Is chilli really an aphrodisiac - or is this a myth?

by House of Scoville
July 06, 2017

Hot chilli peppers have earned themselves quite the amazing reputation, especially in recent years since the scientific community's been able to delve deeper into their research of spicy food.

Chilli peppers have been proven to do everything from reducing inflammation in your body to helping your immune system function better. This makes them an ideal addition to your kitchen - however, chilli peppers may prove themselves important in the bedroom as well.

Chilli sex aphrodisiac

What is an aphrodisiac?

Before you start getting any weird ideas, let’s make sure you understand what an aphrodisiac is. An aphrodisiac is a substance that improves libido when consumed. This makes them fundamentally different from substances that improve your fertility rate or fix erectile dysfunction - aphrodisiacs actually put you in the mood.

Classifying aphrodisiacs can be extremely difficult for a number of reasons.

  • Aphrodisiacs are extremely liable to be a form of placebo. Many times, if someone eats or drinks something expecting it to improve their libido, it’ll happen.
  • Some substances could be classified as aphrodisiacs in certain situations only - for example, buspirone is a prescribed medication that can restore libido but does not inherently boost it.

Your libido is closely linked to the productivity of sex hormones in your body, particularly testosterone (which, when supplemented, is considered an effective aphrodisiac.) Most drugs that positively impact the production of dopamine (like amphetamines) have a positive effect on the libido as well.

Why are chilli peppers considered aphrodisiac?

Chilli peppers and spice have been suggested to have aphrodisiac qualities for quite some time. Whether or not these claims find a basis in science is a matter of debate, but regardless, the market continues to stock ‘hot’ products for people’s sex lives.

  • There are hot & cold condoms which respectively mimic the feeling of cold or the feeling of hotness/spiciness on the special bits of whoever’s using them. Some love the feelings, and others don’t.
  • Eating spicy food has been suggested to improve a person’s libido. The response from eating something extremely spicy - sweating, a fast-beating heart, and excitement - are quite similar to the state of extreme sexual arousal.
    • Eating spicy food tends to plump up the lips a bit, making them appealing to the opposite sex
    • The face flushes in a way reminiscent of being sexually aroused
  • Eating spicy food also releases endorphins which can cause excitability, a good mood, and motivation - which can lead to sexy situations.

So, while these things might pave the way for a good time in the bedroom, does this actually classify the chilli pepper as an aphrodisiac?

Is my spicy meal going to improve my libido?

In short - maybe.

The conclusion of a lot of aphrodisiac research is that - with the exception of fundamental aphrodisiacs like testosterone - most of the libido is a result of the individual’s psychology. There are drugs that can fix erectile dysfunction, for example, but they still leave the process of getting aroused to the user.

However, hot chilli peppers can definitely lead into a situation which could be unexpectedly sexy. Chilli peppers cause a release of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the brain - these two chemicals are released in wild animals as a response to fear, action, and arousal - which is what causes you to sweat and have a fast heartbeat.

Adrenaline also plays a huge role in sexual chemistry. A study was done that proved that couples who met in a scary situation, when their adrenaline was pumping - like meeting on a bridge over a ravine - were more likely to exchange numbers and develop a healthy relationship.

So if the chilli peppers themselves don’t contain any compounds that could be considered direct aphrodisiacs, they may contribute to an improvement in the consumer’s sex life because of a few factors.

  • Endorphins released as a response to the pain of eating hot chilli peppers could motivate someone to be more confident in making a sexual approach, or could provide relief from erectile dysfunction
  • The after-effects of eating chilli peppers mimic a sexual response both externally and internally and could fuel the fire for your evening
  • Chilli peppers stimulate the production of adrenaline which can sometimes be considered an aphrodisiac and at the very least enhances the connections built between two people

How does this compare to other aphrodisiacs?

Chilli peppers can stand up pretty good when compared to other aphrodisiacs, such as chocolate, oysters, and truffles. All food-based aphrodisiacs seem to have similar effects and a similar rate of efficiency for one main reason: science isn’t sure if aphrodisiac foods actually work.

The research on culinary aphrodisiacs is much less common than the tales and historic anecdotes that document their use. However, small studies and group opinions seem to state a common agreement: very few people are sure that they’ve actually felt a definite aphrodisiac effect from eating something.

Experts suggest that the power of suggestion plays much more of a role in the culinary aphrodisiac department. Watching your partner eat, after talking about how each ingredient of the food you’re eating is supposed to fire you up, might actually inspire your mind - and your lower parts - to become aroused, but this doesn’t mean the food itself is the culprit.

If you happen to be eating spicy food, the familiarity of being hot, sweaty, and having your heart pounding might remind you of other situations which were much more sexual - but, again, this isn’t the food directly causing your arousal. It’s your mind and memories.

In conclusion

So, chilli peppers have been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries.

Undoubtedly, they will continue to be used as such. While little documented evidence on the actual aphrodisiac nature of chilli peppers (or any foods, really) exists, there’s tons of documented evidence on the placebo effect, and it’s quite possible that this is what causes arousal in many of these cases.

So, knowing that, you can still use chilli peppers as an aphrodisiac. In fact, you could use anything! Telling your partner you’re feeding them a bowl full of aphrodisiacs might be all you need. However, remember - just because there’s no scientific evidence to prove that capsaicin is an aphrodisiac, that doesn’t disprove the idea. We’re just not sure yet.

Regardless, if you're looking to spice things up in the bedroom, why don't you grab a few bottles of hot chilli sauces and find out for yourself! Let us know in the comments section below if our sauces got you lucky, we're dying to know!

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