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Can the popular belief about some food items acting as aphrodisiacs be verified? The wikipedia article states that

However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the alleged results may have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (i.e., the placebo effect). In particular, Western medical science has no substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance.

However, the supporting link is dead. Interested in some studies proving/disproving the claim.

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    Some simple chemicals clearly work, at least in men: Viagra (sildenafil citrate) being the best known. So it isn't totally impossible to imagine that a food does. – matt_black Nov 26 '12 at 23:36
  • Well. Let's look at the anology. Some chemicals (MDMA) have certain effects, and while it isn't totally impossible to imagine food with same effects, the existence of MDMA does not imply existence of such food. Interesting viewpoint, though, @matt_black - thank you. – David Tarandek Nov 27 '12 at 0:10
  • @matt: My initial thought was that this question wasn't nearly as interesting as it was pre-1998 and blue pills. However, the Wikipedia article explicitly exclude Viagra and Levitra from their definition of aphrodisiac because "they do not have any direct effect on the libido". I'm not sure I like the definition, but if that is the one we are using... – Oddthinking Nov 27 '12 at 2:34
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    @Oddthinking - I am searching for food items with aphrodisiac properties – David Tarandek Nov 28 '12 at 9:47
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    If it were true, every man would be an expert cook of said item. How would it have stayed secret considering the survival value? – Tim Quinn Jan 30 '13 at 7:43
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It appears that the research on the subject is still quite active, and pretty much inconclusive.

For example, I present the case of the studies regarding the Tribulus terrestris :

Aphrodisiac properties of Tribulus Terrestris extract (Protodioscin) in normal and castrated rats - K Gauthaman, P.G Adaikan, R.N.V Prasad - 9 August 2002

However, this study provides additional information as regards to androgens and its regulation of penile erection and that the plant Tribulus terrestris is found to exert similar properties to that of androgens. Results of this study provide evidence for the claimed role of this plant as an aphrodisiac in the traditional medicine.

The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men V.K. Neychev, V.I. Mitev - 3 October 2005

Altogether, the findings in the current study anticipate that chronic ingestion of either 10 or 20 mg/kg body weight of Tribulus terrestris extract influence neither directly nor indirectly androgen production in young males.

Aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in experimental models in rats Surender Singh, Y.K. Gupta - April 2011

Oral administration of 100 mg/kg of test drug has proven anabolic effect as evidenced by body weight gain in the body and reproductive organs. Improvement in sexual behavior of male rats was characterized by increased amount and intromission frequency.

In any case, the most comprehensive study I was able to find is

Pharmacologically screened aphrodisiac plant-A review of current scientific literature Patel DK, Kumar R, Prasad SK, Hemalatha S - 28 June 2011

which reviews the studies about 30+ plants a and concludes with :

Many of the plant materials showed positive aphrodisiac activities in animals. For the determination of the safety and effectiveness of these substances for sexual enhancement it is necessary to test pre-clinically in animals and clinically in human being before consuming the drug. Further studies are also needed to check the mechanism that underlie behind such activity

  • Interesting, I wonder if anyone has done any research to see if aphrodisiacs might also just be a culturally accepted placebo. – rjzii Jan 30 '13 at 13:11

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