Rosemary – An Aphrodisiac for Men

Along with foods, herbs constitute one of the most common ingredients believed to have aphrodisiacal powers. The use of herbs may enhance a person’s libido by influencing the senses of smell and taste or by alleviating physiological as well psychological disorders which may be interfering with sexual pleasure. Rosemary is one such herb which has been used as an aphrodisiac since ancient times.

About rosemary

Botanically known as Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen leaves. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family of plants which includes other aromatic herbs like the mint. Rosemary bears small delicate flowers in variable colors like white, purple, pink or blue. It is native to lands around the Mediterranean Sea, even though now it is grown and used in many other parts of the world which enjoy a Mediterranean type of climate. The Latin name officinalis was used for herbs which were formally recognized as possessing medicinal properties.

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Rosemary as an aphrodisiac

The secret to rosemary’s reputation as an aphrodisiac lies most probably in its stimulant properties. For ages rosemary oil has been known to increase mental alertness and strengthen memory. This may be due to the presence of certain psychotropic chemicals in the essential oil. And since the brain controls the action of the sex hormones in the body, the stimulant effect on the mind may lead to a greater awareness of agents of sexual arousal and heightened sexual pleasure.

The astringent properties of Rosemary oil also make it an excellent physical stimulant. When applied on the skin, the oil has a cooling erotic effect which may aid in exciting the erogenous zones in men, bringing about quicker erections as well as more intense orgasms.

Moreover rosemary oil is well known for its intoxicating aroma which is capable of evoking myriad sensual pleasures in men. The heightened responses of the senses to agents of pleasure further help in arousing sexual desire. At the same time rosemary’s effect on memory adds another dimension to its aphrodisiacal property. As Cynthia Mervis Watson, author of Love Potions: A Guide to Aphrodisiacs and Sexual Pleasures, points out, rosemary plays on our scent memory – our strongest tie to emotional experiences. This means that if the scent of rosemary has been present during a past amorous event, the mere smell of the herb will act as a Pavlovian “call to love” in similar amorous interactions of the future.

The dried leaves of rosemary are loaded with nutrients essential for healthy sex. They are particularly rich in iron, calcium and vitamin B6. Iron contains hemoglobin which is necessary for proper supply of oxygen-rich blood to all the major organs of the body including the sex organs. Among men, effective blood supply is crucial for the attainment and maintenance of erection and so intake of iron-rich nutrients may help in their love life. While vitamin B is useful for boosting libido, calcium can make orgasms powerful since muscles that control ejaculation need calcium to function properly. All these vital nutrients are present in rosemary leaf which interestingly is one of the few natural foods that are more nutritious when dried rather than in the fresh form.

Using rosemary

The leaves and flowers of rosemary are generally used in medicinal preparations. The dried leaves may be used to make tisane, herbal preparations or added in a number of foods for seasoning. Other than this rosemary extract is also commercially available in capsule and liquid forms.

The typical dosage of rosemary leaves is 4-6 grams daily for therapeutic purposes.  Rosemary tea can be prepared by adding 2 teaspoons (10 grams) of herb to 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water and allowing it to steep in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes. This infusion can be taken several times per day. Rosemary tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2 to 5 ml) three times per day, may also be used.

One important way to use rosemary is in the form of its essential oil which is derived from the herb by the steam distillation process. Rosemary oil has extensive application in aromatherapy where it is used to treat anxiety/stress, stomach disorder, nerve pain, headache, skin conditions, hairfall and dandruff. On skin and the scalp, it is used as spiritus rosmarini while a cold infusion of rosemary leaves and buds combined with borax makes an excellent hairwash. However rosemary essential oil should not be taken internally.

Another major use of rosemary is as a culinary herb which is added to season a variety of traditional Mediterranean dishes. The herb has a bitter, astringent taste and nicely complements oily foods such as lamb and oily fish. It is also used in barbequing since when burned it gives off distinct mustard smell besides adding flavor to barbequed meat dishes.

The possible side effects of rosemary

Generally rosemary is well-tolerated if used in limited amounts. However overdose may lead to nausea, cramping, hypotension when used internally and in external applications, large doses may result in skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis.

People who are suffering from blood sugar disorder should refrain from using the herb since it may worsen conditions like diabetes. Based on traditional use of rosemary in inducing abortions and its suspected embryotoxic effects, the herb should be avoided by pregnant women and those who wish to have a baby.

Rosemary may also interfere with effect of medications containing estrogen and lithium because of the diuretic properties of the herb. The herb may also increase the risk of bleeding among patients taking blood thinning drugs like aspirin, warfarin, anti-platelet drugs as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. As with any potent herb, it is best to consult a trained healthcare provider before taking rosemary in the natural form or as extracts.

In many ancient depictions of Aphrodite/Venus, the goddess of Love is seen as holding a sprig of rosemary or wearing the flowers in her hair. Later, Rosemary’s purported powers as a memory enhancer made it a symbol of remembrance and fidelity among lovers. The association with love was further strengthened by its long use as an aphrodisiac which continues to this day in the form of many foods, infusions and aromatic preparations that use rosemary to stimulate and invigorate.