Throughout history, the promise of love-in-a-bottle has worked its magic on generations: from Pliny the Elder (who prescribed various gruesome concoctions including hyena eyes as aphrodisiacs) to modern day Africa, where love potions are still sold on the open market.
The Byzantines used to bake cakes made with donkey milk and honey to give to newly married couples. In Europe, a concoction called “Spanish Fly” is still popular– a toxic substance made from ground-up beetles.
There’s little proof any of these so-called love potions or aphrodisiacs actually work, but that hasn’t stopped them making their way into literature, art and music.
The most famous is of course Donizetti’s charming rural comedy, The Elixir of Love, where the travelling larrikin Dulcamara peddles a love potion to the hapless, lovesick Nemorino. Nemorino seeks the elixir of Queen Isolde (more on her in a second) to win the heart of his beloved Adina. The quack Dulcamara sells him a bottle of cheap wine, but Nemorino believes in its power.
Love potions were popular in many cultures in the past and are still commonly used in regions such as Zimbabwe, where traditional healers sell their happiness-in-a-bottle for $40 to $70.
The herbs in some love potion recipes do have real physical effects related to romance—they can produce excitement, euphoria, or simply a pleasant scent that may be enchanting to the opposite sex. Some ingredients will churn your stomach, and not in that butterflies-in-your-stomach, I’m-in-love kind of way.
In almost every religion or ancient philosophy you can think of there is a Saint, God, or Goddess devoted to love. In Egypt there is Hathor, in Greece there’s Aphrodite, and in America there’s Kim Kardashian. (That was a joke.) Some of the first love spells sprung from rituals honoring these deities, during which their help was called upon to bring about love, faithfulness, or fertility. Throughout the years these spells have transitioned from sacred acts performed in earnest privacy, or small groups of likeminded spiritualists, to something that every corner of the internet has a recipe for, even WikiHow, which has a love spell that starts off with cleaning your bathroom.
So do love potions work? I live, work and exist in a realm of the psychic empathic arena, so from my perspective YES a love potion does have the ability to work. That does not mean every love potion is real or made with sincere intentions. If you want to purchase a love potion from someone I advise to purchase a reasonable amount and test it out before making a big leap without any proof that it can be effective.