Saturday, August 30, 2008

Guide to Aphrodisiacs: Indian Aphrodisiacs

In a country which has reached a population of almost 1 billion there must be an extensive knowledge of what might stimulate reproductive behaviour. In the following some recommendations from Ayurvedic medicine as well as from modern Indian herbalists have been brought together. Another source of Indian aphrodisiacs is the Kama Sutra, reviewed in our Kama Sutra Aphrodisiacs post.


Ajwain or Bishop's Weed (Trachyspermum ammi of the Umbelliferae family) is a shrub, occurring from Egypt to India, which has been used for medical purposes for several thousand years. The seeds are rich in thymol and are considered an effective aphrodisiac. They should be crushed and fried in ghee (clarified butter), normal butter or olive oil together with an equal quantity of crushed kernels of tamarind seeds. A teaspon of this fried product, taken together with honey and milk before retiring, increases virility and cures premature ejaculation, according to traditional Indian herbal medicine.


Arjuna, Terminalia arjuna, is a tree found in India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. A decoction of the powdered white bark with milk is alleged to be an effective sex stimulant if taken regularly over a period of time. Further uses suggested in Ayurvedic medicine include treatment of asthma and heart disorders.


The leaves of the Indian tree Butea monosperma, "Flame of the forest", have been used in Indian herbal medicine as an aphrodisiac and to stop bleeding and diarrhea.

However, be careful! An infusion of the leaves is also said to lower the amount of blood sugar, which could have detrimental effects.


Castus, Saussurea lappa (Compositae), also known in Chinese herbal medicine as mu xiang, occurs, inter alia, in Kashmir at an altitude of 2500-4000 metres above the sea level. The root of the plant is well-known in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac. It contains an essential oil which is partly excreted in the urine. During the passage of the urine through the urethra the presence of the oil causes considerable irritation, which can give rise to a somewhat painful erection. This mechanism is reminescent of the effect of the Spanish fly.


Hydrophilia, Asteracanthus longifolia (=Hydrophilia spinosa) of the Acathaceae family is a stout, rough, thorny annual plant occurring in swamps in India and Pakistan. The seeds, the dried plant and the roots are used as a popular aphrodisiac (which part depends on the region).

Fifty grammes of the root boiled with one litre of water until the volume has been reduced to half a litre will provide a tonic of which three tablespoons should be taken daily for optimal effects.

Indian aloe

Indian aloe, Aloe barbedensis of the Liliaceae family, is a 50 - 80 centimeter high plant with long, fleshy leaves and small yellow or orange flowers. The leaves are believed to be a useful aphrodisiac, but the skin must be removed before administration.

If the procurement of fresh leaves is difficult, also the dried leave juice can be used. It is known as elio and normally taken in doses of around 0.1 grammes.

Indian Liquorice

Indian liquorice is a common name of the root of Abrus precatorius. However, it is the seeds, sometimes known as jequirity, that are believed to be an aphrodisiac. Be careful! They contain the extremely toxic polypeptide abrin, as toxic as ricin. Five crushed seeds have been a lethal dose for young persons.

During the early 20th Century, the seeds were used in India to poison English cavallery horses. The normal use of the seeds is for ornamental purposes, e.g. in necklaces.

Indian Mallow

Indian mallow, Abutilon indicum of the Malvaceae family, has seeds, which are believed to be both an aphrodisiac and a laxative, for me a rather strange combination of properties.

Furthermore, the leaves of the same plant have been used against diarrhoea as well as against gonorrhoea and bladder inflammations.


All parts of the shrub Withania somnifera, known as Winter Cherry or Kuthimithi or under its sanskrit name Ashwagandha, are said to promote libido, the root being most potent. A traditional Indian recipe calls for two to four grams of the powdered root to be taken together with milk.

The plant belongs to the potato family, Solanaceae, but contains relatively little of tropane alkaloids. However, somniferine is present, an alkaloid which can induce sleep if taken in sufficient quantity.

For other examples of Indian use of herbs and spices as aphrodisiacs, see, e.g.: Arjuna , Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper

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