Natural Aphrodisiacs

Sexual Attraction

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Sexual Attraction Summary

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Fenugreek

(Trigonella ornithopodioides) The conspicuous hornlike pod containing the seed, which provides the spice, gave the plant its Greek name Keratitis (keras means horn). The seed has been used in a number of different ways. It is one of the chief ingredients of Kuphi, the Egyptian embalming and incense oil (Sanecki), and a Nubian people, the Keruz, used to prepare a ritual drink on the birth of a child. One of the ingredients was fenugreek, which was said to relieve pain, Fenugreek has been traditionally used to treat catarrh (Schauenberg & Paris), but the fact that the seeds contain a great deal of mucilage in their outer coating make them useful in other ways. They are, for example, cooked in water into a paste or porridge, which is used as a hot compress on boils, abscesses and the like (Fluck), or for mastitis (Van Andel). It is also prescribed with anise to treat lactation difficulties, as a tea made with the seeds of both plants (W A R Thomson. 1928). The thick paste was used in...

Aphrodisiacs

Including the one given by Shakespeare - Cupid's Flower. On the priciple of homeopathic magic, that which causes love will also cure it, or the result of it. That was why it was prescribed for venereal disease. Gerard noted the belief, and prescribed the distilled water of the herbe or floures given to drinke for ten or more daies together (it) doth wonderfully ease the paines of the French disease, and cureth the same. . Culpeper too regarded it as an excellent cure for the French disease, the herb being a gallant Antivener-ean , the latter remark being contrary to the accepted belief of his time. But such a hopeless idea as pansy being aphrodisiac must be reflected in the best-known of the love names - Love-in-idleness, for that can only mean Love-in-vain, a name that is actually recorded in Somerset (Grigson. 1955). Who would ever have thought of POTATOES as aphrodisiacs But Shakespeare was only echoing popular belief when he had Falstaff say Let the sky rain Potatoes and hail...

Diabetes And Female Sexual Dysfunction

Women with diabetes are at increased risk for sexual arousal disorder that is, inadequate vaginal and clitoral swelling in response to sexual arousal. A small research study showed that in women with type 1 diabetes, sildenafil improved arousal, orgasm, and sexual enjoyment. A woman with diabetes should discuss problems of sexual arousal with her physician.

Polygalasaponin aglycone

It is medicinally used from Korea to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. In Korea, the plant is used as an aphrodisiac for males and the elderly. In Japan, a decoction of the root is drunk to treat cough, invigorate, and treat tuberculosis. In Taiwan, the plant is an external remedy for snake bites. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the roots are used to treat bronchitis, amnesia, and to stimulate memory and urination. The antitussive property is very probably owed to polygalasaponins, which are known to abound in the plant (24-26). It would be interesting to know whether the tonic properties mentioned here are owed to serotoninergic mechanisms. What is the alkaloidal content of this herb

Intraspecific Interactions

Males and females may undertake various types of precop-ulatory behavior before mating. These may involve the sensing of species-specific alkene aphrodisiacs related to cuticular hydrocarbons, as in aleocharine Staphylinidae. Males or females may stridulate as part of their behavioral repertoire. In Meloidae, a male will climb onto the dorsum of the female and antennate her head, palps, or antennae. In Eupompha meloids, the males draw the antennae of the females along a longitudinal sulcus on the male vertex (Fig. 49). Genitalic insertion by the male is successfully attempted only after antennation of the female. The passage of a nuptial gift of the highly toxic compound cantharidin has been incorporated into mating behavior in the pyrochroid fire beetles. In Neopyrochroa flabellata, the female samples an exudate from a transverse sulcus on the male vertex. If the exudate contains the terpenoid cantharidin (better known as the mammalian aphrodisiac Spanish fly), the male successfully...

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin

Elevation of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) associated with renal cell carcinoma RCC has been reported (McCloskey and O'Connor 1982 Golde et al. 1974 Fukutani et al. 1983). In males, clinical findings include gynecomastia, decreased libido, and elevated urine and serum hCG levels. Only a small number of cases have been reported, though there is no direct evidence of tumor production of these hormones. Gy-necomastia and increased urinary levels gonadotro-pins associated with RCC have been reported with resolution of the endocrine abnormality following ne-phrectomy (Laski and Vugrin 1987).

Hormones and Aging Hope Springs Eternal

Serum levels of total and bioavailable testosterone gradually decrease with age in men and are associated with changes in cognition. Cher-rier and coinvestigators (2001) examined the relationship between exogenous testosterone administration and cognitive abilities in a population of healthy older men. The investigators raised the circulating total testosterone in the treatment group an average of 130 from baseline at week 3 and 116 at week 6. Because of aromatization of testosterone, estradiol increased an average of 77 at week 3 and 73 at week 6 in the treatment group. Significant improvements in cognition were observed for spatial memory (recall of a walking route), spatial ability (block construction), and verbal memory (recall of a short story) in older men treated with testosterone compared with their baseline evaluation and the performance of the placebo group. Although no one has investigated if hormonal treatment with testosterone can restore the age-related decrease of...

Personal and psychological issues

Of control of fertility and an ongoing mourning for the lost pregnancy still frequently reported 5-10 years after treatment 20 . Additionally issues regarding self-esteem, and loss of sexual desire can be troublesome for many years after treatment however, overall marital happiness does not seem to be impaired for trophoblast patients and their partners 21 . A number of surveys have demonstrated the wish of many patients to have more support through counselling and support at diagnosis and continuing even after treatment, and the recognition of this need must be addressed at centres and in the community subsequently.

Veterinary Uses Of Plants

It is well-known as being severely toxic to animals (Forsyth), causing cirrhosis of the liver, from which the animal cannot recover. The trouble is that animals will not usually eat it, so it flowers and seeds undisturbed, and the effect is eventually to produce more ragwort than grass in a pasture. The condition is known in Canada as the Pictou cattle disease, and the scientific name is seneciosis. The problem is that the plant seems to have been used as a curing agent this is St James's Wort, and St James is the patron saint of horses. The use of Ragwort in veterinary practice seems to be confirmed by other names, such as Staggerwort, that is, the herb that cures staggers in horses. Sir Edward Salisbury, for one, stated clearly that staggers was actually caused by Ragwort. If both views are correct, here is an example of homeopathic magic at work, of like curing like. East Anglian horsemen favoured the use of FEVERFEW on their charges. A way to control unruly...

Origin Botanical Facts

Arugula belongs to the Cruciferae family and is a close relative of the mustard. Ancient Egyptians and Romans considered arugula leaves in salads to be an aphrodisiac. It is a minor crop in the southeastern United States, grown to a limited extent commercially and in home vegetable gardens. Seeds often are listed in seed catalogs as roquette under the category of herbs. A cool season vegetable best grown in Florida during the fall, winter, and spring, it matures from seed in 2 to 3 months. Periods of very warm temperatures cause it to bolt (go to seed) rather quickly. Few pests attack the arugula.

Reproduction And Development

In males, FSH stimulates the testes to produce sperm and another hormone called inhibin. The inhibin inhibits FSH production, thus forming a negative feedback loop to control sperm production. LH stimulates the testes to produce testosterone. The testosterone inhibits GnRH and LH secretion, forming a negative feedback control loop. Testosterone has many functions, including (1) combining with FSH to stimulate sperm production, (2) affecting aggressive behavior and sexual desire through the CNS function, (3) stimulation of protein synthesis and muscle growth, (4) stimulation of secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair, (5) maintaining accessory organs, and (6) in fetuses it stimulates the formation of male reproductive system. In contrast to females, GnRH production in males is relatively constant from hour to hour or day to day, thus keeping its effects also at a constant level.

Fsh and lhomas Pituitary Tumors Secreting Fsh Or Lh

FSH- and LH-secreting tumors are usually clinically silent. Rare cases of tumors presenting with clinical features have been reported. A 28-yr-old Finnish woman presented with oligoamenorrhea and pelvic pain. A detailed assessment revealed elevated FSH and estradiol with an appropriately suppressed LH enlarged ovaries with multiple cysts were seen on pelvic ultrasound examination. Both gonadotropins and the a-subunit exhibited a paradoxic response to TRH, and MRI revealed a pituitary macroadenoma. After removal of the pituitary tumor, all hormone values normalized, and the patient resumed normal menstrual cycles. In another report, transsphenoidal tumor resection was found in a girl who presented with precocious puberty. LH hypersecretion from a pituitary adenoma was also documented in two cases. Thus, varying degrees of hypopituitarism may occur in these patients, with decreased libido and erectile dysfunction in men and oligo- or amenorrhea in women. Alternatively, central...

Female Sexual Dysfunction

Problems affecting sexuality in women with diabetes are fatigue, changes in peri-menstrual blood glucose control, vaginitis, decreased sexual desire, decreased vaginal lubrication, and an increased time to reach orgasm. Even minor episodes of depression, which is twice more frequent than in men can result in a loss of libido. To which degree these symptoms are related to autonomic neuropathy has also been examined in a few studies, the results of which are at variance (73). The examination for a women with diabetes with sexual dysfunction should include the duration of symptoms, psychological state, concommitant, medications, presence of vaginitis, cystitis and other infections, frequency of intercourse, blood pressure, BMI, retinal status, pelvic examination, presence of discharge, and glycemic control (74).

Upright St Johns Wort

(Valeriana officinalis) This is one of the many plants once thought to be an aphrodisiac (Haining), and it is said that Welsh girls used to hide a piece of it in their girdles, or inside their bodices, in order to hold a man's attention (Trevelyan). It is sewn into children's clothes in the Balkans, though for quite a different reason. There it is an amulet to ward off witches (Vukanovic).

Abscess

GROUNDSEL, MALLOW or MARSH MALLOW poultices were quite common for boils and abscesses (Hampshire FWI, Fluck, Tongue. 1965), and a hot compress made from FENUGREEK seeds was used in the same way (Fluck). The inner leaves of CABBAGE could be used, too (V G Hatfield. 1994), and in Ireland, a favourite treatment was to make a tea from BROOM tops, and bathe the place with this (Maloney). MADONNA LILY petals, macerated in alcohol, usually brandy, were bound to abscesses, boils and ulcers (Porter), and to all sorts of other skin eruptions. A poultice of WILD SORREL leaves was used in parts of South Africa to treat an abscess (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk). Similarly, a poultice of chickweed is still prescribed by herbalists (Warren-Davis).

Amulets

Figures cut from a MANDRAKE root were worn as amulets by both men and women in Palestine as fertility charms (Budge). The plant was believed to be an aphrodisiac, and Palestinian women quite often used to bind a piece of the root to their arm, the belief being that it could only exert its magical influence if worn in contact with the skin (G E Smith).

General Concept

Our early ancestors cultivated Valeriana (Valeriana officinalis L., Valerianaceae), hemp (Cannabis sativa L., Cannabinaceae), and opium (Papaver somniferum L.), the vestiges of which have been found in Croc-Magnon caves. Hippocrates mentions in the Corpus Hippocraticum three Solanaceae Hyoscyamus niger (henbane), Atropa belladona L. (belladona), and Mandragora officinarum L. (mandrake), which were used later by witches to enter into delirium. The root of Mandragora officinarum L., with its human shape, played a prominent role in the European pharmacopeia of the Middle Ages, and had the reputation of being an aphrodisiac.

Black Bryony

(Tamus communis) Like a piece of silver, the root of back bryony was used when a hare suspected of being a metamorphosised witch was to be shot. Powder was put in the barrel and a piece of this root, the whole rammed down as if it were real shot. And they say you could cut a hole through a door using this root (Evans & Thomson). East Anglian farm horsemen used to put black bryony root, shredded, into their horses' feed to bring up the gloss on their coats (G E Evans. 1966). But they believed it had supernatural powers as well - the association with mandrake (see WHITE BRYONY) was evident here, for they said it had aphrodisiac qualities for both man and horse.

Liriodenine

In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves or roots is drunk as a protective remedy after childbirth, and the plant is used to stimulate sexual desire and to invigorate. It is also used to promote sweating and to treat cough. The plant has not been yet investigated for pharmacology but one could suggest that the aphrodisiac and tonic properties might result from a mood elevation via inhibition of serotonin re-uptake. Note that the root of Cyathostemma argenteum contains liriodenine and discretamine (5). Liriode-nine is known to block muscarinic receptors, but knowledge on its effects on the sero-toninergic system is quite vestigial (6).

Catchthorn

(Zizyphus abyssinica) In Malawi, an extremely potent alcoholic drink called kachaso is made from the berries (Palgrave & Palgrave). The leaves are chewed as an aphrodisiac, and a root decoction is used as an abortifacient, while the root infusion is taken for dysentery. There is a lot of tannin in both the bark and leaves, so its use for dysentery probably depends on this. A powder prepared by drying and pounding is used to rub into incisions made on the chest in cases of pneumonia (Palgrave & Palgrave).

Contraceptives

New Forest gypsies regarded NETTLES as a contraceptive, although they implemented the belief in a strange way. The man had to put nettle leaves inside his socks before intercourse But, unlikely as it may sound, nettles have been regarded as aphrodisiacs, perhaps as flagellants (Leland). It was the seeds that powerfully stimulate the sexual functions , and nettles figured in a Greek remedy for impotence (Simons). PARSLEY beliefs are often connected with conception and childbirth in a very confused way. While acting as an aid to conception, in the Cotswolds area, it is contraceptive (Briggs. 1974). Gerard noted that SPEARMINT acted as a contraceptive Dioscorides teacheth, That being applied to the secret part of a woman before the act, it hindreth conception .

Deadly Nightshade

Hallucinations could also take on a sexual tone. Large doses of the drug are liable to result in irresponsible sexual behaviour, a fact that gave it a great reputation in medieval times as an aphrodisiac (Rawcliffe). Such beliefs readily gave rise to lesser superstitions. In Normandy, for instance, they used to say that anyone who walks barefoot over the Deadly Nightshade will immediately go mad (W B Johnson), and in the Highlands of Scotland it was said to be used to make people see ghosts (Kennedy). An Irish superstition said that the juice distilled, and given in a drink, would make the person who drank it believe whatever the operator wanted him to (Wilde. 1925). Of course, such a plant is the devil's favourite, he watches over it, but there was a way of getting the plant and putting it to its rightful use, which was, so the legend has it, to rub on a horse, so that the animal gains strength. The way to get it was for a farmer to loose a black hen on Walpurgis Night. The devil...

Early Purple Orchid

(Orchis mascula) The commonest of the British native orchids. The tubers (and those of most of the Orchis species of Europe and Northern Asia), when prepared, yield salep, which had, at least according to the doctrine of signatures (the word orchid means testicle) a reputation for curing impotence (Pliny gemina radice, testiculus simili), a reputation flourishing in eastern countries particularly, though it is represented too in north-east Scotland, where the root was used as an aphrodisiac, the old tuber being discarded, and the new one used. It would be dried, ground, and secretly administered as a potion (Anson). John Moncrieff of Tippermalloch (in the 18th century) went further

Galingale

Galingale is a spice native to China and Indonesia, and a member of the ginger family. It looks similar to ginger, and has the pungent taste of ginger and pepper combined. In antiquity it was used for medicinal purposes, but in the Middle Ages it was added to dishes across the Continent, from Italy to Germany, and all the way to England. It may also have played a role in the adulteration of pepper. Classified by physicians as extremely warm and dry, galingale was recommended for a cold stomach, as a digestive aid, a breath freshener, and an aphrodisiac.

Impotence

The testicle-suggesting tubers of EARLY PURPLE ORCHID would ensure that Salep, a preparation made from them, enjoyed a reputation for curing impotence. Salep, which has medicinal value, was extremely popular, particularly in eastern countries, for the purpose. It was treated as an aphrodisiac. ANISE was used as a Greek cure for the condition ointments were made of the root of narcissus mixed with the seeds of anise or nettles (Simons). The early Persian and Arabian doctors prescribed GINGER for impotence

Incense

CINNAMON has been used as incense - a little burned on charcoal, it is claimed, is good for aiding meditation and clairvoyance (Valiente). Egyptians used FENUGREEK seeds to make an incense oil (Sanecki), and powdered dried PATCHOULI leaves are sometimes introduced into incense (Schery). It is said that the Chinese used the sawdust of SANDALWOOD to make incense, mixed with swine's dung( ) (Moldenke & Moldenke). CARDAMOM seeds are sometimes burned to produce an incenselike atmosphere (Valiente).

Pomegranates

Its many seeds are surrounded by pulp and retained in a membrane. In antiquity and the Middle Ages it was a symbol of fertility. A characteristic feature of Middle Eastern cuisine, the pomegranate also gained a certain popularity in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean, which was strongly influenced by Arab culture, and in England. Seeds were used as a garnish, and the juice was added to some dishes. Considered warm and moist in nature, sweet pomegranates were prescribed by medieval physicians for coughs and as an aphrodisiac. When eaten before a meal pomegranates supposedly stimulated the appetite.

Jackinthepulpit

(Arisaema triphyllum) The spadix is the 'Jack', and the spathe is the 'pulpit' (Parson-in-the-pulpit is another name for it). Keep a piece in the pocket as a preventive against rheumatism (H M Hyatt). African-Americans in the southern states of the USA look on it as a protective plant. They would take the leaves and rub them on the hands, and that would blind an enemy. But they use it to make charms to bring security and peace, and to protect them from enemies (Puckett). The leaves are luck-bringers, if you carry them on the person. For centuries it was regarded as an aphrodisiac (Whittle & Cook) (the spadix in the spathe is expressive enough). But this is a poison, inasmuch as the rhizomes are extremely acrid. They are certainly edible after boiling, for that reduces the poison, though the acrid principle is never entirely eliminated.

Lettuce

Beneath a lettuce ( ), a boar ate the leaves, and by so doing managed to wound Adonis mortally (Gubernatis. 1878). Another version says that Adonis was struck by the boar after having eaten a lettuce (Gubernatis. 1872), something that probably means that he lost his sexual powers after eating it. (Gerard was saying the same thing a very long time afterwards, and so was Thomas Hill). This belief is an inversion of the original one, for lettuce was thought to have the power of arousing love and of promoting childbearing if eaten by a wife. But by the 19th century we have a saying O'er much lettuce in the garden will prevent a young wife's bearing (Notes and Queries. vol 7 1853p152). Women were wary of lettuce, for it would cause barrenness. The belief probably arose because it was thought that the plant itself was sterile, and was regarded as antaphrodisiac, according to the 10th cen-btury Geopontica (Rose). It is recorded that women in Richmond, Surrey, would carefully count the...

Lovage

(Ligusticum scoticum) A reputed aphrodisiac, but only in all probability as a result of misunderstanding the name Lovage, which was Loveache in Middle English, levesche in Old French (modern French is liveche), levisticum in late Latin, and thence to Ligusticum. It appears in Roumanian folklore as a protective plant that could be used as well as wormwood or hedge hyssop to repel evil forces (Beza).

Patchouli

(Pogostemon patchouli) The famous eastern perfume, from a plant whose scent is very powerful, and in an unadulterated form very unpleasant, smelling strongly of goats. But when the attar is diluted with attar of roses, the unpleasant quality goes completely (Genders. 1972). Patchouli oil is obtained by distillation of the leaves. Patchouli perfume (not the same as the oil) is also made from the leaves - it has the reputation of being aphrodisiac. Powdered dried patchouli leaves are sometimes introduced into incense (Schery). The perfume first became known in Britain about 1820, when it was used to impregnate Indian shawls which became so fashionable that the designs were copied by Paisley weavers for export to many other parts of the world. But they could not sell them if they did not smell of patchouli (Genders. 1972).

Sesame

(Sesamum indicum) In spite of the specific name, this is an African plant, though it was taken to India at an early date. From there it spread to China (Brouk), and, in times of slavery, to Brazil. Sesame oil is known as benne in West Africa, teel (til) or gingili in India, and sim-sim in East Africa. A confection of sesame and honey has always been popular in China, and in America bene candy is traditional (G B Foster). The seed, soaked in sparrow's eggs, and cooked in milk, was used for centuries as an aphrodisiac. Sesame oil was a cosmetic, it was mixed with vinegar as an ointment for the forehead, to strengthen the brain , and, blended with crow's gall, as an embrocation for impotence (Lehner & Lehner).

Gynecomastia

About 10 of choriocarcinoma of the testis and 15 - 20 of gonadal stroma sex cord testicular tumors induce gynecomastia through their autonomous synthesis and secretion of estrogens. Tumor estrogen production may also cause decreased libido and poor sperm quality. The diagnosis of these hormone producing tumors is usually clinically evident from the finding of a testicular swelling that might be painless or painful. Occasionally the sole presenting feature is gynecomastia or very rarely decreased potency and no palpable testicular lesion (Lemack et al. 1995 Haas et al. 1989). Under these circumstances the diagnosis of testicular neoplasia may be missed. The presence of such occult tumors may be suspected from the biochemical findings of raised serum estrogens and depressed testosterone hormone levels. However, this does not always apply as some clinically recognizable estrogenic tumors have been reported in patients with normal hormonal profiles. Although gy-necomastia is a relatively...

Tomato

Love-apples is an old name for tomatoes, arising from a mis-reading. The original Italian name was 'pomo dei moro' (apple of the Moors), and this later became 'pomo d'ore' (hence Gerard's Gold-apples). It was introduced to France as an aphrodisiac, and the French mis-spelled its name as 'pomme d'amour'. So the tomato eventually reached England under the name 'pome amoris' - love-apple, which name went back to America with the colonists (Lehner & Lehner).

White Waterlily

It was said once that if you fall while holding the flower in your hand, you would become epileptic (Grimm). The rhizome was used as an anti-aphrodisiac, to suppress sexual excitement, and the plant was nicknamed destroyer of pleasure because of its supposed power as a love-killer (Schauenberg & Paris). Gerard knew about this, and recommended the decoction, or use the seed or root in pouder in his meats for it drieth up the seed of generation, and so causeth a man to be chaste . There was a cosmetic use once - the dew gathered from the cups of these waterlilies was used in Hampshire to enhance the appearance of the eyes (Hampshire FWI).

Wild Sage

The seed drunk with wine was reckoned to be aphrodisiac, a view to which Culpeper subscribed, but there were less recondite uses in medicine. A decoction, for instance, was used in Lincolnshire for sprains (Gutch & Peacock). But the other prescriptions are much older, and less particular, like this 15th century remedy for botches Take oculus Christi and vervain, and make a plaster of them and lay it from the boil two finger-breadths, and again put it as far further. And so do till it come to the place where you will break it . (Dawson. 1934). Hardly a model of clarity. Oculus Christi, is, of course Christ's Eye ( most blasphemously called Christ's Eye, because it cures Diseases of the Eye (Culpeper)).

Yellow Waterlily

(Nuphar lutea) In Holland, it was once said that boys should be extremely careful in handling these waterlilies, for if a boy falls with the flowers on him, he immediately becomes subject to fits (Black). Presumably, this is another way of saying what Sebillot quotes as a French superstition, that they are anti-aphrodisiac. On the other hand, any prohibition on picking the flowers might simply be to discourage children from going into a potentially dangerous places (Vickery. 1995). (see also BRANDY BOTTLES)

Poppy Anemone

By the time potatoes had reached Europe, some very odd beliefs had become attached to them. Whoever would have thought of them as aphrodisiac But Shakespeare was only echoing popular belief when he had Falstaff say Let the sky rain Potatoes, and hail Kissing-comfits, and snow Eringoes . Almost certainly he was talking about sweet potatoes, but no matter, the idea lingered after the introduction of our potato, and all because of a fundamental error. Being a tuber, it was mistaken by the Spanish who first came across both the potato (papa) and sweet potato (batata), for a truffle, and the truffle was the trufa, eventually meaning testicle, and so an aphrodisiac (Wasson). The other Spanish term for the truffle was turma de tierra, even more explicitly 'earth testicle'. Putting a potato (or the peelings) outside a girl's door as an expression of contempt for her on May Day (Salaman) is probably a relic of the aphrodisiac belief, though a whole range was used then to express the villagers'...

Willow

But according to the dream books, if one has a dream of oneself mourning under a willow over some calamity, it is actually a happy omen, forecasting good news (Gordon. 1985). Because of their association with water, willows could be symbols of resurrection (Curl), and that may be why branches of willow are carried by mourners at a mason's funeral (Puckle). In China they have from very ancient times been looked on as tokens of immortality (Curl). They are even credited with aphrodisiac qualities - spring water in which willow seeds have been steeped was strongly recommended in England as an aphrodisiac, but with the caveat that he who drinks it will have no sons, and only barren daughters (Boland. 1977). The human backbone, according to Ainu tradition, was originally made of a willow branch, and the backbone, they say, is the seat of life (Munro). Willow was a symbol of vitality in China, too, and it is that aspect of it that probably accounts for the wearing of willow wreaths as a...

Childbirth

PARSLEY superstitions include many connected with conception and childbirth, summed up in the saying sow parsley, sow babies (Waring). The parsley bed, like the gooseberry bush, was once the euphemistic breeding grounds of babies (Gordon. 1977), or at least girl babies were found there (Baker. 1977). But many of these parsley beliefs are confused, ranging as they do from aphrodisiacs to abortifacients. WILD PARSNIP was used in Anglo-Saxon times for a difficult labour (M L Cameron).

Garlic

Swedish bridegrooms used to sew sprigs of garlic, thyme or some other strongly-scented plants into their clothing to avert the evil eye, and in southern Saudi Arabia the bridegroom wears it in his turban (M Baker). Among gypsy wedding customs was one that required the bride to hang up bundles of garlic in her house - for luck and against evil, for the garlic turns black after attracting all the evil to itself, and so protects her (Starkie). In France (Lorraine) a pregnant woman would be advised to eat plenty of garlic if she wanted a boy (Loux). All these beliefs may help to explain why in some places garlic was reckoned to be the symbol of abundance - material abundance, that is, for it used to be bought at the Midsummer festival in Bologna as a charm against poverty during the coming year. But it used to be regarded as an aphrodisiac at one time. Chaucer's Somnour, who was lecherous as a sparwe , was particularly fond of it

Vervain

In Rome, it was carried as a symbol of inviolability by the state envoys when dealing with an enemy, but that did not stop both the Greeks and Romans dedicating it to the god of war (C J S Thompson. 1897), and it was sacred to Thor in Scandinavia too. Leland. 1898 says it was a plant of Venus. In other words, it was used as an aphrodisiac, or some kind of love philtre (Folkard). As such it was planted at the door step in the southern states of America to attract lovers (M Baker. 1977). Pillows stuffed with verbena were recommended for their strong aphrodisiac scent (Boland. 1977) perhaps just a sprig in a pillow would do. Piedmontese belief had it that if young men gathered it on Midsummer Eve, any girls they shook hands with would fall in love with them (Canziani. 1913). In the Fen country, courting couples used to exchange vervain leaves to keep carefully in their Bibles. If the leaves kept green, then the love of both was true, but if they turned brown, it was a sign that one of...

Cuckoopint

(Arum maculatum) The scarlet berries are poisonous, and the whole plant has an acrid juice. Tricks used to be played on children and simple people by giving them a small piece of the root to chew. It tastes alright at first, but then the victim experiences a horrible burning sensation that lasts a long time (Carr). That acrid sensation is caused by aroine, an unstable toxin that is produced from the plant and can cause blistering of the skin. But the plant was once cultivated on the Isle of Portland for the tubers, which when cooked yielded Portland Sago, as it was called, used as a substitute for arrowroot. It was quite popular at one time because it was thought to be aphrodisiac, as the very form of the plant proclaimed. Portland Sago was a pure and white starch , as Gerard said, but most hurtfull to the hands of the Laundresse that hath the handling of it, for it chappeth, blistereth, and maketh the hands rough and rugged, and withall smarting . This starch was at one time used in...

Castor Oil Plant

Was cured at one time by taking the powder made from CONKERS as a snuff. The Pennsylvania Germans used it that way (Fogel), but this was quite an early habit (Thornton), and the idea was to grate them up and use the powder to make one sneeze. Apparently it was recommended not only as a powder, but also as an infusion or decoction to take up the nostrils. SANICLE can be used to treat catarrh (an infusion of the astringent leaves) (Conway). Smoking the crushed berries of VIRGINIAN JUNIPER is an American domestic remedy for catarrh (H M Hyatt). The fern known as POLYPODY was made in Scotland into a medicine for catarrh (Beith), and FENUGREEK is also used as a traditional treatment for the condition (Schauenberg & Paris), who also suggest that the infusion of the flowers of SMALL-LEAVED LIME was used.

Parkinsons Disease

That happens to be from Gwent (Wherry), but similar sayings are very widespread. The sight of it must have had an inhibiting effect on men, and so mothers with daughters did not like to see parsley flourishing, as it was apt to condemn the girls to spinsterhood (Rohde). The belief undoubtedly accounts for the Berkshire saying, never pick parsley when you are in love it will kill the love . On the other hand, parsley wine is an aphrodisiac, or so they used to say in Gloucestershire (Baker. 1977).

Palsywort

Like a good many other plants, pansies were once thought to be aphrodisiac. Shakespeare, of course, knew this, for didn't Oberon tell Puck to put a pansy on the eyes of Titania And it was dedicated to St Valentine all this accounts for the numerous love names, including the one given by Shakespeare - Cupid's Flower , and a lot of examples of the Kiss-me-love-at-the-garden-gate type. On the principle of homeopathic magic, that which causes love will also cure it. That was why it was prescribed for venereal diseases. Gerard noted the belief, and prescribed the distilled water of the herbe or floures given to drinke for ten or more daies together, three ounces in the morning, and the like quantitie at night, doth wonderfully ease the paines of the French disease, and cureth the same, if the patient be caused to sweat sundry times . Culpeper too regarded it as an excellent cure for the French disease, the herb being a gallant Antivenerean , the latter remark being contrary to the accepted...

Love Charms

Fenland girls used YARROW as a love charm, by pinning it on the dress, and then taking every opportunity to get as near as possible to young men, in order to declare their love by means of the flowers. If a girl found that the man she was interested in ignored the hint, then she was likely to wait for a full moon, go to a patch of yarrow and walk barefoot among them. She would then shut her eyes, bend down and pick a bunch. If she found next morning that the dew was still on the yarrow, then all was not yet lost - it was a sign that he would soon come courting in earnest. If the flowers were quite dry, on the other hand, she could wait till the next full moon and try again (Porter. 1969), or look elsewhere, of course. VALERIAN, once supposed to be aphrodisiac, was used by Welsh girls. They used to hide a piece of it in their girdle, or inside their bodice, to hold a man's attention (Trevelyan). A Breton charm was for a man to put HOUSELEEK in his pocket, and to make a girl smell it,...

Mandrake

If the Alraun looked after the fertility of German married couples in its care, in Greece the mandrake became a symbol of the golden apples of Aphrodite, or of Aphrodite herself. Elliot Smith discussed this connection at some length. As its name Love-apple (this is what the Hebrew name dudaim means) suggests, it was reckoned to have aphrodisiac as well as narcotic properties. This was the reason it was dedicated to the goddess. So also, it should be gathered on a Friday, the day of the goddess (Bonser). Theo-phrastus, in the 4th century BC, recommended the root, scraped and soaked in vinegar, as an aphrodisiac (Dyer. 1889). One of the Egyptian names means phallus of the field, and an Arabic name was devil's testicles (Ellis). It was the fruit that was to be used it had the power, so it was said, to put an end to barrenness, quite independently of sexual intercourse. See Genesis 30 14-16. Rachel bargained for the mandrake with her sister Leah (by giving up her husband to her). She...

Symbolism

CYCLAMEN was taken as the symbol of voluptuousness (Haig), for it had the reputation since ancient times of being an aphrodisiac, however unlikely that sounds. CUCKOO-PINT is another matter. Friend said that it is the symbol of zeal and ardour. It was probably his way of giving some respectability to the subject, for to the common people the very form of this plant, the spadix in the spathe, stood for copulation. That is the reason for the many male + female names given to it, and the sexual overtones of many of the rest. ELDER too is a symbol of zeal, according to the ideas of Raban Maur (Haig), though doubtless not with the same undertones. HAWTHORN too became a symbol of carnal love as opposed to spiritual love. It is the arbor cupidatitis, used as such throughout the literature of the Middle Ages. The symbolism probably arose from the scent, the trimethylamine of which causes the smell of putrefaction. But the scent has this other interpretation as well - that of sex. The smell...

Hawthorn

There was a tradition in some places in England that hawthorn flowers preserved the stench of London during the plague. They contain trimethylamine, and this is an ingredient of the smell of putrefaction (Grigson). It is often said that the hawthorn has a deathly smell . The scent has another interpretation - that of sex. It was said to arouse sexual desire (Anderson), and the tree itself was used constantly in medieval love allegory. It is the arbor cupidatitis, the symbol of carnal love as opposed to spiritual love, and was used as such throughout the literature of the Middle Ages (Eberly). Like the hazel (another lightning plant), hawthorn has from early times been connected with marriage rites, either, as in Greece and Rome, as an ingredient of the bridal wreath, or as decoration for the altar. Even in this country we find traces of hawthorn propitiation at the time of a marriage. At Polwarth, in Berwickshire, newly-weds, with their friends, had to dance round the two ancient...

Walnut

Sexual magic was performed with walnuts. Arnold de Villeneuve, the Catalan physician and alchemist, who lived from 1235 to 1311, gave a receipt for tying the knot . One takes a walnut, separates the two halves, and puts them in the marriage bed. The counter charm is to stick the two halves together, crack the nut, and then the couple eat it (Bouisson). It is because the nuts are of two halves that they were symbols of marriage. Walnuts were scattered at Roman weddings, and Pliny described them as symbols of marriage and protectors of resultant offspring. The tree remained a bridegroom's symbol in Germany until at least Evelyn's time in several places in Germany, no young farmer whatsoever is permitted to marry a wife, till he bring proof that he hath planted, and is a father of such a stated number of walnut trees, as the law is inviolably observed to this day. . It is mentioned as an aphrodisiac in Piers Plowman (I B Jones). There is a particular walnut tree in the region of Creuzay,

Purslane

See also GREEN PURSLANE (Portulaca oleracea). One of the many supposed to be aphrodisiac (Haining). It has certainly been used as a medicine for a long time, as a cure for erysipelas, while Thomas Hill was of opinion that it helped the shingles . He also recommended it as helping the burning Fever. , for worms and for toothache. It also helpeth swolne eyes, and spitting of bloud it stayeth the bleeding at the Nose, and the head-ache (T Hill. 1577).

Japanese Mint

(Jasminum officinale) A symbol of grace, elegance and amiability, and an emblem of the Virgin Mary (Ferguson). A south Indian folktale tells of a king whose laugh would spontaneously spread the fragrance of jasmine for miles around (Classen, Howes & Synott). It is one of the many plants once supposed, mistakenly, to be aphrodisiac (Haining). In Italy, it is woven into bridal wreaths. There is a proverb that says that a girl who is worthy of being decorated with jasmine is rich enough for any husband (McDonald). Around Menton, however, they believed the bride whose husband offered her a bouquet of jasmine would die within the year (Sebillot). To dream of jasmine is generally a good omen, especially to lovers (Gordon. 1985), and in ancient times, one of the ways of practising capnomancy (divination by smoke) was by throwing seeds of jasmine or poppy in the fire, and watching the motion and density of the smoke. If it was thin, and shot up in a straight line, it was a good omen (Adams).

Conception aids to

Women who wanted children were told to eat LEEKS, and not only in Wales, though Evelyn noted that the Welch, who eat them much, are observed to be very fruitful , and the Welsh medical text known as the Physicians of Myddfai lists among the virtues of leeks that it is good for women who desire children to eat (them) . Perhaps the reason for such claims lies in the Germanic peoples' belief that leeks contribute to manly vigour (Wimberley), clearly derived from their upstanding growth. CARAWAY, at least according to Gerard, helpeth conception , but he did not go into details. BIRTHWORT must obviously be included here. The doctrine of signatures, from the shape of the flowers which constrict into a tube that opens into a globular swelling at the base, interpreted as the womb and the birth passage, ensured its use to help delivery, etc., The generic name is Aristolochia, which comes from two Greek words meaning 'best birth'. As well as helping delivery, it was said to encourage conception...

Coriander

The offensive smell when handled was the source of the medieval idea that it was poisonous (Fluckiger & Hanbury). But it was one of the many plants supposed to be aphrodisiac (Haining). Albertus Magnus (De virtutibus herbarum) includes coriander among the ingredients of a love potion, and its use as an aphrodisiac is mentioned too in the Thousand and one Nights (Clair). From a description quoted by Guazzo, it is clear that coriander seeds were sometimes an ingredient of malevolent witch charms. But in North Africa, it is used to drive away evil spirits, and also as a charm against the evil eye. People in Morocco fumigate themselves with coriander seed as a protection against the evil juun. It is also hung under the roof of a house haunted by juun (Westermarck). The leaves, though, were supposed to cure forgetful-ness (Legey). The Chinese have a legend that says it

Dandruff

PARSLEY makes a good lotion for getting rid of dandruff, and helps to stave off baldness (A W Hatfield). The Wiltshire remedy was to massage the scalp with a NETTLE infusion each day (Wiltshire) (see also Baldness). An American domestic remedy for the condition is to use a lotion made of one part APPLE juice to three parts of water (H M Hyatt). Evelyn favoured a MYRTLE decoction for dandruff, and also for dyeing the hair black. Not only that, but it keepeth them from shedding . Gerard reported thet the juyce of the decoction (of FENUGREEK) pressed forth doth clense the haire, taketh away dandruffe , and the meale , presumably the paste or porridge made from the seeds, he reports as being good to wash the head ., for it taketh away the scarfe, scales, nits, and all other imperfections .

Sowbread

Friend claimed that cyclamen was used as a charm against bad weather, though in some parts of America it was not a favourite to keep indoors anyone who did so would get chills, so it was said (Hyatt). But it certainly enjoyed a reputation as an aphrodisiac, unlikely as that sounds, from ancient times. In fact, it became the very symbol of voluptuousness (Haig). According to Gerard, the root should be beaten and made up into trochisches, or little flat cakes , when it is reported to be a good amorous medicine to make one in love, if it be inwardly taken . Another opinion was that it should be burned and the ashes marinated in wine and formed into little balls which could then be concealed in soups or stews (Haining). Expectant mothers should avoid it, especially stepping over it (Friend). Gerard fenced his cyclamens in for this very reason. Midwives, by the same extended logic, regarded it as invaluable, for old herbals advised women in labour to hang the root around their neck to...

Turmeric

Perhaps the most recognisable use of turmeric (in Britain) is as a colouring agent for food. Curry powders contain it, as well as ginger and fenugreek, but it is the turmeric that accounts for the distinctive colour (H G Baker), so much so that the plant is often called Curry (Schauenberg & Paris). Pickles used to be coloured that way (Clair), and probably still are. Because the preparation of the yellow dye is lengthy, the powder was quite valuable, and in some Pacific areas it was used as a unit of currency right up to the 1940's. The value of anything was expressed as so many taik cakes, taik being the name of the powder (Einzig).

Carbuncle

(Elettaria cardamomum) An ingredient of curry powder, and a seasoning in many kinds of sausage (Schery), and a flavouring agent in many medicines (Soforowa). The seeds are sometimes burned, too, to produce an incenselike atmosphere (Valiente). In the Near East, coffee was blended with cardamom by the 16th century, and by the 17th the practice had reached Italy. It seems it still survives in Saudi Arabia. It is suggested that the reason was that cardamom was famous as an aphrodisiac. So mixing it with coffee would eliminate the bad effects of drinking the latter (Swahn).

Hogweed

It has its medicinal uses it has been shown to affect blood pressure, and the juice was used in East Anglia to cure warts (V G Hatfield. 1994). It has also, so it is claimed, been shown to have a distinct aphrodisiac effect (Schauenberg & Paris). Gerard reckoned the seed scoureth out flegmaticke matter through the guts, it healeth the jaundice, the falling sickness, the strangling of the mother, and them that are short winded

Common spices

Curry powder is a mixture of spices that may contain coriander, cumin, pepper, chili peppers, ginger, fenugreek, onion, cinnamon, paprika, saffron, cilantro, or turmeric. Ingredients may depend on the area of the world in which the curry was mixed. Fenugreek Seeds Ground from the seeds of a plant belonging to the pea family, fenugreek has a bittersweet flavor but leaves a caramel or maplelike aftertaste. A component in many Indian dishes, fenugreek also can be added to curry powders. Or, it may be used to flavor artificial maple syrups. Use sparingly the flavor of fenugreek can be overpowering.

Sexuality

Since antiquity, history and literature are replete with references to the waning of male virility, in all its ambiguities, with age. The seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of remedies to stave it off testifies to the ubiquity of this human fixation. In particular, the decline in male sexuality in old age, being both emblematic and problematic, it is not surprising that aphrodisiacs are among the most ancient and ubiquitous of folk remedies. The modern educated layman, however, having lost faith in rhino horn and tiger penis, appears now bedazzled by the misty allure of hormones, the contemporary folkloric embodiment of the fabled aphrodisiac. And for hormones, our social organization dictates that doctors remain its monopolistic dispensers.

Ginseng

The true ginseng, from northern China, is now rare because of the extensive use of the root in Chinese medicine. The forked root was treated like the human form (like mandrake, in fact it would seem that the whole of the mandrake legend spread to China, and became attached to ginseng) (G E Smith) (see MANDRAKE). It was used as a universal panacea indeed Panax, the name of the genus, has the same derivation as panacea, i.e., heal-all (W A R Thompson. 1976). The name All-heal is even recorded in English (Hal-liwell). Ginseng, the name, is Chinese Jin-chen, which means man-like (W A R Thompson. 1976), and it was because of this supposed resemblance that the doctrine of signatures worked, that is to say that the plant healed all parts of the body. The more closely the root resembled the human form, the more valuable it was considered, and well-formed roots were worth their weight in gold (Schery) - as an aphrodisiac (Simons). It was the Dutch who brought the root to Europe, in 1610, and...

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