Spices Through the Ages II: From Aphrodisiacs to Cosmetics

Spices Through the Ages II: From Aphrodisiacs to Cosmetics

We can’t stress enough how valuable spices products are in our daily lives. A pinch of salt and pepper can be life changing especially when cooking some of our favorite meals. It literally adds color and flavor to anything we create in the kitchen. If we look back in time, ancient people used them in various ways. They did not limit it to just cooking but also used them in other aspects of their lives. Here's the other fascinating uses of spices through the ages.

APHRODISIAC

The term "aphrodisiac" comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Throughout history, people have used various substances, such as herbs, spices, and other foods, to enhance sexual desire and performance. Photo by Abhishek Gaurav.
The term "aphrodisiac" comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Throughout history, people have used various substances, such as herbs, spices, and other foods, to enhance sexual desire and performance. Photo by Abhishek Gaurav. 

They literally want to spice up things in bed! Ancient people believed that certain spices had aphrodisiac properties that could help them get in the mood, and while the effectiveness of these spices may be up for debate, there's no denying that they were willing to go beyond to find the perfect recipe for a steamy night in.  

Greeks in love. Photo by Margit Wallner.
Greeks in love. Photo by Margit Wallner. 

The ancient Greeks used a variety of herbs and spices as aphrodisiacs, including anise, coriander, cumin, fennel, and ginger. They believed that these spices had properties that could increase sexual desire and enhance performance.  

Ancient Egyptians are all out when it comes to love. Not only are they fond of love potions, but they also want to level up their intimate moments with their partners. Photo by undefined from Getty Images.
Ancient Egyptians are all out when it comes to love. Not only are they fond of love potions, but they also want to level up their intimate moments with their partners. Photo by undefined from Getty Images.  

Egyptians used a variety of herbs and spices in their love potions, including cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and saffron. They also believed that certain foods, such as honey and almonds, could enhance sexual desire and performance.  

Chinese lovers depicted from the story “The Cowherd Boy and the Weaver Girl”. Photo by goeastmandarin.com
Chinese lovers depicted from the story The Cowherd Boy and the Weaver Girl”. Photo by goeastmandarin.com 

Traditional Chinese medicine has used a variety of herbs and spices as aphrodisiacs for centuries. Examples include ginseng, goji, and berries. There is this Horny Goat weed that was used to increase libido and treat erectile dysfunction.

The Incas had a rich tradition of using spices, herbs and plants to enhance their love lives, and many of these are still used in South America today. Photo by Yolanda from pixabay.
The Incas had a rich tradition of using spices, herbs and plants to enhance their love lives, and many of these are still used in South America today. Photo by Yolanda from pixabay. 

The Incas have the Peruvian “uchu” (peppers) and the Mexican chili. They were known to possess aphrodisiac properties. They applied it to their meal recipes as it not only gives wonders to their dishes but also gives excitement for couples during love making. 

COSMETICS

A part of a painting from the tomb of Nakht showing women with elaborate makeup and accessories during a feast. Credit: Frans Lemmens/Corbis Unreleased /via Getty Images
A part of a painting from the tomb of Nakht showing women with elaborate makeup and accessories during a feast. Credit: Frans Lemmens/Corbis Unreleased /via Getty Images.

Ancient people loved to play around with spices and discovered ways to use them as cosmetics to enhance their natural beauty. The ancient Egyptians are well-known for their elaborate use of cosmetics, which included a variety of spices. They used ground malachite and galena as eyeliners, henna to dye their hair and nails, and a mixture of ground red ochre and vegetable oils as lipstick 

“Berbere” is a classic Ethiopian spice that not only for adding flavor to dishes but also used as a natural exfoliant and skin brightener. Add water or oil to the spice and apply to the face to exfoliate the skin. A word of caution though, some people may be sensitive to certain spices in the blend, which could cause irritation or allergic reactions. As with any new skincare product, it's a good idea to test it on a small patch of skin first to see how your skin reacts. Photo by Bilakis.
“Berbere” is a classic Ethiopian spice that not only for adding flavor to dishes but also used as a natural exfoliant and skin brightener. Add water or oil to the spice and apply to the face to exfoliate the skin. A word of caution though, some people may be sensitive to certain spices in the blend, which could cause irritation or allergic reactions. As with any new skincare product, it's a good idea to test it on a small patch of skin first to see how your skin reacts. Photo by Bilakis. 

In Ethiopia, women have been using a spice called "Berbere" as a cosmetic for centuries. Berbere is a blend of spices that includes red pepper, ginger, cardamom, and other spices, and it is used to make a paste that is applied to the face and body to help brighten and even out the skin tone.  

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and was also used for cosmetics by ancient people. Photo by Petar Bonev from Getty Images Pro.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and was also used for cosmetics by ancient people. Photo by Petar Bonev from Getty Images Pro. 

The Greeks and Romans used saffron as a hair dye, ground almonds as an exfoliant, and rose petals in their perfumes. They also used honey and olive oil as moisturizers. 

Red Sandalwood was used as a flavor for food and beverages. It was widely used as a food coloring in medieval and renaissance period. Photo by madeleinesteinbach.
Red Sandalwood was used as a flavor for food and beverages. It was widely used as a food coloring in medieval and renaissance period. Photo by madeleinesteinbach. 

Women from ancient China used red sandalwood to create a red pigment for the lips and cheeks. They ground the wood into fine powder and mix it with water or other liquids to create a paste for them to apply on their faces. The use of red sandalwood can be traced back to the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). This was very popular among royalties and elite women.  

A wide array of flavorful spices. Photo by Zolnierek from Getty Images.
A wide array of flavorful spices. Photo by Zolnierek from Getty Images. 

In conclusion, spices are versatile ingredients that have been integrated in our culture and history. Whether we use them to add thrill in the bedroom or as part of a beauty regimen, they remain significant till this very day. A big thanks to our ancient folks who did some experiments and discovered the spices' other uses aside from being food enhancers.  

Our one of a kind KLISHI spices. Check it out and try the wonders of African spices.

Our one of a kind KLISHI spices. Check it out and try the wonders of African spices.  

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