Before there were male enhancement supplements and other modern male enhancement methods, men relied mostly on aphrodisiacs to boost sexual performance. Almost every culture has developed or discovered an extract or concoction used to boost libido and enhance sexual performance.
Majority of aphrodisiacs were meant to be ingested, others to be applied topically. Many of these discoveries are used as ingredients in male enhancement supplements and topical male enhancement products. Some were innocuous like herbs and oils, others weird and disgusting like bat blood, frog bones, monkey dung, etc. A few were dangerous, like cayenne peppers swallowed or rubbed directly on the penis.
The efficacy of aphrodisiacs is still subject to much debate. Pharmacosexology, a new field of science that combines elements of pharmacology and sexology, has been created to study the effects of different substances, like herbs, drugs, and likely in the future, male enhancement supplements, to human sexual response.
The rise of aphrodisiacs can be traced in two ways. The first was mainly associative. Anything that looked phallic or resembled the genitals, like avocados, bananas, carrots, horns, etc. seemed like a logical place to start, And then there were actual genitals of conquered enemies and hunted animals. While eating genitals may seem disgusting and ridiculous to most people nowadays, the concept is alive and well in many parts of the world, particularly in Asia.
The South China tiger is now on the brink of extinction due to the demand for its testicles, which are believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Some Chinese male enhancement supplements contain ingredients like seal penis and testes.
While these putative aphrodisiacs may contain some nutritional value, their sex-enhancing properties have not been proven in clinical studies. Erectile dysfunction has yet to be cured by ingesting something that looks like a penis or testicle, or by the genitals of certain animals.
The infamous Spanish fly is arguably one of the best known aphrodisiacs of all time. Ancient Assyrians used it to treat erectile dysfunction. Nero’s wife Livia was rumored to slip it in the food of dinner guests in the hope of bedding them and blackmailing them afterwards. Henry IV was said to have taken it and slipped it into Louis XIV’s food to help the latter rekindle his interest in his mistress. Marquis de Sade did the same to guests at an orgy.
Spanish fly comes from the emerald-green blister beetle, which secretes an acidic substance called cantharidin as a defensive agent. In proper doses, cantharidin can help induce an erection in both humans and animals. However, cantharidin is a highly toxic substance. (Learn more in Male Enhancement Basics: Aphrodisiacs (Part 2)