WHAT IS APHRODISIAC?
An aphrodisiac is an agent (food or drug) that arouses sexual desire. The hunt for natural supplement from medicinal plants is being intensified mainly because of its fewer side effects. In this review, we have mentioned the pharmacologically tested (either in man or animal or in both) aphrodisiac plants, which have claimed for its uses.
An aphrodisiac is defined as any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces veneral desire and increases pleasure and performance. A lot of natural substances have historically been known as aphrodisiacs in Africa and Europe, like yohimbine and the mandrake plant, as well as ground rhinoceros horn in the Chinese culture and “Spanish fly” which is actually toxic. Even in today's culture, there are certain foods that are used as aphrodisiacs, including strawberries and raw oysters. Chocolate, coffee, and honey are also believed to have aphrodisiac potential. Although these natural items are claimed as aphrodisiacs, there is no or little scientific confirmation supporting those assertions.
Aphrodisiacs can be classified by their mode of action into three types: Those that increase libido, potency, or sexual pleasure. Various substances of animal and plant origin have been used in folk medicines of different cultures to energize, vitalize and improve sexual function, and physical performance in men, out of these very few have been identified pharmacologically.
· For increasing libido, ambrein, a major constituent of Ambra grisea, is used in Arab countries. It contains a tricyclic triterpene alcohol which increases the concentration of several anterior pituitary hormones and serum testosterone.
· Bufo toad skin and glands contain bufotenine (and other bufadienolides), a hallucinogenic congener of serotonin. It is the active ingredient in West Indian “love stone” and the Chinese medication chan su.
· In traditional Chinese medicine, Panax ginseng is used as a sex stimulant. It works as an antioxidant by enhancing nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in the endothelium of corpora cavernosa (CC); ginsenosides also cause transmural nerve stimulation-activated relaxation associated with increased tissue cyclic guanosine monophosphate.
· For increasing sexual pleasure, cantharidin (“Spanish fly”) from blister beetles, which have been used for millennia as a sexual stimulant.
According to Ayurveda, some herbs have been traditionally used as Vajikaran Rasayana herbs because of their putative positive influence on sexual performance in humans.