A love potion (Latin: poculum amatorium)[1][better source needed] is a magical liquid which supposedly causes the drinker to develop feelings of love towards the person who served it. Another common term to describe the potion, philtre, is thought to have originated from the ancient Greek term philtron ('love charm'), via the French word philtre.[citation needed]

The Love Potion (1903) by Evelyn de Morgan

The love potion motif occurs in literature, mainly in fairy tales, and in paintings, drama, music and mythology.[2][better source needed]

In the Middle Ages, extracts from nightshades were used as hallucinogens, and to make supposed love potions and flying ointments. Such plants may have included belladonna, angel's trumpets, jimsonweed, black henbane, European scopolia or autumn mandrake, which contain alkaloids (atropine and scopolamine, which are hallucinogenic in higher doses) characterized by a narrow therapeutic index.[3]

Some attempts to create love potions have led to overdose or death[4][5] where the preparations were not standardized for the content of potent compounds.[3]

Other alleged aphrodisiacs include Spanish fly, lizard necks, flowers, mashed worms, sacramental bread, and "sweaty cakes" (made from human hair, glandular excretions, skin and blood).[6]

See also



  1. ^ Crumbie, Laurence. "The Typicality of Apuleius' Witches" (PDF). Exeter.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  2. ^ "love-potion". Vocabulary.com. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  3. ^ a b Maurer, Hans. "Scopolamine – its role in clinical and forensic toxicology" (PDF). Slonic.net. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-03. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  4. ^ "Administering A Love Potion". The British Medical Journal. 2 (666): 407. 1873. ISSN 0007-1447. JSTOR 25235548.
  5. ^ Wills, Matthew (2019-02-13). "What's in a Love Potion?". JSTOR Daily. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  6. ^ "Spanish fly, holy bread and mashed worms: history's weirdest aphrodisiacs and love potions". HistoryExtra. Retrieved 2023-02-12.