Effects of Ginger on Disgust, Sexual Arousal, and Sexual Engagement: A Placebo-Controlled Experiment

J Sex Res. 2024 May;61(4):658-670. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2023.2175191. Epub 2023 Feb 21.


Sexual problems are common complaints across countries and cultures, and behavioral immune system theory suggests disgust plays an essential role in sexual functioning. The current study investigated 1) if disgust induced by sexual body fluids would reduce sexual arousal, reduce the likelihood of sexual engagement, and enhance disgust toward subsequent erotic stimuli, and 2) if the administration of ginger would affect these reactions. We administered either ginger or placebo pills to a sample of 247 participants (Mage = 21.59, SD = 2.52; 122 women) and asked them to complete either behavioral approach tasks with sexual body fluids or with neutral fluids. Next, participants viewed and responded to questions concerning erotic stimuli (nude and seminude pictures of opposite-sex models). As expected, the sexual body fluids tasks induced disgust. The elevated disgust induced by sexual body fluids tasks resulted in lower sexual arousal in women, whereas ginger consumption counteracted this inhibiting effect of disgust on sexual arousal. Disgust elicited by sexual body fluids also increased disgust toward the subsequent erotic stimuli. Ginger increased sexual arousal toward the erotic stimuli in both men and women who had completed the neutral fluids tasks. Findings provide further evidence of the role of disgust in sexual problems, and, importantly, that ginger may improve the sexual function of individuals via its sexual arousal-enhancing effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disgust*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Arousal*
  • Sexual Behavior* / psychology
  • Young Adult
  • Zingiber officinale*