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Cinnamon Might Give You a Boner

Emphasis on ‘might’

The smell of cinnamon is intimately connected to Christmas, which apparently means you should expect a chub all season long. A 2014 study found that the mere scent of cinnamon increases blood flow to the penis by 20 percent. The initial reasoning isn’t totally outlandish, either:

“The odors could induce a Pavlovian conditioned response reminding subjects of their sexual partners or their favorite foods. Among persons raised in the United States, odors of baked goods are most apt to induce a state called olfactory-evoked recall. Possibly, odors in the current study evoked a nostalgic recall with an associated positive mood state that affected penile blood flow. Or the odors may simply be relaxing. In a condition of reduced anxiety, inhibitions may be removed and thus penile blood flow increased.”

But can this possibly be true — and if so, is a hefty whiff of cinnamon a viable alternative to Viagra? Urologist and infertility specialist Jamin Brahmbhatt has his doubts: “There is little to no evidence to suggest smelling or taking cinnamon in oral form immediately improves erections,” Brahmbhatt emphasizes, arguing that the above study is very small (the researchers examined the effects of odors on only 31 men).

It’s possible that cinnamon may help your erections later in life, since numerous lab studies have found cinnamon to reduce blood sugar and harmful LDL cholesterol, which help preserve the penile arteries (especially in people with diabetes) that are essential to inducing erections. But these findings, too, are controversial: “The American Diabetes Association doesn’t recommend daily cinnamon, because there aren’t standards for how much cinnamon helps you receive these benefits,” Brahmbhatt notes.

Bummer.

All in all, Brahmbhatt advises against relying on cinnamon if you’re after a stiffer stiffy. “If the smell of cinnamon makes you more aroused, great — invest in some cinnamon candles,” he says. “But for most men, the benefits may come in the future due to better controlled sugars and cholesterol. So guys, stick with what’s proven to help today and tomorrow: A well-balanced diet and exercise.”

Sorry, my Cinnabon-loving dudes.