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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : March 2000 : Endangered species may be saved with sexual stimulants

Endangered species may be saved with sexual stimulants

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 this drug.

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 enhance gratification.

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, NC 27717-2027.

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 readers.

Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site: on the network.




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