organs e.g. animal’s eggs

· Foods considered as rare and exotic: They are believed to be sexually exciting.

· Foods that stimulate the desire. e.g. spices, garlic

Some of these foods e.g. dark chocolate contain a brain stimulant, phenethylamine which may heighten the love senses. But according to a review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in USA, there is no scientific proof that all the purported aphrodisiacs work. There are also no randomized controlled trials that can confirm or prove that these foods have an effect on sexual function or desire.

Regardless of their action, it is suggested that aphrodisiacs work by psychological and emotional suggestions. If one believes taking a particular food will enhance the sex life, it can help bring about sexual desire and arousal, a placebo effect.

A good night's sleep, time, privacy and good communication with the spouse may just do the same.

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