Love Potions

Happy Valentine's Day to all! Today we're going to talk about aphrodisiacs. These concoctions have been around since...well, probably since the beginning of time. As long as men have walked the earth, I'm sure they were out there looking for potions to put a little extra something into their sex lives. Today, there are all sorts of pills and lotions out there to get things going, and then to keep them going (sometimes for hours...damn you, Viagra!) Most of the alternatives available today employ the same basic theories that we acupuncturists use today for sexual difficulties: namely, moving the blood (Viagra, Cialis, etc) and increasing heat (gels and oils that heat up when applied.) Our Chinese techniques for moving the blood and boosting heat in the genital area may be more subtle than popping Viagra, but they do work.

In Chinese medicine, diet is often promoted as the first line of defense against illness. TCM doctors say that food is medicine. A healthy diet will keep you in optimal health, but that is only the beginning. You have a veritable drugstore in your cabinets right now, and if you want to pump up your libido, you should start here.

Most people have heard of chocolate being used as an aphrodisiac, but munching on 5 or 6 Nestle's bars won't do much. Stick with dark chocolate, the higher the cacao content, the better. You want the actual chocolate here, not the sugar.

Garlic and pepper both add heat to the system, which will rev up your sex drive. Be sure to brush well (or chew some parsley) after partaking, however-or you will be left to your own devices after dining.

Oysters are another popular aphrodisiacs, but the Chinese say that they must be consumed raw for the desired effect. Years ago, people would judge a food's effects by its appearance: walnuts look like brains, so they were considered good food to nourish the brain. I'll give you a moment to consider the appearance of an oyster. That being said, the oyster also contains lots of stuff that is good for prostate health, including zinc. Raw pumpkin seeds are also good for prostate health, and Chinese docs recommend a few ounces every day to protect against prostate cancer.

Other herbs and spices that increase libido are cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron. Again, think hot: if a food makes you sweat or tingle, those properties are likely effective in getting your tingling all over.

In "The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity," Daniel Reid promotes a concoction called "Spring Wine" that is supposed to boost health and increase the libido when taken directly prior to intercourse. It should be taken on an empty stomach, and never when you are feeling weak or ill. It also shouldn't be taken on hot or humid days. If any of you out there are brave and bored enough to create this potion, and then to try it out, please email me and let me know how it works out for you. Here is the recipe*:

60 grams of deerhorn shavings 60 grams of deerhorn resin 60 grams of resin made from the hides of wild black donkeys 60 grams of resin from tortoise shells 60 grams of Horny Goat Weed 60 grams of Rehmannia rhizome 30 grams of Astragalus root 25 grams of Angelica root 25 grams of Eucommia bark 25 grams of Chinese wolfberry 25 grams of Japanese wax-privet seeds 25 grams of Cynomorium stems 25 grams of dried human placenta 15 grams of Korean ginseng root 15 grams of Raspberry seeds 2 sea horses 1 male red-spotted lizard 1 female red-spotted lizard

Pour all ingredients in an 8-10 liter glass or ceramic vat. Pour in 6 liters of brandy, rum, or vodka. Seal and let steep for 3-6 months. Shake it occasionally to blend the ingredients. After three to six months, pour out half the brew and strain it into clean bottles through a funnel lined with gauze or cheesecloth. Add 3 more liters of fresh alcohol to the remaining brew. Reseal the vat and let it steep for another 3-6 months. After the final straining, put all the solid ingredients into a large collander,set it over a big bowl, and place a heavy rock or weight on top of it to squeeze out the residual liquor (this is the most potent portion). You should get 9 bottles out of this brew. Sweeten each bottle with rock sugar or honey and shake well. You can take 1 1/2 ounces of this potion during the spring and autumn and on mild summer days. In the cold months, the dose is 2-3 ounces a day.

*Disclaimer: I did not invent this recipe, I am merely passing it on from a well-known book of Chinese medicine. If you drink this and it kills you/gives you diarrhea/makes your tongue fall out, I cannot be held responsible.