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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Bizarre Aphrodisiacs from Around the World

These foods are said to amp up your libido, but can you stomach them?

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There’s nothing like a near-death experience to get you and your partner in the mood. Handled improperly, fugu (or blowfish) has enough tetrodotoxin to poison you 30 times over! Many people have died from eating fugu, but if prepared the right way, it leaves adventurous eaters with a tingling sensation that is said to be one of the reasons it increases libido. You can safely help yourself to fugu in Japan, as long as the chef who prepares it has the special license and technique to handle it properly.

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If you’ve ever seen the “Ambergris” episode of Bob’s Burgers, you know that it is a truly strange substance. Secreted by a sperm whale, it is used both as a food and as an ingredient in some luxury perfumes. Casanova apparently used ambergris-infused perfume to make the ladies swoon, and it has a history in the Middle East of being consumed to increase a man’s virility. One royal family in that region reportedly combines ambergris with milk and honey to create the passion-inducing dish. It is banned in the United States because of the endangered status of the sperm whale, but other countries still buy and sell it. Depending on the size of the ambergris, it can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

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Cobra blood

There is no scientific data supporting the claim that cobra blood increases desire or virility, but many people in Asian countries, including China and Vietnam, believe that drinking a glass of cobra blood heightens a man’s strength and libido. Because the snake is revered by people of these nations, they believe that the strong qualities of the cobra will be transferred to you if you drink its bodily fluids. Some drink it straight, while others mix it in with rice wine for a cocktail. Your average Bloody Mary looks much tamer now, doesn’t it? Of course, you can always try these 31 natural libido boosters instead.

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Bird’s nest soup

The can of Campbell soup in your cupboard might have cost you a buck or two, but one ounce of bird’s nest soup costs $100 an ounce. So what is so special about this soup that makes it so expensive? Bird spit! This Chinese dish is made from the nests of a type of bird called a swiftlet, which fortifies its nest with its saliva. Harvesters go to great lengths to procure this rare ingredient, as swiftlet nests are found high up in cave walls.

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Spanish-flyDziyana Lisa/Shutterstock

Spanish fly

Whale secretions aren’t the only kind on this list. The secretions of the Spanish fly (which is really a type of beetle) are thought to be nature’s Viagra. Consuming it can prepare a man’s body for sex (if you catch our drift), but it can also come with some pretty uncomfortable side effects. Blistering and urinary tract problems can occur as a result of consuming the Spanish fly’s secretions. Still, people buy it all over Europe.

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Sea cucumbers

There are foods that are thought to be aphrodisiacs simply because of their shape. So what does a sea cucumber look like to you? Exactly. Its phallic shape is part of the reason people believe it can increase your sex drive. (The power of suggestion, right?) This is another food that the Chinese value. It can either be eaten dried or cooked to a tender, buttery state.

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RootIldi Papp/Shutterstock

Maca root

Maca has been used as a libido enhancer for thousands of years, and it has been scientifically proven to increase sperm count and arousal in animals. Whether it does the same job for humans is still up for debate, but that hasn’t stopped people from using maca to increase their sexual desire. Unlike acquiring ambergris or Spanish flies, you can easily put maca powder into a smoothie. It sure beats these foods that can actually kill your sex drive.

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Cow cod soup

Cow cod soup is really just a nice way of saying prairie oysters, aka bull testicles. Cow cod soup is a Jamaican delicacy often made with bananas, peppers, pumpkin, or sweet potato. Some people think that eating this soup improves a man’s libido. Actually, that’s not the only type of animal genitals people ingest. Another is tiger penis, but as wild tigers are endangered, we don’t advise you to go searching for it.

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Durianseeyah panwan/Shutterstock


According to Anthony Bourdain, durian is a very divisive fruit; some people love it, and some people hate it, because it gives off a notoriously horrible odor and, to some palettes, an equally bad taste. A study done in India has proved that consumption of the durian fruit increases male sex drive and sperm count. So, if you can make it past the stench, you might be curious to see what it can do for you.

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You may not think about it when you’re snagging a deli sandwich during your lunch break, but mustard is actually a documented aphrodisiac. It was the ancient Greeks who figured out that mustard seeds improve overall blood flow, which is important for men when it comes to getting it on. The Chinese think it promotes sexual desire because of the spice’s heat factor. It looks like a little spice in your meal can spice up your bedroom! Check out these other foods and spices that can also improve your circulation.

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Caterpillar-fungusLI CHAOSHU/Shutterstock

Caterpillar fungus

This Tibetan fungus only grows during the spring, but it’s not its harvest schedule that makes it so desirable. Also known as “yartsa gunbu” and “the Viagra of the Himalayas,” this fungus is worth $50,000 a pound. A Tibetan text from the 1400s describes the fungus as being most helpful in the bedroom, increasing one’s sex drive and overall virility. Today, people all over China still buy the caterpillar fungus, not just for its sexual qualities but as a status symbol.

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If your in-laws gave you a box of ants as a wedding gift, you’d probably never speak to them again. In South American countries such as Colombia, though, this is a common practice. Leafcutter ants are considered an aphrodisiac in that region and are often sold on the street as roasted, on-the-go delicacies.

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Duck eggs

Another popular street food in the Philippines and Laos are duck eggs, known as balut. But these aren’t the kind of eggs you keep in your refrigerator at home; these eggs contain a duck fetus that is already a few weeks into its gestation period. Looking at it is hardly appetizing, but it is filled with nutrients and is said to increase a person’s energy. If you’re lacking energy in the bedroom, this could be the snack you’ve been looking for. That said, don’t worry if you’re not stoked about any of these exotic options. Here are 19 natural aphrodisiac foods that are already in your kitchen.

Taylor Markarian
Taylor is a regular contributor to covering culture, advice, travel, pets, and all things weird and haunted. She is the author of From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society, which analyzes the evolution of punk and mental health. She holds a B.A. in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College.