Yes, Love Potions Were Real, And They Were Disgusting

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Vote up the disgusting love potion you most want to give your crush/enemy.

Love potions are powerful stuff—if they work, that is. They're incredibly popular in pop culture, depictions of witchcraft, and have their roots in history as far back as Biblical times. The idea of a love potion is idyllic: give the object of your desire a little vial to ingest, and they will become yours forever. However, the reality of these love potions was a little more complicated and a lot more disgusting than that. Up there with gross foods from colonial America, aristocratic France, and even the 1950s, the ingredients in some of these ancient, medieval, and even more modern love potion recipes range from the icky, like insects, to the straight-up horrid, like crushed bones and menstrual blood. Be sure to venture into this article on an empty stomach.

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  • 1
    240 VOTES

    One Potion Required Human Cadavers

    As popular as animal remains were in potions, human cadavers were more taboo, but still utilized. These included bone smashed into a powder, hair, and the menstrual blood. The potions allegedly worked best if there were ingredients from both romantic parties involved.

    One specific recipe called for the spleen and bone marrow of a murdered boy, so sometimes these things got pretty specific. The use of menstrual blood in numerous love potions hints at the fact that it was mostly women who used love potions, and some ended up being convicted of witchcraft as a result.

    240 votes
  • 2
    331 VOTES

    Medieval "Love Cake" Involved Sweating Into Your Dough–From Every Orifice

    Love potions were generally ingested, which makes the ingredients of this medieval-era "love cake" potentially disgusting. If someone wanted to make a person fall in love with them, they would bake a cake while not wearing any clothing, and then rub the dough on every single orifice in order to absorb their sweat into the cake. Yes, this included armpits and privates. They would then feed the finished cake to their crush, who would fall head over heels in love, thanks to the power of sweat.

    331 votes
  • A Variety Of Animal Remains Were Incredibly Popular, Especially Spanish Fly
    Photo: Franco Christophe / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    183 VOTES

    A Variety Of Animal Remains Were Incredibly Popular, Especially Spanish Fly

    Animal products of all sorts were used in love potions all across the world. According to History Answers, recipes called for:

    "sparrow heads, deer heart, the droppings of a stork, fat of a snake, brain of a sparrow, testicles of a donkey, bones from a left side of a toad which has been devoured by ants, blood and heart of a pigeon, and...bat’s blood in beer."

    The most popular animal used in potions was the Spanish Fly, or the Blister Beetle. Usage of Spanish Fly dates back to Hippocrates. According to Latin chroniclers, the ingredient was considered a powerful aphrodisiac, and was crushed and put into numerous potions, which were incredibly popular at the courts of Roman Emperor Augustus. However, Spanish Fly is actually quite dangerous, and can cause permanent kidney and liver damage.

    183 votes
  • 4
    136 VOTES

    Blood And Insects Were The 16th Century French Equivalent Of An Aphrodisiac

    It seems the more complicated the recipe, the more effective the results. One 17th century French potion required various love potions to contain a mixture of Spanish Fly, herbs, and menstrual blood.

    Spanish flies were considered a common aphrodisiac, used by women to create love potions for their husbands. Sometimes, if the potions were found to be ineffective, women would turn to simply eliminating their husbands so they could eventually remarry for love.

    136 votes
  • 5
    126 VOTES

    Drowning Lizards Occurred In Nigeria And The Philippines, With Differing Results

    One Nigerian recipe, according to Karl Fabricus, involved taking the neck of a lizard, mixing it with finger nails, umbilical cord remains, viper's blood, and witch's hair, and drinking it while it is still boiling hot.

    Lizards can also be used as an anti-love potion ingredient — when drowned in urine, and then mixed with wine. However, in the Philippines, the drowned lizard is used in love potions. Some Native American tribes used dried lizard, or lizard tails, and didn't require the lizard to be drowned in urine.

    126 votes
  • Worms, Bodily Fluids, And Fire Were Used By Women In Mexico
    Photo: Erwin Schoonderwaldt / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    120 VOTES

    Worms, Bodily Fluids, And Fire Were Used By Women In Mexico

    In 17th century Mexico, a fair amount of women were actually convicted for their use of love potions. They would acquire ingredients from indigenous people, and combine herbs, corn, milk, either fried or crushed worms, and bodily fluids.

    They would prepare the potion and then either rub it on a sleeping man's chest, sneak it into his food, or both. Some of these rituals even required the use of fire and smoke, the origins of which are thought to have come from Spain.

    120 votes