Better Lovin' Through Biochemistry?
Romance in a Bottle? continued...
Although the people who sell it are barred by FDA regulations
from making any extravagant claims, the fact that they're pushing it as
"Romance in a Bottle" is a strong hint that they want their customers
to believe they're buying a six-pack of burnin' love. In other words, an
Just to get technical for a minute, it should be noted here
that there's a clinical distinction between aphrodisiacs, which are reputed to
enhance libido and contribute to sexual excitement, and sexual stimulants,
which provide a physiologic boost that may in turn may make it possible to have
better sex -- or even sex at all. Niagara and tiger testicles fall under the
category of aphrodisiac. Viagra and the spicy mixture cooked up by the Yequana
are examples of sexual stimulants.
The Yequana potion has at least one respected scientist
convinced that "natural Viagras" are out there waiting to be found, but
how do you how do you tell a real over-the-counter aphrodisiac or stimulant (if
they even exist) from sex-fool's gold?
"The problem is that there are so many things that are
advertised out there," says Alvaro Morales, MD, professor and chairman of
urology at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. "I recently saw at my
barber's [in a magazine] an advertisement for some sort of a cream. They don't
say what it is, and they say 'it's just like testosterone,' but on the other
hand they say 'this doesn't contain testosterone.' So what is it?"
Morales tells WebMD he knows of three herbals reputed to have
sexual stimulation properties, but that only one -- yohimbine -- appears to
have any merit. He says that ginkgo biloba and ginseng are also alleged to be
sexual stimulants, "but from what I've read in the literature, neither is
Unlike most other nonprescription products, yohimbine, derived
from an African tree, has been extensively studied, and appears to have a
modest effect on erectile function in some men by increasing the flow of blood
into the penis and decreasing outflow that can cause the organ to lose
Morales says he believes yohimbine is effective, but in just a
small number of patients. "In patients with severe erectile dysfunction
it's a totally useless drug, but patients with modest problems ... tend to
respond better," he says.
Hope Springs Eternal
When it comes to the question of aphrodisiacs, however, we're
on a lot shakier scientific ground. The clinical evidence for the existence of
true aphrodisiacs (apart from human hormones) is about as convincing as the
proof that Elvis still lives. That hasn't stopped people from trying,
Typing the word "aphrodisiac" into a web search results
in close to 70,000 hits -- a large number of which point to web pages where
some huckster somewhere is trying to make a buck off the nookie challenged