Which Aphrodisiacs Really Work? An Investigation

Figs, oysters and goji berries: Do any of these so-called libido enhancers actually make you horny?
Daisy Jones
London, GB
A hand holding supposed aphrodisiacs powdered maca root and a plate of oysters
All photos by the author

We are, arguably, living in the least horny era in history. People in the UK are shagging less, using TikTok more and are apparently too busy making the most of their 24 hours in a day to get in the mood. Plus, there've been things like climate emergencies and deadly pandemics to deal with, which I’d imagine are major boner killers.


I'm not sure how much I believe in the above horn-lessness – I am, personally, doing just fine – but numbers don't lie. So what can be done about it? There are long term fixes, I'm sure (let people have their four-day working week so that they have more time to want to fuck!). But what about the short term? Are there any quick fixes for those lacking in horn?

Enter: the aphrodisiac

The science behind aphrodisiacs is patchy at best. Oysters, for example, have been touted as a sex drive booster for centuries, but there's little concrete evidence that these pussy-shaped seafood treats do more than top up our vitamin levels. And while Viagra has been tried and tested for those with dicks, some people with vaginas told me that it made their heart beat like they'd just bombed some speed. 

So I decided to investigate some aphrodisiacs myself. For the sake of transparency, I'd say I'm averagely horny – I hover at a seven out of ten most days (a little more after my period, a little less when I'm stressed). For any of these to work, then, my horny levels would need to be closer to ten. Here goes:

Day 1: Goji Berries

A hand full of goji berries, a supposed aphrodisiac

Supposedly nicknamed “happy berries” in China, goji berries are supposed to not only improve your mood, but also increase the libido of all genders. There's even an ancient Chinese proverb that goes something like: “He who travels one thousand kilometres from home should not eat goji”, although it’s unclear if goji berry sellers just made this up for their PR releases. Anyway, such is the power of these horny little fruits.


After eating massive handfuls of the stuff though, I can't say I was hornier than usual. In fact, I think my mood actually… dampened throughout the day? And not in a good way. By mid-afternoon I felt pissed off and even got into an argument with an elderly man at the post office (not horny behaviour).

After doing some research, I read that goji berries increase testosterone. Could this be the cause of my aggression? I Googled, “Do goji berries make you aggressive?” but nothing came up. Either way, I felt drier than a piece of stale toast. 

Horny level: 4

Day 2: Figs

Close-up of cut figs, a supposed aphrodisiac

This is more like it. Figs, the forbidden sapphic fruit, are supposed to make you horny because eating them reminds you of eating someone out. Plus, they're crammed with zinc and magnesium – two nutrients that boost sex hormones and increase pheromones, apparently. Lucky me. 

I gorged down on some figs and definitely felt… a subtle stirring. It's true: eating out a sticky fleshy object with your tongue does make you think about a specific act. And while I wasn't “chaotic” levels of horny, I did seem to be slowly returning to my usual self. I fired off some tongue emojis to my girlfriend and scooped out another fig. 


Horny level: 6

Day 3: Oysters

A plate of oysters, a supposed aphrodisiac

Oysters. The Big Daddy of aphrodisiacs. The gloopy, dripping mother of them all. Did you know that the Roman Emperor Aulus Vitellius allegedly consumed around 1,200 oysters at a dinner feast in the year 69 AD? Sounds fake, but a lot of what the Romans did sounds fake, so I'm choosing to believe. 

I managed to track down some oysters in Shoreditch, near the office, and ordered a few. Hatti Rex, the VICE UK social editor, was not impressed by the experiment: “What? So you're just going to sit in the office proper horny and frothing at the mouth?” she said. “We'll see,” I replied, before making her take some photos. 

Daisy Jones eating oysters, a supposed aphrodisiac

I don't know if it was a placebo, but I did actually feel hornier a few hours after consuming these still-alive sea creatures. Suckling on their salty, fleshy bodies made me think about my own body, which made me think about sex. I didn't stick around in the office though, obviously. I went straight home, where my horn would be appreciated.

Horny level: 8

Day 4: Maca Root

A hand with a handful of powdered maca root capsules, a supposed aphrodisiac

After three days of consuming aphrodisiac foods and not experiencing any truly earth-shattering results, I decided to go for a more straightforward, herbal approach: maca root.

Unlike some of the aphrodisiacs on this list, some studies have shown maca root to increase sex drive in men and decrease sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. One type – black maca – even increased sperm count in rats. I am neither man, rat, nor postmenopausal, but figured there’d be no harm in trying. So I popped a couple of these babies (which, strangely, smell like milk) and waited for the horn to kick in.


Weirdly, it did. Maybe it was in combo with the oysters yesterday, or the accumulative result of back-to-back aphrodisiacs, but I felt hornier than a porcupine on heat. I also broke out in acne. Basically: I transformed into a 14-year-old boy. Nice.

Horny level: 8.5

Day 5: Damiana

A rolled cigarette of damiana, a supposed aphrodisiac

After putting so many things in my mouth ;) I decided to go for a different approach for the fifth day: Damiana – an ancient, smokable herb. We actually have a lot of damiana lying around the house because it looks and smells like weed, but crucially is not weed, and therefore means you smoke less weed.

It’s also – only anecdotally – a powerful aphrodisiac and works by increasing circulation and making the sex organs (sorry for saying “sex organs”) more sensitive. After having a few puffs and stirring some into my tea, I thought I’d be climbing the walls.

Not so much. This stuff made me feel so chill and dazed that I drifted into a deep slumber and had extremely visual, fucked-up dreams. Not even sex dreams – just nightmares about being buried under a pile of old metallic junk. I woke up feeling anxious and strange and… not horny.

Horny level: 6

Despite a few bumps in the road, I do think Aphrodisiac Week was hornier than other weeks. I’m no scientist, but I think if you keep asking yourself “Am I horny? Am I horny?”, you will eventually become extra horny by sheer force of will. Constantly thinking about sex is going to make you more aware of sex which is going to make you want more sex. And I definitely did.

That said, I’m not about to flog these foods to people with dead libidos or erectile dysfunction. For any of these to “do their magic”, I’d imagine you’d need to consume them over a longer period of time in far higher quantities – and even then, I’m skeptical. There are endless reasons that people might have a low sex drive, so there’s never going to be one cure-for-all.

But they did all taste and feel good. And I will be gorging on figs and oysters… and everything else, regardless. Bon appetit!