Tag Archives: ginseng

Week 39: Aphrodisiac Cooking

oysters

 

Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and it’s time to think about how you’re going to celebrate with that special someone. Gifts are always nice, but why not prepare an aphrodisiac meal for them? Who knows where it will lead (wink, wink)?

Aphrodisiac recipes have been cooked up throughout the world for centuries. You may have heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac — but what about potatoes, skink flesh, and sparrow brains? These things were once considered aphrodisiacs, too. Almost everything edible was, at one time or another. Some foods thought to be aphrodisiacs resemble genitalia – oysters, bananas – you get the picture. Short of taking Viagra which has been shown to effectively treat erectile dysfunction, aphrodisiac foods are those which possess vitamins, minerals and chemicals which stimulate desire. In actuality, foods which boost energy, stimulate attraction, fertility and promote blood flow to all important regions are believed to be effective in increasing sexual performance and satisfaction.

Aphrodisiacs get their name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and sexuality. One account of her “birth” says she arose from the sea on a giant scallop, after Cronus castrated Uranus and tossed his severed genitals into the sea. Aphrodite then walked to the shore of Cyprus. Her name derives from aphros which means “foam” and refers to her as rising from the sea foam. She is always depicted nude and is often shown floating on a scallop shell.(In Roman mythology, Aphrodite is known as Venus, whose messenger is Cupid). In Ancient Greece during a festival to celebrate Aphrodite, participants were initiated into the Mysteries of Aphrodite and were given salt, a representation of Aphrodite’s connection to the sea, and bread baked in the shape of a phallus. The Aphrodisia festival is still held in Greece and Cyprus each year over a three day period in the summer.

Avocadoes

Plump and moist, these sensuous pear-shaped fruits resemble certain parts of the body. They contain vitamin E which helps your body churn out hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, which circulate in your bloodstream and stimulate sexual responses like clitoral swelling and vaginal lubrication.

Bananas

Bananas are high in potassium which delivers muscle strength, so in theory intensifies orgasms.That’s something powerful to think about when you wrap your lips around this phallus-shaped fruit.

Chilies

The chili pepper’s effect on the body has actual scientific backing, so there might be some truth to this one. Chili peppers contain capsaicin which can cause a physiological response – increased heart rate and metabolism, sometimes even sweating — that is quite similar to the physical reactions experienced during sex. Eating chili peppers also releases endorphins for that “feel good” sensation. Its bright red color is considered a symbol of love by many, and the shape is, well, self-explanatory.

Chocolate

Sinful and sweet, chocolate has been historically used in seduction rituals. Even Casanova was rumored to indulge in chocolate prior to a sexual rendezvous. Chocolate contains the chemicals anandamide and phenylethylamine, which boost serotonin levels – the chemical which occurs naturally in the body when someone is happy or feeling passionate. It also contains tryptophan, a brain chemical that yields serotonin, which is known to produce feelings of elation.

Ginseng

Some say ginseng is an aphrodisiac because it actually looks like the human body. (The word ginseng even means “man root.”) Studies have reported sexual response in animals which have been given ginseng, but there is no evidence to date of ginseng having any effect on humans.

Figs

Figs have for centuries been considered an aphrodisiac, and we’re not talking about Fig Newtons, but actual figs. If you’ve ever split a fig in half and checked out the inside, you’ll see why some have likened the pink fleshy insides to the female form. But aside from its appearance it does contain essential minerals and vitamins that could help kick things off in the sexual arena. The magnesium, potassium, and iron levels alone will help get you back online in these departments, and the Vitamin B-6 will give you energy to keep things going.

Maca

Nutty and sweet, maca is used in beverages, cookies and baked goods. This sweet root vegetable has been nicknamed Peruvian Viagra, and animal studies have indicated some aphrodisiac qualities, although this hasn’t been extensively tested on humans. It contains a steroid like chemical which is a precursor to sex hormones and is also thought to increase stamina and heighten awareness.

Oysters

The most famous of aphrodisiac foods, oysters have a reputation for fertility. Research shows they are high in zinc, which science has linked to increased sperm production. Oysters also contain two unusual amino acids – D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, both known to trigger the production of testosterone. Eating this libido-lifting treat raw ensures you get the greatest benefits of these amino acids, as cooking significantly reduces the amount. Oysters are eaten very seductively – you suck, slurp and eat them out of your hands, or someone else’s hands. See what I mean?

Red Wine

A little alcohol can dissolve inhibitions and put you in the mood. Red wine helps with relaxation and contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during intercourse.

Salmon

Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which keep sex hormone production at its peak. The pink, velvety texture of a salmon fillet is also stimulating to the senses.

Truffles

Earthy and black, truffles caused religious consternation in the days of the Arab empire. These precious fungi were banned from sale near mosques for fear they would corrupt the morals of good Muslims. Today, anything associated with luxury or indulgence is considered sexy – it must means she’s worth the extra expense, right?

So, light the candles, put on some soft, romantic music and incorporate the above foods into your menu. Cooking for your partner can serve as the best aphrodisiac of all.

Resources

www.cosmopolitan.com

www.greekmythology.com

www.health.usnews.com

www.independent.co.uk

www.webmd.com

Week 33: Ginseng

American Ginseng

My daughter, Gretchen, and I were roaming around Chinatown in San Francisco recently and happened to enter Superior Trading Company. The store is filled with Chinese medicines and herbs – some in barrels, some in glass jars, and many inside glass front cabinets. Everything was fascinating to look at, but descriptions were written in Chinese characters and we had to ask questions about the products and their uses. Ginseng, in particular, was plentiful and was offered in many forms. We’d heard of ginseng before and of its magical restorative properties. But what was it really?

I have since learned that ginseng is a slow-growing perennial herb with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax. The genus name Panax means “all heal” in Greek and refers to the herb as a panacea for many ailments. The aromatic root looks like a small parsnip that forks as it matures, resemblinga “Y” or the shape of a person. The plant grows 6″ to 18″  tall, usually bearing three leaves, each with three to five leaflets two to five inches long. The root of the plant is the part that is used. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) grows in North America (United States and Canada) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) grows in Asia (primarily in South Korea and China). Currently, Wisconsin produces nearly 95% of American ginseng. (The owners of Superior Trading Company were the first to export American Ginseng from Wisconsin to China in 1959.)

Ginseng root is red, white or wild and is most often available dried, whole, or sliced. Red ginseng has been peeled, heated through steaming at standard boiling temperatures of 100 °C (212 °F), and then dried or sun-dried. White ginseng, native to America, is fresh ginseng which has been dried without being heated. It is peeled and dried to reduce the water content to 12% or less. White ginseng air-dried in the sun may contain less of the therapeutic constituents. It is thought by some that enzymes contained in the root break down these constituents in the process of drying. Drying in the sun bleaches the root to a yellowish-white color. Wild ginseng grows naturally and is relatively rare due to its high demand in recent years. Wild ginseng can be either Asian or American, and can be processed to be red ginseng. There are ginseng growing programs in a number of states, including in Maine, where the ginseng certification program facilitates the export of American ginseng while meeting the requirements of the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

History

Panax ginseng was discovered over 5000 years ago in the mountains of Manchuria, China. Although probably originally used as food, it quickly became revered for its strength-giving and rejuvenating powers and its human shape became a powerful symbol of divine harmony on earth. The benefits of ginseng were first documented during China’s Liang Dynasty (220 to 589 AD). Chinese legend has it that early emperors used to use it as a remedy for all illnesses and not only consumed it, but also used it in soaps, lotions and creams.

In 1716 a Jesuit priest, working among the Iroquois in Canada, heard of a root highly valued by the Chinese. Because he felt the environment of French Canada closely resembled that of Manchuria, he began searching for examples of this amazing herb growing in the Canadian hardwood forests and after three months of searching he discovered American ginseng growing near Montreal.

Medical Uses & Warnings

Ginseng root is used energy drinks and herbal tea as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, type II diabetes treatment, to boost energy, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reduce stress and cure sexual dysfunction in men.

The optimal dose of ginseng is two to three grams per day, or a slice of root about the size of an almond sliver, or if using powder, a capsule of powder. The root can be brewed and taken as tea, simmered for one hour in chicken soup to make a healing broth, aged for three months in a quart of liquor and consumed as a nightcap or it may be simply chewed.

Doctors do not recommend taking ginseng along with antidepressants which are called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), because it can cause manic episodes and tremors. Ginseng should also never be taken along with blood pressure medication, heart medications or with drugs that affect blood clotting (such as warfarin or aspirin.)

Symptoms of gross overdose with Panax ginseng may include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, urinary and bowel incontinence, fever, increased blood pressure, increased respiration, decreased sensitivity and reaction to light, decreased heart rate, cyanotic (blue) facial complexion, red facial complexion, seizures, convulsions, and delirium.

Resources

“As ginseng prices soar, diggers take to the backcountry”. Fox News. 2012-09-28.

Chen, John K., and Tina T. Chen. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology.

http://www.csiginseng.com

http://www.maine.gov

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com