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The Encyclopedia of Aphrodisiacs

Psychoactive Substances for Use in Sexual Practices

The most comprehensive guide to the botany, pharmacology, cultural, ritual, and personal use of erotically stimulating substances from antiquity to the present day

• Details the use, preparation, and dosage of more than 400 plant, animal, mineral, and synthetic substances, both common and exotic, as well as their botany, science, and legal status

• Explores the historical and present use of aphrodisiacs and their role in sexual practices, culture, and art

• Richly illustrated throughout with more than 800 color photographs

The culmination of more than 30 years of cultural, anthropological, and scientific research, this encyclopedia examines the botany, pharmacology, history, preparation, dosage, and practical use of more than 400 erotically stimulating substances from antiquity to the present day.

From plants and animals that enhance fertility and virility, like celery, snails, or oysters, to substances that induce arousal, like ephedra, opium, or cannabis, the encyclopedia is richly illustrated with more than 800 color photographs--many of which are from the authors’ extensive fieldwork around the world. Exploring individual, medicinal, and ritual use through historic and contemporary artwork, personal accounts, and literature as well as ayurvedic, tantric, shamanic, and European folklore practices and recent pharmacological research, the authors look at the revolving cycle of acceptance and condemnation of aphrodisiacs, the qualities that incur the label of “aphrodisiac,” the role of mind and setting, and the different ways aphrodisiacs stimulate desire--either physically, through the senses and vital organs, or mentally, through heightened awareness and altered consciousness. This comprehensive guide reveals these “remedies of the love goddess” as holy remedies whose proper use can help reestablish harmony with oneself, one’s partner, and the universe.

Christian Rätsch, Ph.D., is a world-renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist who specializes in the shamanic uses of plants. He is the author of Marijuana Medicine and coauthor of Plants of the Gods, Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas, Witchcraft Medicine, and The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. He lives in Hamburg, Germany, and lectures around the world.

Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Ph.D., is an art historian and anthropologist and coauthor, with Christian Rätsch, of Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas, Witchcraft Medicine, and Pagan Christmas. She lives in Hamburg, Germany.

“A treasure house of esoteric lore and delightful tidbits of erotica . . . well illustrated and intricately cross-referenced, it is a useful companion for the researcher, aficionado, dabbler, or just plain interested [beginner].”

– The Journal of Divine Ecstasy

“An elegant, unsentimental, and extraordinary book. From photographs of African fertility dances to full tantrik instructions, from French phallic ancient stone monuments to a discussion of pheromones, this is the best of its kind I've seen. Highly recommended.”

– Yellow Silk

“Aside from the erotic implications, sexual energy is the universe’s great rejuvenator, making this a good reference tool for intellectually inclined energy workers. It will also interest those who seriously study ancient goddess tradition. Consider displaying it strategically to boost sales of essential oils, incense, candles, and even jewelry (agate, jade, and amber are all considered aphrodisiacs).”

– Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight, December 2011

“Three decades of cultural and scientific research inform this panoramic assembly of all substances sexually stimulating. From abalone to zinc, more than 400 lust-inspiring vegetable, animal, mineral, and man-made materials are profiled by the anthropologist authors, with explanations on methods of use, preparation and dosage. Also discussed is their legality and place in history. Including 800 color photographs...this is a valuable and unusual resource. Verdict Containing commentary from the authors’ experiences as well as ‘personal reports of friends and colleagues,’ this tome is a genuine labor of love.”

– Christina Connolly, Library Journal, December 2012

“In creating this book, Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling have joined a growing chorus of perceptive voices insisting that our inherent sexual nature not only be accepted but also embraced, for it is an essential element of our humanness. Their supportive look at the wide range and nature of aphrodisiacs is a welcome addition to the growing body of knowledge of our human exploration of pleasure.”

– Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of The Secret Teachings of Plants

The Encyclopedia of Aphrodisiacs is a sensuous and colorful compendium of plants and potions that invigorate the senses and nourish the body, turning one’s thoughts and actions toward love, pleasure, and passion. Full of mystery, magic, myth, and science, this book opens the doors to a world of time-tested remedies that help us rise to our full potential as amazing lovers of life.”

– Brigitte Mars, author of The Sexual Herbal

“A comprehensive and scholarly work exploring humanity’s extensive use of ‘Agents of the Love Goddess.’ A superb job of presenting the often taboo subject of aphrodisiacs in the light of pharmacology, herbalism, and human sexuality.”

– David Hoffmann, FNIMH, RH, cofounder of the American Herbalist Guild and author of Medical Herbalism