Amy Richardson Novack
Everyone loves a good love story, and everyone loves to talk about love, lust and passion!
There are so many great books, and songs about love, and ways to get in the mood....essential oils as aphrodisiacs? Absolutely!!! Essential oils can help us increase our passion and help us get over hang ups and worries we may have in this area of our lives.
What is an aphrodisiac? It's definition is simple-something that increases or stimulates sexual desire. The name aphrodisiac comes from the Greek goddess Aphrodite-the goddess of love, pleasure, fertility and sacred arts-including perfumes. She is often seen with Myrtle (not known as an aphrodisiac) and roses (which is an aphrodisiac).
Sensuality comes to us in many forms...from a sensual meal, a beautiful poem or song-the atmosphere can make all the difference. Sensuality truly is being in touch with our senses. Essential oils can touch us on all our senses. We can diffuse them in the air, hitting our brain before we can even name the scent we are smelling-evoking memories and moods as they reach our limbic brain. We can use them in our baths, and in massage oils, and some say in our cooking.
But how does this work? Essential oils work on our bodies, minds and spirits in many ways. Starting with the mind we see how quickly aromas can affect us. It is often our first impression of a situation-think of walking into a restaurant, and you begin to get hungry as you smell the expertly prepared food, or walking by a florist and feeling happy with all the lovely smells. Or in the case of finding a suitable partner-scents are exchanged and reacted to before we even speak, “in the time it takes to shake hands, two strangers have already made sensory decisions about each other that will determine whether or not they choose to commit themselves to the process of “olfactory bonding”, now recognized by scientists as the glue that holds deep human relationships together, including family ties, friendships, and romantic alliances” (Fellner 8). Think of wearing a beau’s t-shirt-the memory of your times together and the comfort, or an infant being able to recognize mom’s smell.
It has been shown that women have a more complex sense of smell than most men. And Mother Nature has provided us with scent cues as to our readiness to be with someone. At the time of ovulation we women give off a scent which men find appealing and in turn his body is stimulated to produce an odor that has an aphrodisiac effect on us. “Apocrine glands located on the face, around the nipples and navel, under the arms, and in the genitals of both sexes are believed to release a particular aroma during arousal that indicates sexual readiness….we don’t guess at a state of mutual attraction, we literally smell it” (Fellner 7). So we are programmed by nature to be ready for scent cues to enhance our togetherness.
But how does our brain work to pick up on smells? Our sense of smell was one of the earliest to develop, and it is connected to our more ancient part of our brain-the limbic system. Smells give us more information than any other of our senses, act more quickly on our subconscious, evoke memories, and go directly to our limbic system, bypassing the cerebral cortex (our logical part of our brain), the other senses have to go through that area first, so you see why these aromas, and there by essential oils can have such a strong, subconscious and emotional reaction. We also cannot avoid scents. We can close our ears and eyes to violent images, but we are always breathing, and therefore smelling the world around us. Tara Fellner, in her book Aromatherapy for Lovers tell us that smell is incredibly important to sexual function “To illustrate the importance of olfactory function to sexuality, animals and people both lacking a sense of smell tend to have sexual dysfunctions as well, such as underdeveloped reproductive organs and lack of sexual response. Those who lose their sense of smell in the course of life also suffer from diminished libido and hormonal disturbances.” (8)
Essential oils also work on our nervous system, helping us to relax, or livening us up! Both of these are helpful in our search for the perfect erotic adventure. We need to be able to relax, let go, but still get heated up!
So besides straight smell, how do these “teardrops of nature” (as one yoga teacher I know affectionately calls essential oils) work on our bodies to illicit an aphrodisiac response?
Some such as clary sage (Salvia sclarea) assist us to relax us and lower inhibitions and help us get over anxiety which can really kill the libido.
Oils can help us with hormonal balances too. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) fall into this category.
Others help us to balance the male and female energies, boost our confidence and let go of anger like Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata). Ylang Ylang also helps to balance our heartbeats. It help to promote self-confidence and increase our sexual energy! These flowers are traditionally sprinkled on newlyweds bed in Indonesia-to to help balance the male and female energies and to ease any wedding night jitters. Now this base note is used often in cosmetics (Dechen, p.100). Ylang Ylang according to Valerie Ann Worwood is like an exotic friend who mixed well with others!
Other invoke memories…this can be used in the field of aphrodisiacs to bring back a memory of a loving night, and embrace. Author Valerie Ann Worwood in her book Scents & Scentuality tells of a man that was worried about his girlfriend and all her travels and forgetting about him. Her advice was to send her off with an essential oil blend they had used. It invoked the fond memory of him so completely that she called him all the time, often saying she didn’t even realize why she was calling!
There are some oils that are just known for their love enhancing abilities-rose, narcissus and jasmine come to mind (Rosa damascene, Rosa centifloia, Narcissus poeticus and Jasminum officinale). Some of this comes from our shared cultural stories, but there is chemistry behind this. Rose, loved by all, and sacred to Venus and the Virgin Mary, helps to increase sexual response in both men and women. Rose is also a phytoestrogen, and helps to lower blood pressure and anxiety and helps with frigidity and impotence and my favorite- helps to mend broken trusts-to me that speaks volumes of how this amazing flower and essence can help in the department of love and lovemaking. So many people have been broken hearted, this oil can help mend that, and in turn help us learn to love again!
Narcissus (Narcisussu poeticus) The story of Narcissus alone evokes love-the young Greek who fell so in love with his own reflection that the Gods turned him into a flower – the flower’s fragrance lured Persephone to the underworld. This oil can be used to “attract the attention of a new love, or to pique the wandering attention of an existing lover.” (Fellner 120) This is hard to find as an oil-easier as a hydrosol.
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) Tara Fellner calls it the Sexiest flower on Earth! Valerie Ann Worwood calls it the “Empress” of oils. She says it is the oil that brings out the seductress in you! Jasmine is the oil that relates to you, brings out the feminity in you and is like having a soul searching chat with a dear friend. The jasmine flower is also one of the flowers in Kama Deva’s arrows of love (the Hindu cupid-he has 5 flowers as the points of his arrows-thought to represent the 5 stages of desire). Fellner cites “Roy Genders, [who says] the aroma of white jasmine can transform a woman into a nymphomaniac”! This lovely scent of the jasmine flower is most pronounced at dawn and is said to bring about happy euphoria! This is an ever important oil to have in your aphrodisiac armory! Expensive, but oh so worth it! Steam distilled from the flowers that are harvested at their peak of aromatic goodness it takes about 10,000 pounds of flowers to make a pound of oil!
Many of the plants of the Lauraceae family are thought to be aphrodisiacs: they help with depression, headaches and sexual disabilities (sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads, it is hard to be interested in sex if you are feeling depressed, or if you are worried about performance…with these oils, we can move past those feelings) these include cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), ravensara (Ravensara aromatic) and howood (Aniba rosaeodora).
In Thomacine Haywood’s book Aromatherapy for Lovers she takes us back to the song “Love potion #9” with her list of the 9 top aphrodisiac oils:
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) which increases blood flow, and a sexual stimulant (mentioned above). This was even mentioned in the bible “I have perfumed my bed with Myrrh, aloes and Cinnamon- proverbs 7:17 (Haywood 104)
Carly Sage (Salvia sclarea) –discussed above
Ginger (Zingiber officinale )- “Ginger was actually called “burning desire” by the Persian upper class who mixed it with honey for an early form of Viagra” (Haywood 123). This oil gives us strength and energy and Haywood tells us that women in West Africa weave belts of ginger to restore the sexual potency of their mates!
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) –discussed above
Neroli (Citrus aurantium )- this oil influences confidence, gives us joy and helps us attain peace allowing in the sensuality.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin )- this oil is very grounding and helps to calm us and reduce our anxiety, and has a particular effect on us sexually. (On a personal note this is the smell my husband loves most and wears-just as the stories discussed before-the scent of patchouli always makes me feel safe, loved and happy thinking of my sweetie.)
Sandalwood (Santalum Album) –this oil has been shown to stimulate the limbic system, which also happens to be our emotional and pleasure center in our brain, and the pineal gland (which is related to the 6th chakra-our center for intuition! It has been said that our sense of smell can be related to intuition since we make decisions based on the aromatic cues around us! And in energy medicine our senses are controlled by this chakra.) It evokes deep relaxation and helps to remove negative programming in our cells. Again, oils helping us to let go of old stuff, stuff that could get in the way of our enjoying our time with our loved ones, oils helping to heal our hearts!
And last on her list of 9 top aphrodisiac oils is Ylang Ylang (Cananga ordorata ) whose properties were discussed above.
No discussion of essential oils and their uses would be complete with out a discussion about some oils that have associated precautions. Working with the few oils that we touched on be aware of the following:
Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) –do not use this oil in a preparation for a bath or if there is cancer present.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)- do not use in the bath, or with kids under 5, or during pregnancy.
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) – this is a phytoestrogen so do not use while pregnant, if there is a history of estrogen dependent cancer, with low blood pressure, or while drinking alcohol-it will intensify the effects and give you horrible nightmares!
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)- do not use for longer than 10 days, or if pregnant, and it needs to be diluted because it can cause skin irritation. This is also an oil not to use if estrogen dependent cancer present.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) - do not use if you are using anti-coagulant medications.
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)- do not use with kids under 5, or while pregnant, or if estrogen dependent cancer is present.
Avoid Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) - when working towards an aphrodisiac, it will help to lower the libido.
Rose (Rosa damascena)- as stated above: a phytoestrogen. Do not use in pregnancy except very sparingly in third trimester, or with kids under 14, or if estrogen dependent cancer is present.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)-may be sensitive to the skin, so please dilute it. It may also cause headaches with over use and needs to be avoided with low pressure.
In conclusion? Yes, essential oils can help us with our relationships and act as aphrodisiacs. From setting the mood, to helping us ease our fears and past sadness's to increasing our blood pressure to excited heights. Essential oils can, in truth, benefit all aspects of our lives, and this is a really nice place to work with them. Have fun, start with the following recipes if they appeal to you and heed the precautions above.
Some recipes to get you started in your exploration of aphrodisiac oils:
From Tara Fellner
Crème Jospehine: to keep your skin as lovely as the Empress
1-2 oz. coconut oil
10 drops jasmine (Jasminum officinale ) absolute
10 drops sandalwood ( Santalum Album)
Mix this and if super hot, keep in refrigerator and use as a crème perfume
Inspired by the secret bathing perfume used by the goddesses on Mount Olympus
3 drops of jasmine (Jasminum officinale)
3 drops of rose (Rosa damascena)
3 drops of neroli ( Citrus aurantium)
3 drops of sandalwood (Santalum Album)
Share in a warm comforting bath with your beloved!
From Valerie Ann Worwood
A synergistic blend for your partner
5 drops clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
5 drops rose maroc (Rosa damascena)
5 drops sandalwood (Santalum Album)
Put 4 drops of this concentrate into 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil….to help with sexual performance for the man add 1 drop of ginger to the blend!
Use as a massage oil. Concentrating on the lower back and buttocks and lower belly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphrodite (photo at the beginning of paper of our goddess Aphrodite)
Dechen, Shanti. Clinical Aromatherapy Level 1, Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy, 2014.
Haywood, Thomacine. Aromatherapy for Lovers: Aphrodisiac Properties of Essential Oils. Restore Publishing for Kindle. 2011
Fellner, Tara. Aromatherapy for Lovers: Essential Recipes for Romance. Boston: Journey Editions, 2001. Print.
Worwood, Valerie Ann. Scents& Scentuality. Novato,CA: New World Library, 1999. Print.