Sex – Tantra and Kama Sutra
Francesca Gentille

Episode 64 - LUSCIOUS LOVE RITUALS & APHRODISIACS with Joy Nordenstrom

LUSCIOUS LOVE RITUALS & APHRODISIACS with Joy Nordenstrom, CEO of Joy of Romance, Inc. and Host of Intelligent Love: 411 for Men. Through classes, vodcasts and individual coaching Joy teaches individuals how to create their own passionate, thriving relationships.

In this episode, Joy Nordenstrom invites us to explore the richness of romance with food and ritual. Listen and discover the scientific building blocks that make up the chemistry of love. Learn which foods and sensual indulgences lower stress, heighten the senses, encourage focus on our partner and increase energy and endurance. Celebrate the how and why aphrodisiacs exist and work to bring more passion into our relationships.



Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.

Francesca Gentille: Welcome to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. I am your host, Francesca Gentille. With me today is Joy Nordenstrom. Joy is delicious and nutritious.

She is the founder and CEO of The Joy of Romance. The mission is to create passionate and thriving relationships in our lives. And she's also the host of Intelligent Love 411 for Men, helping men be the best they can be in a relationship from the inside out.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Joy for several years and teaching with her, and I've always learned so much. I am delighted to bring her here to you and deepen our skill sets with her today.

Joy Nordenstrom: By both combining love rituals with aphrodisiacs and smell is one of the most important senses for jogging memory. When your partner first comes in, what are they going to see in the environment? Are there candles? Is it dimly lighted? How is the presentation of the champagne? Is there going to be pomegranate seeds in the base of it or a strawberry? And hearing, what music is going to really lower the stress of your partner and bring her into that relaxing mood or head into that mood?

Francesca Gentille: Welcome, Joy.

Joy Nordenstrom: Thank you, Francesca. It's such a pleasure to finally be here with you.

Francesca Gentille: It has been a little while to bring this all together. We've had technical difficulties. We've had little illnesses; different things happening. Humanity has happened, and yet the power of love perseveres.

Joy Nordenstrom: That means that now is the right time for the right people to be listening.

Francesca Gentille: Exactly. Exactly. Welcome to our listeners. Joy has so many skills, and one of the things that I love about her is that she is that researcher, that studier and the researcher who goes out and finds the scientific data, the substantive information that our minds long for, that we can deepen our practices.

Today we are going to be talking about one of her beautiful skills which is around love rituals and aphrodisiacs, and Joy is on the forefront of the cutting edge of all of this. What are you discovering that you want to share with us?

Joy Nordenstrom: Well, first I think a lot of people have questions around whether or not aphrodisiacs really do exist. I just wanted to first put forth the definition and three categories so that you understand what it is that I mean when I say aphrodisiac.

An aphrodisiac is an agent that increases sexual desire and will increase your behaviors that make sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. That's a pretty broad description. When I teach, there are three different categories of aphrodisiacs that I bring into play.

The first category happens even before any food or beverage hits your mouth. It's about the environment. It's opening the door and smelling the food cooking. It's coming up and seeing the table set and seeing your beloved. It's all of the aromas that are coming from the food, from, maybe, the scented candles that are around the place. It's fully engaging all of your senses. As soon as you're mindful you're there a hundred percent, your endorphins start flowing. Once your endorphins start flowing, your dopamine starts increasing. Those are two really important chemicals that flow.

Moving on from there then, the second category are food and beverages that when they hit your system you get an immediate effect on your body. Within the first half hour you are feeling that food.

The third category are those foods and beverages and minerals that need to be in your system so that when you go into a situation where you want to get the most out of aphrodisiacs they are in your body. And you are able to achieve peak performance because they are in your body.

The things that you are looking for when you are going into a wonderful dinner with your beloved and trying to make it as aphrodisiac properties as much as possible come out. You want to lower your stress, to be relaxed, to have relaxing music going on. You want to heighten your senses so everything like the dopamine brings in. All of your senses really rise with dopamine and norepinephrine.

You want to really be focused on your partner. You want to make sure your serotonin level has dropped a little bit, and you want to have energy and endurance to be able to last the entire night.

Francesca Gentille: Sounds delicious.

Joy Nordenstrom: [Laughs] It is.

Francesca Gentille: What I am hearing you say is that the body is designed to really give us a journey of pleasure and intimacy with our beloved and that there are ways when we become more aware of how, literally, the mechanics or the science of this works.

There are ways that we can increase the probability that it will be a beautiful, long-lasting intimate night. If we don't know these things, even with the best of intentions we can end up sabotaging our well-being, our sense of relaxation, the building blocks of what bring us together.

Joy Nordenstrom: That is so true. Say, it's raining. Sometimes, when it's raining we just want to go home and cuddle up and snuggle and watch a movie. Our bodies might send us in the direction of eating macaroni and cheese or having a lot of bread because you just want that snuggle property, like the cuddling to go on. That will bring your levels of serotonin up.

If you want the night to go on for a long time and have a lot of energy and have a lot of fun and passion, what you want to do is understand the need to start the night with proteins. When protein hits your system first, something - it's really called tyrosine. Tyrosine gives you the ability to be able to process things like dopamine and norepinephrine, lowering of your serotonin.

Tryptophan which is something that we hear a lot about with Thanksgiving with turkey actually comes from eating carbohydrates and sugars. If tryptophan hits your system before tyrosine does, you've started the downward - like getting really comfortable, slowing down of your system and an increase in serotonin.

Having the knowledge that you want protein first that can also be one of those immediate hit aphrodisiacs that I talked about is alcohol. Alcohol, one glass of wine or hard alcohol for a woman is going to affect her a lot differently than it does a gentleman. Once she has her first drink if she hasn't had any other food, she gets a hit of testosterone into her system.

What that does is makes her a little bit randy, a little bit excited. It lowers her stress a little bit and really starts putting her into the mood. That's a good way to have that hit before you get into the proteins and then build from there. Wait off on your sugars and your carbohydrates until dessert.

Francesca Gentille: And is it different for men?

Joy Nordenstrom: When they have alcohol, it's not going to affect them as much because they already have so much testosterone in their system. But, both men and women definitely want to not go into your carbohydrates but go into protein first.

Francesca Gentille: So, not a beer because beer has lots of carbohydrates. Maybe a little wine, sharing a glass of wine together and then going for the proteins rather than the sweets or the breads. Although we often start when we are out to dinner, it often starts with that bread basket. So, avoiding the bread basket, maybe, ordering an hors d'oeuvre that's more protein based.

Joy Nordenstrom: One of the classic appetizers that I start with when I create something called The Aphrodisiac Affair Dinner Party is a faux bruschetta. There's this cheese that is very interesting called halloumi cheese. It's Greek and ultra pasteurized, and it's the most interesting thing. You can grill the cheese or pan fry it, and it doesn't change its shape.

Francesca Gentille: How do you spell that?

Joy Nordenstrom: Halloumi, h-a-l-l-o-u-m-i. It often comes in a package around where the feta cheese is. It has a little bit of a brine on it, and you wash it off. It's sheep and goat's milk together, and it has this salty flavor to it and a really interesting texture. But, the fact that you can grill it is just really unique. And so, I'll do a variety of different toppings on top of that. It's just a good way to keep the bread out of it.

Francesca Gentille: If you're in, you can start to create something really delicious. If you're out, look for something a little bit more meat oriented. I love that you're having us work with the body. There's nothing more depressing than being with your beloved, and then suddenly you fall asleep or they fall asleep.

What do you think about staying a little hungry? I've often found that if I eat too much, it doesn't matter almost what I eat, I'll end up feeling a sense of slowness or lethargy. If I stay a little bit more empty, it almost feels like it keeps my system revving a little bit more.

Joy Nordenstrom: You could do that or also if you know that particular night is going to be a night that you guys get to spend some quality time together, throughout the day have a lot of little snacks, little meals. Bring the carrot sticks out or just have a lot of good nutritional snacks throughout the day so that you keep your energy level up.

A lot of times we get so busy during the day that we forget to eat or we eat something that's not good for us. Then, when we get home and finally sit down and we're being able to relax a little bit and have a bite to eat, all of our energy has now gone into our stomach because we've been starving ourselves all day.

It could be that you could keep your energy up if you happen to be in that state by the end of the day and realize you haven't eaten very much, just have little bite sized pieces and have a taste sensation along the way. But, if you do know that's going to be an evening that you want to keep your energy up, throughout the day keep your proteins, keep your fruits and vegetables up. Keep the sugars and the carbohydrates away even throughout the day.

Francesca Gentille: I think I am getting a little plan in my mind here for, maybe, tomorrow or the next day. I want to know more about how we bring in all those senses and how we create something, that sense of a multilayered aphrodisiac evening after we come back from a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors. I encourage our listeners always to support our sponsors because that keeps shows like this on the air for you. We'll be right back.

Announcer: Listen to Sex, Love and Intimacy, a podcast providing weekly audio workshops for your pleasure and connection on

Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex with delicious Joy Nordenstrom who is the host of Intelligent Love 411 for Men, helping men be the best they can be in relationships from the inside out and also founder and CEO of The Joy of Romance.

We're talking about the aphrodisiac evening and wanted to bring in more of that multilevel sense, so not the food yet and all the rest. What are some of the other senses that we would bring in and how?

Joy Nordenstrom: One thing, even before the night occurs, whoever is planning it, if you're planning it as a couple or an individual trying to surprise your beloved, you start getting these wonderful endorphins coursing through your veins as soon as you start planning; what is the meal going to look like? What is the table going to look like? Am I going to get flowers? Are there going to be rose petals that are going to lead up to the bed?

When your partner first comes in, what are they going to see in the environment? Are there candles? Is it dimly lighted? How is the presentation of the champagne? Is there going to be pomegranate seeds in the base of it or a strawberry? And hearing, what music will lower the stress of your partner and bring her into that relaxing mood or head into that mood? What sweet nothings are you going to prepare to start whispering into their ear?

How are you going to lead the conversation to really bring out some daring and unexpected ways to end the evening? Tasting that first taste of champagne in your mouth and the bubbles and feeling the texture of, maybe, that strawberry that was soaking inside of the champagne and that burst of smell that comes out when you first bite into it.

The texture of the different - like the champagne, what is the weight of that? It's engaging everything and really becoming fully present in that evening and know that that memory of that night is going to be able to linger the more present that you are in that moment.

Francesca Gentille: You know, when you talk about that, one of the things that immediately comes up with my inner lazy and rebellious nature, "Oh my goodness, that sounds like so much work". Now, if it's being given to me it sounds delicious, that someone would love me so much they would clean and decorate the house and put out the rose petals and bring forward the champagne and the strawberries. I love that idea.

When it's me and I am the one that's going to do it, sometimes I drag my little feet and think, "Oh, but that's so much trouble" but there's something really amazing when we take the trouble. There's something about long-term relationships that if I want to have one it's going to take a certain amount of creative investment.

Joy Nordenstrom: That's right. One of the things that I teach is moving from the attraction phase where when you first get with somebody you are giving love in every which way. You're actually, chemically addicted to them. You've got these bursts of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. You are always focused on them. Whether you are with them or not, you are always thinking about them.

When they move into what is called the attachment phase it's a different chemical cocktail that's going on inside of you. You really go into the bonding chemicals of vasopressin and oxytocin, and your testosterone level has dropped a little bit. That's really to bond you to be together for a long time; however, we feel like: oh, everything has changed, not knowing that that's just the normal course of how the ebb and flow of a relationship goes.

At that time what you want to do, though, is bring back in those wonderful spikes of dopamine and norepinephrine through doing things that are completely outside the box. Don't go to the same restaurant. Don't go to the same movie theater. Don't do the same things on date night. Make sure that you bring in the element of surprise, excitement, being a little bit daring and really enjoy the situation that you have. It's a creative endeavor that you have to be able to speak your partner's love language and to be able to bring out their best.

It takes maintenance. I wouldn’t call it work. You're in love and you want this to last a lifetime. Maintenance, you want the passion and the thriving nature of that relationship to stay with you, and that means a little bit of maintenance, a little bit of creativity, understanding how best to speak your partner's love.

Francesca Gentille: And really becoming, it sounds like, an artist at love. I think we all want to be great lovers and understanding that there is a certain artistry that's involved when we want to be that fabulous lover for another human being.

What I heard you earlier, as we start to plan and create these enticing mysterious plots for our beloved about what is going to happen tonight, that starts to shift our own body chemistry, that anticipation or that excitement.

Joy Nordenstrom: Yes. You start to get this excitement, and your mind is going and planning all the different things. You're connecting with it even though they're not in the room. They are not a part of it. They feel you. You guys are one on many different levels. I think that they can start something; oh, something good is going to happen on Friday night. I can feel it and they get excited, too, just by knowing that your mood is elevated. You are excited. You are looking at them with that twinkle in your eye, like "Yeah, you don't what I've got planned for you, baby" [laughs]. It can be, like you said, as an artist. You are painting this beautiful canvas. It's your love as a canvas, and you get to paint it and create the stories and weave the memories to make it last.

That's another thing. Memories, I really think memories are a wonderful foundation. When we hit those bumps in the road, if you have good memories and things that can jog your memory about those memories, let's say, take some photographs that night or bring a poem into play there really means a lot to both of you or the particular music.

Having something that can trigger those memories in you or a particular smell. You can have that one candle there that really smells like, "Oh, I remember when we made love and I was smelling that". You just are able to connect with them and have a great foundation of these loving memories together. It's a wonderful way to make a passionate and thriving relationship.

Francesca Gentille: We build those memories that we can return to in some of the challenging times. Have you noticed there is a difference between what would be a beautiful or romantic or ideal evening for men and what would be that for women? Or is it less about male-female and more about really, maybe, doing a little bit of research into what are my partner's yummy triggers? What are those things that will most delight and entice them?

Joy Nordenstrom: I think it does have a lot to do with the individual, but I would like to say that men, in general, their brain chemistry is such that visual is very big for them. They are going to react a lot more to things that are visual, so wearing the sexy lingerie, having the beautiful environment. It's going to leave a larger impression. Once they orgasm, they are going to have a lot more vasopressin and oxytocin hitting their system. That, in turn, kind of burns the memory of that particular time into their minds, so keep it visual for the guys and also learning what your partner's love language is.

Dr. Gary Chapman has five different love languages, and if you know what it is - if it's acts of service or quality time, physical touch gets words of affirmation. Really incorporate that into the night for your partner whichever their love language is and make sure that that is not left out. So, those words of affirmation; is there a particular poem that your beloved would love you to recite for them? Are you going to leave a card on the table for them and start the evening with them opening that? There's a lot to take into play. You'll learn what makes your partner tick.

Just recently, one of my friends said that he learned. He's been married for 18 years, and he just learned that his beloved loves erotica read to her while she is in a bubble bath. He was like, "Who would have known?" So, he had a new ritual.

Francesca Gentille: That discovery - sometimes, we don't even know ourselves. You mentioned for men it's often, not always but often, visual. What is it more often for women?

Joy Nordenstrom: I think it really depends on the individual. Words of affirmation, I know, are one of your favorites. I'm sure those rituals around words would be very important for you.

Speaking of that, I had a client recently. She is off the charts on words of affirmation. After 18 years she realized her husband gets a zero in that category so they were having a little bit of a challenge meeting on that love language. I said, "You know, let's make it easy for him. Let's work with him."

So, what she did is she created these cards of different things that she would love to hear him say to her, like 'you look fabulous today' or 'thank you so much for what you did with the kids' or 'that was a great dinner'. Just whatever it was that she wanted to hear.

She laminated those cards and put them on their altar for their relationship in their bedroom, and every day that he walks by he shuffles the cards. And he pulls out the one that he feels that day and puts it on their little altar so she knows that he's really thinking about her that day.

Francesca Gentille: What a brilliant idea. I want to hear more of your brilliant ideas. You are so creative with all of this when we come back from a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors.

Announcer: Listen to Expanded Lovemaking, a weekly Internet audio program and podcast for men and women on Personal Life Media. Get advanced techniques that expand your lovemaking bliss.

Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra bringing you the soul of sex with the delicious Joy Nordenstrom. Joy, we have a few minutes left. I could spend hours with you, and I love spending hours with you.

What would you like to gift us with from your vast knowledge in the few minutes that we have?

Joy Nordenstrom: Well, I love combining love rituals with aphrodisiacs, and smell is one of the most important senses for jogging memory. There was this study done in Germany about a year and a half ago where participants were playing a computerized game. It was kind of like the memory game, you are matching cards. Every time they got a correct hit, there was a rose essential oil that was blasted into the room. Then, the participants stayed overnight and once they had that REM sleep that half of the participants had the rose scent pumped into their room.

The next day they went to play the game again, and those who had the rose into their room at night now scored about 15 per cent better when they were playing the game. What the scientists were able to see was that positive recognition with a smell is going to increase your performance, increase your memory.

And so, the ritual that I turned in to giving to my clients and people I work with was when you are with your partner, spend a day or two working on finding a scent that's just your guy's scent. So, is there a candle that you guys find that doesn't have memories from past partners or anything like that? Is there a particular incense?

Then, when you are going to have a wonderful, romantic evening burn that particular candle or light that particular incense or have that particular smell. Every time keep that going. If somebody comes home from work, let's say, a few hours early and they've already gotten into the mood and are excited their partner is coming home, they light the candle right before their partner comes home. Even before their partner knows consciously that that candle is lighted, it will hit their brain with the smell and start triggering those wonderful memories and putting them into the mood.

Francesca Gentille: That's so wonderful. It reminds me of the ancient text around love rituals and love spells where they would often encourage the person. If you want this person to fall in love with you, you would leave a little handkerchief - when we used to use handkerchiefs - you would leave a handkerchief tucked into their pillow with, not only your cologne or your perfume but a little bit of, maybe, your sweat from your underarms or from your genital area.

When that person would sleep with this, then they would keep thinking of you. It was before, of course, scientists studied it but that same concept that there are ways that we can very subtly start to bond someone with us.

Joy Nordenstrom: That's how into your partner, let's say, they were going away on a trip, to spray your perfume on a letter that you've written and tucked into a pocket in one of their jackets or something like that. It's really powerful for somebody to be able to get the energy and the memories from that smell.

Francesca Gentille: Or cologne or a t-shirt. I want to give equal time to the men as well as the women. These are the kinds of things that I think all of us really long to be seen. We long to be heard. We long to be thought of. Having that little surprise remembrance when we are traveling, male or female, if we open up our suitcase and find either something that smells like our beloved or that's a particularly good one; or a note even though I'm the worst person I love to smell one. A note or a picture, the surprise factor as well as the fact that someone thought enough about us to sneak that in is so delicious.

I love the story about your client who discovered that his wife loved erotica in the bubble bath. There's that sense of being willing to keep discovering with our partner over time.

Joy Nordenstrom: Because we change. We're perpetually changing so that's a good way to change and to bring in new rituals every once in a while. Again, thinking outside the box don't always do the same thing. Think of something daring, something unique and fun to play with.

Francesca Gentille: One of the things that you point to in terms of always changing, for those of our listening audience, there are particular changes in our life. There is andropause for men and menopause, perimenopause, for women. There are the children leaving the house. There's having a child to begin with. There is a family illness or a death in the family like I've had.

There are certain key transition points that literally affect our body chemistry, affect how we look at the world. Those can be times that shatter a relationship. You've just brought forward this idea that it could be a time to say, "So much has changed this past year. I feel like we're new people. I feel like we don't know one another and let's explore again. Let's discover again what we might like now or how our bodies respond to touch or to scent now." 

Joy Nordenstrom: That's beautiful to be able to allow your partner to change. I think people get scared sometimes or have fear come into play. "You're not like you used to be." Well, no, you should continue growing in love together. You should continue evolving in love and not having stagnancy there but shaking it up by doing new things and having fun with one another.

Francesca Gentille: Then, it can be a little shaky at times. One of my clients said that he's been married to the same - what did he say? - he said that he had four different wives in the last 20 years, and they were all his wife because every few years she would shift in some profound way, and it would actually shake up the relationship. Then, out of that challenge they would say, "Who are we now" and create the relationship newly again and let it be exciting.

Thank you for that wonderful reminder of that opportunity that loving someone over time can give us and that as that Chinese ideogram can be: in crisis is opportunity as well as challenge.

Joy, I just want to thank you so much for joining us here today. If people want to find out more about you and have you craft a personal leverage for them, how would they do that?

Joy Nordenstrom: They can contact me at [email protected], and they can also go onto iTunes and subscribe to Intelligent Love just to learn more about the tidbits that I offer there.

Francesca Gentille: Do you create events as well as private coaching?

Joy Nordenstrom: Yes, I do. As I mentioned, the Aphrodisiac Affair Dinner Parties are really incredibly yummy evenings where I help the host. I bring in a top chef and help the host create a night of aphrodisiacs, a wonderful environment and inspire them throughout the night to tell them about what the different properties are of the foods that are entering their system and drinks.

I also teach classes and coach and coming up - actually, just recently, we finished doing How to Create an Aphrodisiac Affair Dinner Party. It has a video and a manual so that guys can do this. It's much simpler. It has as many short techniques as possible to make it fun and to be able to bring out just a wonderful environment for your friends. So, check that out on my website for Joy of Romance.

Francesca Gentille: Thank you so much, Joy, for joining us, and thank you, our listening audience, for being people who are committed to the soul of sex and relationships. If you want to find out more about Joy, see her beautiful picture, get connected to her there, read the transcripts. Forward this to your friends and find out more about me at my bio and my private practice, you can do that at That's

Thank you for joining us in Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex.

Announcer: Find more great shows like this on