Consumer Health: Is chocolate a natural aphrodisiac?

a collage of chocolate – pudding cake, drizzled on strawberries, and ice cream

Many people would say chocolate is delicious and satisfying. But its power as a natural aphrodisiac is less clear.

Certain foods and supplements, such as chocolate, spicy food and saw palmetto, sometimes are claimed to affect libido. Research, though, has shown them to be largely ineffective at producing a sexual response in either men or women. Some preliminary evidence is slightly more encouraging for a few natural supplements, such as ginkgo, ginseng, maca and tribulus, but more research is needed.

There are some things to consider before using any product touted for its aphrodisiac properties. Ginkgo, ginseng and saw palmetto can cause life-threatening interactions with medications used to treat cardiovascular disease. Some products marketed as natural aphrodisiacs have been found to contain prescription drug ingredients that aren’t disclosed on the label and can be dangerous if you have certain medical conditions or take certain medications. Some products contain insect or plant extracts that can be toxic. 

Learn more about natural aphrodisiacs from Dr. Brent Bauer, director of Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program.

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