The polynesian plant kava (Piper methysticum), also called kava kava, is a member of the pepper family. Its roots are made into a drink consumed much like alcohol throughout Polynesian culture. The botanical name, in fact, means “intoxicating pepper.” The roots contain kavalactones, which are compounds including half a dozen psychoactive chemicals.
The drink supposedly gives euphoria and relaxation without dulling the mind, and has been used to that effect for many centuries. It is also used as a sedative which promotes a gentle, dreamless sleep. And if you have enough of it, it also has anaesthetic properties. Your lips may become numb, for example.
You can have too much of anything, of course. Though generally taken without trouble, an excess can cause severe liver problems.
This is a plant whose effect may not be precisely an aphrodisiac, but which is certainly useful in working toward such an outcome. Like spikenard, it relaxes a person, and on top of that it increases a sociable state of mind, allowing, as they say, nature to take its course.
But wait, there’s more! It is said that kava gives a warming sensation all over one’s body and an increase in sensitivity to touch. I’m uncertain whether this is caused by the kind of blood vessel relaxation that, say, capsaicin has, but if it is true, kava is able to both reduce social anxiety and heighten tactile rewards, which is very close to being a true aphrodisiac.
The only thing you’d need at that point is a bump up in actual desire – which of course is what the word means in the first place.