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.
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
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.