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Better Lovin' Through Biochemistry?

Bio-Viagra?
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WebMD Feature

June 25, 2001 -- It probably won't be coming soon to a bar or urology clinic near you, but a cocktail of crushed termites, mashed ants, chili peppers, and fruits packs a Viagra-like wallop and could be a natural alternative to Pfizer's little blue pill as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, says a Cornell University plant biologist who personally vouches for the natural compound.

 

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On a trip to Venezuela, Eloy Rodriguez, PhD, was given some of the substance by his hosts to use as a spice for his food. "After I took a lot of it they looked at me with total surprise and said, 'You're going to need a doctor in the morning, because it's going to make your penis get very hard,' and they were absolutely correct. It was very powerful," says Rodriguez.

 

You don't need a prescription for the "bio-Viagra," but you do have to travel to the Amazon region of Venezuela and ask the women of the Yequana tribe to mix up a batch of it, he says.

 

"Every tribe in the Amazon has a substance, extract, or mixture that they will specifically tell you is used to stimulate erection. If you go to the Caribbean you'll find the same thing. It's been there since the beginning of time. I think that in earlier times, [stimulants] must have been very important, because being the king or the ruler in power you had to be sexually quite potent and be able to maintain it."

 

Back in their lab in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Rodriguez and colleagues performed a chemical analysis on the mysterious potion and found that it contains chemicals similar to those found in Viagra, as well as a healthy dose of testosterone, both of which might account for the compound's impressive action. The researchers are currently exploring plant derivatives from the Caribbean island of Dominica and from the Dominican Republic that are said to have similar properties to the Yequana mixture.

 

"I think as one does more serious chemical research, we're going to uncover 'natural' Viagras that might even be more potent than the one that has been made synthetically," Rodriguez says.

Romance in a Bottle?

The quest for sexual stimulants and aphrodisiacs is probably as old as the human race itself, with everything from crushed beetles, asparagus, oysters, rhino horn, ginkgo biloba, tiger testicles, and myriad other roots, potions, brews, herbs, and animal organs reputed to improve performance and/or enhance pleasure.

 

The latest craze is a Swedish soft drink called Niagara (get it?) that's been flying off the shelves wherever it can be found. The drink, part of a family of "energy beverages," is a fruit-flavored, blue-dyed concoction containing carbonated water and sugar spiked with the alleged herbal aphrodisiac damiana (reputed to be a plant estrogen), plus ginseng (a root commonly used in Chinese medicine), guarana (a stimulant similar to caffeine), maté (another stimulant), schizandra (a Chinese medicinal said to have aphrodisiac and stimulant properties), plus as much caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of coffee. The ingredients list alone is enough to get the heart racing.

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