By Joe & Teresa Graedon The People's Pharmacy
The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News (Stuart, FL)
March 7, 2000
- Viagra might be the best friend rhinos have ever had. Tigers,
seals and black bears could also benefit from the popularity of
It's not that the animals need sexual-performance enhancers. But
the availability and effectiveness of Viagra might reduce the demand
for exotic impotence remedies such as rhinoceros horn, seal penis
or bear gallbladder.
For thousands of years men have pursued sexual stimulants. In their
quest for aphrodisiacs, humans have tried crocodile kidneys, truffles,
oysters, artichokes, asparagus, ginseng, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
In Elizabethan England, brothel owners offered customers prunes
so their performance could keep pace with their passion.
Spanish fly was another legendary aphrodisiac. According to locker
room mythology, this insect extract turned almost any woman into
a nymphomaniac. The truth is quite different. The active ingredient
in Spanish fly is used in medicine to remove recalcitrant warts.
Taken orally, it causes extreme irritation to digestive and urinary
tracts. Sexual stimulation does not occur, but vomiting, diarrhea,
stomach pain and shock might result.
Despite past disappointments, pharmaceutical researchers seem determined
to develop true aphrodisiacs. The success of Viagra for performance
has opened the doors to research on human desire.
Dutch scientists recently reported a preliminary study showing
a significant increase in sexual lust and genital responsiveness
in women three to four hours after taking low doses of testosterone
under the tongue. The formulation they used is not available in
the United States.
Physicians have been prescribing testosterone in combination with
estrogen (Estratest) for postmenopausal women, but the hazards of
long-term exposure to oral testosterone remain unclear. Testosterone
patches are also under investigation.
European physicians are prescribing a compound that combines weak
estrogenic activity with testosteronelike properties. Tibolone (Livial),
made by the Dutch company Organon, might improve libido while alleviating
hot flashes and preventing osteoporosis. It is not yet approved
in the United States.
Prostaglandin E1 has been used for years to counteract erection
problems. It is administered by injection into the penis as Caverject
or inserted into the urethra as a suppository (MUSE). Now researchers
are looking into its potential benefits as a cream or gel for both
men and women.
Many other medications are under development. The success of Viagra
has legitimized research into human sexuality. Not only are scientists
exploring other compounds that can reverse impotence, but they are
also investigating agents that might stimulate sexual desire and
We have prepared a new Guide to Treating Sexual Dysfunction especially
for readers of this column. Anyone who would like more information
on treatments for impotence and lack of desire may send $2 in check
or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped, self-addressed envelope
to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. P-3, P.O. Box 52027, Durham,
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate
in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Their newest
book is The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies
(St. Martin's Press). In their column, they answer letters from
Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their
Web site: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com
on the HealthCentral.com