Zinc is also important for testosterone production. See my previous post, Oysters & Sauerkraut, Testosterone is biochemical nectar promoting sexual craving.
This got me to thinking. Aphrodisiacs are substances, like food or medicine, which positively affect libido. Is there an opposite? Can libido be negatively affected by medicine or food?
Why yes, yes it can.
Anaphrodisiacs are the opposite of aphrodisiacs. To pronounce anaphrodisiacs, think ‘an afro disiac.’
Anaphrodisiacs are not our friends.
In general, to inhibit sex drive biologically an anaphrodisiac will probably do one (or more) of the following:
- Reduce dopamine levels (because dopamine helps increases sexual desire)
- Increase serotonin levels (serotonin inhibits sexual desire).
- Reduce testosterone levels (testosterone also helps increase sexual desire)
In a libido nutshell, we like dopamine and testosterone and need to stay away from too much serotonin.
There are several common foods that act as anaphrodisiacs. Some of them are:
Quinine (an additive to Tonic Water)
Soy (there is a loud debate going on whether soy is either extremely good for you or extremely bad…I may tackle this is another post someday)
There are several common medicines that act as anaphrodisiacs: Some of them are:
Birth Control Pills
SSRI Anti-depressants (generic names paroxetine, fluoxetine, for example)
*Opioid Pain Medications (like vicodin)
Statins (cholesterol regulators, like Lipitor)
Beta-blockers (treat heart conditions, glaucoma and migraines)
Diuretics (treats high blood pressure, PMS)
I want to focus on mint and opioid pain medication. Because, a surprising correlation was found between them. Wives of old touted peppermint as a type of birth control. Some have discarded this as a myth. But, I say, where there is smoke, there is fire.
Let’s look at hard science.
About the size of a pearl, the hypothalamus sits deep in the brain, right above the brain stem. The hypothalamus is the hormone releasing center and thus is very important to our libido. A portion of our libido is biological because the hormone, testosterone, is the key player in sexual craving.
Opioid Pain Medications have a compound that interferes with the hypothalamus’s ability to send out signals. These biochemical signals say, ‘release the cracken of testosterone’ to our ovaries. So, opioids kill the signal to our ovaries to produce testosterone and thereby reduces the testosterone in our bodies.
Opioids have also been known to increase the production of prolactin. Prolactin is a main factor in breastfeeding. Unfortunately, prolactin counteracts the effect of our friend, dopamine.
It is in the methyl alcohol (menthol) component of peppermint and spearmint leaves that we find our villain. Menthol is an opioid mimic! A study with women done in Turkey indicates having two cups of spearmint tea per day for five days each week squelches the amount of free testosterone. It is specifically spearmint tea, not peppermint in this study which proved felonious. Peppermint tea was shown to reduce testosterone in rats.
Fortunately, I’m a coffee drinker. And, I think I will be chewing cinnamon gum exclusively from now on.
FYI – One study I read alluded to camphor having the same opioid mimicking effect. If you are low libido, you may want to carefully consider how much camphor you inhale (Vicks Vaporub) or you rub on as a muscle pain relief.
It is interesting to contemplate that the cooling property of these common items, menthol, is the chemical reason for libido cooling, as well.
Fun facts aside, the most important thing is to be aware of any physical libido fluctuations you may feel.
If there is a marked increase or a marked decrease, it might be good to contemplate what you have been doing differently in life. It may just be your body’s natural fluctuation and aging. But, then again, there may be environmental influences.
You are perfectly normal, my sweet low libido friend. There is nothing defective in you. That’s just how you are ticking right now. See previous post: Perfectly Normal. However, remember, God ordained sexual intimacy in marriage as good. He will help you in this area if it’s a struggle in your marriage.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.”
I embrace my sexual freedom as beloved of my husband. I embrace my husband’s God given outlook on sexual intimacy.