By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
If loving starts in the kitchen, pull cayenne, ginger and lavender from the pantry turntable. These herbs will fire up your libido. Just ask Helen Yoest, author of Plants with Benefits (St. Lynn’s Press, 2014, $17.95).
From the cover, the book appears to be Great Aunt Sara’s kitchen guide. Inside, it’s 146 pages about botanical aphrodisiacs. Yoest is comprehensive in her presentation of history, myth, cultivation tips and the science of arousal. The book is tasteful and titillating, not to mention lavishly and lushly illustrated.
Let’s start with cayenne. Yoest writes:
“There is little to support that cayenne has any properties in large enough quantities to make it a medically sought-after aphrodisiac …[however, its] considered a warming herb because its effects mimic our body’s sexual stimulation responses. The increased heart rate and dilated blood vessels improve blood flow …”
Now, ginger. Let’s just say it’s a fertility agent and let you read Yoest’s book. She’s scientific and tasteful, but I don’t want to disrespect the sensitive.
Finally, the perennial favorite, lavender. Everyone knows it relieves stress and promotes sleep. But, it’s also an aphrodisiac. To quote Yoest’s book:
A study conducted by the Smell & Taste Treatment Research Foundation in Chicago exposed men to a variety of food aromas and then graded the level of their sexual arousal by measuring the blood flow to their genitals. Lavender (in combination with pumpkin) measured a 40% increase in blood flow.
Cheese pizza logged a 5% increase, while buttered popcorn came in at 9%.
Seriously, who combines lavender and pumpkin? And, who thinks up these measurements?!
Gift your Valentine Plants with Benefits and a basket of prescribed goodies. Then, relax and celebrate your companionship.
Helen Yoest is a gardener and writer from Raleigh, N.C.