Better Lovin' Through Biochemistry?
Hope Springs Eternal continued...
Consider the following list, selected from a web site called
"Johan's Guide to Aphrodisiacs": alcohol, animal genitalia, animal
products, chan su, fruits and nuts, ginkgo, muira puma, onions, oysters,
perfume, pine nuts, plants, snake blood, Spanish fly, spices, vegetables.
One of the ingredients listed above, a South American herbal
derivative called muira puma, has been looked at by a Jacques Waynberg, MD, a
French sexologist, who reported in two separate studies that the drug appears
to increase libido in about 62% of men who had complained of lack of
But for most other alleged aphrodisiacs, those who have lost
that lovin' feelin' have to rely on anecdote, rumor, folklore, or superstition,
and that can be dangerous to the user or to the others. Spanish fly, for
example, a legendary aphrodisiac said to be have been used by the Marquis de
Sade prior to an orgy, is a toxic compound made from the dried and crushed
bodies of blister beetles found in Southern Europe.
In Asian folklore, rhino horns, bear gallbladders, and various
parts of the tiger, including the bones, are highly prized for their
invigorating qualities, putting the animals at risk for extinction due to
Some purported aphrodisiacs are not only safe but downright
tasty, including pine nuts (an ingredient in classic Genoese pesto), onions,
and ginkgo nuts (used in Asian cooking). Whether they tingle anything more than
the taste buds, however, is anybody's guess,
"The main problem that we have is that for anything we use
for any medical condition, and particularly in erectile dysfunction, the
placebo effect is enormous, and unless you have proper studies, you never
know," Morales says.
"I would always be suspicious of any product that is being
pushed, unless it has been well-defined chemically and there has been some
clinical work to demonstrate it," Rodriguez notes.
But as Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, director of the Rosenthal Center
for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Columbia University in New York,
points out, when it comes to such treatments, there are three categories:
proven, disproven, and unstudied.
"And the ones that are not studied may eventually be proven
or disproven," he says. "That doesn't mean they're no good and you
shouldn't necessarily use them. It depends on what the options are, and if you
have no other options or can't take drugs or don't want surgery, [alternative
medicines] may be an option. It's the start of a new era, and I think it's kind