Plants are the original masters of attraction. Over millions of years, they have evolved the most irresistible blossoms and intoxicating aromas to captivate and lure in pollinators ~ bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other creatures who are absolutely vital to their reproduction and species survival.

And like many plant constituents, these highly specialized attracting molecules can work their magic on us in a myriad of ways. By affecting our emotional, mental and physiological state, herbs exert aphrodisiac & amorous affects on us, enhancing our capacity for intimacy with ourselves and others.

While there are plenty of well known aphrodisiac herbs, their affects widely differ based on personal preference. For example, a person who adores the scent of Patchouli and links the aroma to exciting memories is much more likely to succumb to its aphrodisiac influence than someone who detests the scent, or even finds it neutral. The point is to lean into botanicals that you are naturally drawn and attracted to. With that said, most herbal aphrodisiacs fall into a few key categories.

Types of Herbal Aphrodisiacs

Plants that are hot natured or spicy create a feeling of warmth within us by dilating the blood vessels to encourage peripheral circulation. Similarly, blood moving, circulatory stimulating & cardiotonic herbs all exhibit a similar affect by opening the vessels and improving blood flow. Ginger & Cinnamon are hot natured, while Chiles are spicy and Rosemary is a potent circulatory herb.

Calming & grounding herbs can help free us of mental overwhelm that inhibits arousal. Nervines like Lavender, Vanilla & Kava relax the nervous system to encourage a feeling of calm. Grounding aromas such as Sandalwood, Cedarwood & Patchouli lend a sensation of rootedness to quell an overthinking mind and create space for us to reconnect with our body.

Aromatic stimulants & intoxicants are self evident both in description and in their effect: they entice and energize our senses, enabling enhanced feelings of bliss and even ecstasy. The aroma of night blooming flowers are, in my opinion, the best example of this ~ they emit a heady and powerful odor that can be smelled from far distances and possess a uniquely enrapturing quality that leaves you feeling slightly drunk and overstimulated but wanting more. Night Blooming Jasmine and Dragon Fruit Flower are absolutely intoxicating after the sun sets (to attract their evening prey: nighttime pollinators in the form of moths and bats); Jasmine & Pikake are more subtle but just as sweetly alluring.

Herbs that are classified as tonic or adaptogenic work in various ways to strengthen our overall health and vitality. They may improve energy by stimulating the nervous system like Cacao, or fortifying our blood, like Ginseng. Lubricating herbs like Ashwaganda or Chia help to nourish dry tissues and replenishing reproductive fluids. They may also warm & augment our Kidneys, the house of reproductive energy & longevity (known as our Jing essence); true Cinnamon is considered a tonic in this way.

Amorous Botanicals

Jasmine

The enrapturing aroma of Jasmine requires no explanation: her heady scent is so perfectly evolved to lure pollinators that it draws us in, especially as the sun begins to set. Whether we're referring to Pikake {Jasminum sambac}, Arabian Jasmine {Jasminum grandiflorum}, or Night Blooming Jasmine {Cestrum nocturnum}, not a true Jasmine but close enough to share her name), the aroma can reawaken passion, enhance sexual interest, and encourage confidence to alleviate feelings of inadequacy or undesirability. The night bloomers in this category offer a particularly intoxicating & ravishing scent, designed to transfix pollinators who work after dark. 

Enjoy Jasmine in the stimulating format of Jasmine green tea, purchase the dry flowers and steep them in hot water for a caffeine free beverage, or anoint yourself in our Moon All Over Oil for an immersive Jasmine experience.

Rose

Is it any wonder that the Rose {Rosa damascena & spp.} has been emphatically adored across cultures & borders throughout all of known history? This visually captivating and blissfully aromatic flower has become an archetype for love and the human heart ~ every thorn on its stem is there to protect the delicate beauty that rests upon it, just as our intuitions & emotions ensure that only those deserving have access to our affection. Rose encourages us to be discerning in our intimate relationships, and inspires passion within oneself. She invites us to find beauty and divinity within ourselves, and to only embrace love that is worthy of us. 

Enjoy Rose in food, medicine & beauty. Make your own Rose infused vinegar (recipe video here & ways to use it here), incorporate Rosewater (pure distilled hydrosol; make sure it does not contain fragrance) into your food or add the powdered petals into our drink recipe below.


Vanilla

The inviting scent of Vanilla {Vanilla planifolia} can evoke nostalgic feelings of warmth and comfort in small doses, but in her pure form she reveals herself to be a powerful aromatic stimulant that can captivate and enchant the senses. Her ambrosial sweetness invites a yearning and lust for more, as her concentrated essence is tempered by the close proximity required to experience her subtle emanations. As a nervine, Vanilla also possesses the ability to calm the nervous system and relax the mind, encouraging feelings of happiness.

Add whole Vanilla beans or Vanilla extract to your desserts & baked goods, or use a dash in our Ambrosial Cacao Elixir below. Benefit from Vanilla's calming nature in our Seven Seeds Balm, or experience the power of her aroma and make your lips extra kissable with Cinnamon Vanilla Lip Oil.

Cacao

This ubiquitous medicine was traditionally considered an ambrosia ~ a plant so divine, it is food for the gods. Cultivated & revered for ritual & ceremonial use in Central America for thousands of years, the fermented seed pod has long been enjoyed as a stimulating & euphoric beverage. Cacao {Theobroma cacao} contains unique phytochemicals (such as theobromine & anandamide) that may activate our own endogenous neurotransmitters to elicit an elevated mood, and even incite feelings of bliss & ecstasy. 

To indulge in Cacao, seek out dark chocolate bars that have a high Cacao content (70%+) and are free of lecithin and flavors. Be sure to buy raw Cacao powder instead of Cocoa powder for consumption, which has been processed to remove many of the beneficial nutrients. Enjoy Cacao in our drinkable elixir below.

Cinnamon

This sweet and hot-natured herb helps to fortify our overall vitality, and is especially useful for people who often feel cold. In traditional Chinese medicine, True Cinnamon {Cinnamomom verum} is said to fortify our Gate of Life ~ an energetic metabolism rooted in the Kidneys that is the source of our sexual potency. As an important Yang tonic, Cinnamon fuels the fire within us to be active and vibrant and has a special affinity for strengthening the back. 

Add any kind of Cinnamon powder to your food and drinks to improve circulation & strengthen sexual stamina. Try the Ambrosial Cacao Elixir below or Cinnamon Vanilla Lip Oil infused with Big Island true Cinnamon. 

Ginger

A close second to Cinnamon in her warming nature, Ginger {Zingiber officinale} is a hot, pungent herb that improves circulation and warms the channels. Ginger strengthens the heart to encourage blood flow throughout the body, and helps to fortify our sexual drive and energy. Particularly useful for those with cold hands & feet, this herb can ignite our willpower to facilitate activity and get things flowing.

Slice up fresh rhizomes or incorporate the powder into your cooking. Sip on Ginger tea or rub on our Blue Moon Balm to warm the body. You can also enjoy Ginger in our decadent drink below. 

Ambrosial Cacao Elixir

Ambrosial Cacao Elixir

This delicious drink is a favorite of mine, especially on cooler days to warm the body and indulge the senses. Use whichever spices you have on hand (feel free to add Cardamom, Clove, Turmeric etc.) and adjust to your personal preference. I typically drink it unsweetened, but add a bit of sweetener for a more indulgent elixir.
  • Cacao powder - 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Ginger powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Rose powder - 1/4 tsp
  • A pinch of Vanilla powder or a dash of extract 
  • Coconut milk or milk of choice - 1 tbsp
  • Date syrup or honey - 1-2 tsp, to taste
Mix all powders in a mug. Add a couple spoonfuls of just-boiled water and blend to form a smooth paste. Slowly mix in a cup of hot water a bit at a time, stirring as you go. Add Vanilla extract if using, milk of choice and sweetener to taste. Stir, sip & savor.

This article was informed & inspired by:
• Aromatherapy with Chinese Medicine by Dennis Willmont 
• Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey & Erich Stöger 
• The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants by Christian Rätsch