Men and women are largely mindful of their sex drive. In their quest for improved prowess in bed, many of them use aphrodisiacs or other related substances.
Such substances that seek to stimulate sex drive or stamina have been in existence for long, passed down from generation to generation. Although aphrodisiacs can be used by both sexes, their use is believed to be more common among men, particularly those with sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation….
Such substances that seek to stimulate sex drive or stamina have been in existence for long, passed down from generation to generation. Although aphrodisiacs can be used by both sexes, their use is believed to be more common among men, particularly those with sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
In Lagos, the situation is, however, no different from other places, as men continually strive to boost their sexual performance and gain some bragging rights, which could come handy during bar room banters with friends.
“There was a time that I asked around for where I could get a good aphrodisiac when a babe that I once dated boasted that I would not be able to handle her well (in bed),” recalled an accountant, who identified himself as Olufemi.
Although the essence is primarily is to contain sexual disorders, men without such disorders also sometimes take the substances to push themselves to the limit during sex.
Investigations also showed that a significant percentage of men take such substances for fun or to get high, since some of the herbal mixtures are prepared with alcohol.
For instance, Bode, who until recently was a fervent user of local aphrodisiacs, says that less than five per cent of the drugs actually do the job. He claims that herbalists sometimes visit sawmills to cut from logs of wood waiting to be sawn.
“Ordinary sawdust is what some of them (herbalists) go home with, in the name of finding herbs and backs of trees,” he said.
There are a number of roots and herbs that have become popular with buyers of locally made aphrodisiacs, particularly at motor parks, where they are sold by itinerant vendors on foot and in cars. Herbalists stationed in their shops also have aphrodisiacs available for prescription to customers.
Some of the popular ones include Ale, Afato, Paraga, Opa-ehin, Ogbolo, Tanko-tanko, Gboin-gboin, Jedi-jedi, Burantashi, Alomo Bitters and Osomo bitters.
Ramota, who hawks a herbal concoction popularly called ‘doctor’ by her customers, says many of her customers complain that pile (‘jedi-jedi’) is the cause of their poor sexual performance.
“Some of them have jedi-jedi because of the sweet things they eat; so once they take jedi-jedi herb, their system becomes cleaner and they are able to perform better in bed,” she declared in Yoruba.
Ramota argues that there is no effective orthodox medicine for pile, stressing that that is the reason for the huge customer base available for her products.
“Old, young, illiterate and educated people patronise me although my biggest customers are commercial motorists, okada riders (commercial motorcyclists) and artisans,” she added.
According to Ramota, business is particularly good for the industry during the Valentine season.
But in contrast to Ramota’s itinerant style, Sir Jimoh Herbal Centre in Ikeja comes across as more organised and functional. Inside his shop are layers of shelves, on which sit neatly packed fresh and dried leaves, along with different kinds of roots and herbs, twined around separately.
Mr. Yekini Abodunrin, who spoke on behalf of the shop owner, explained that they inherited the business from their parents. Abodunrin made a strong case for local herbal aphrodisiacs, saying, “People believe in their efficacy because their work is immediate”.
Based on that, Abodunrin claimed that alternative medicine practitioners have been contending with orthodox doctors in the race to win patients requiring treatment for sexual disorders such as low sperm count, watery sperm, low libido, weak erection, premature ejaculation and impotence. He also claimed that some of the disorders were the result of the consumption of excessive sugar and inorganic foods.
Abodunrin noted that purchasing herbal drugs from hawkers such as Ramota was unwise because such people might not be traceable should there be side effects to the drugs.
“Natural herbalists in shops are generally trained for it, so they give prescriptions depending on the complaints and will advise customers to follow the prescription,” he said.
Interestingly, the same quantity of ‘Ale’ herb that Ramota sells for N300 goes for N2000 at Sir Jimoh Herbal Centre.
A consultant urologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr. Habeeb Tijani, says that “aphrodisiacs have existed among all races and survived for ages, but the difference is the drugs.”
Tijani agreed that aphrodisiacs could work for persons whose sexual disorders are psychological, “but it will not work if it’s not psychological.”
He, however, warned against the indiscriminate use of aphrodisiacs, warning that it is “difficult to say which one is safe until it is analysed.”
He said, “A lot of them contain established components like testosterone and dopamine, which can increase blood pressure when you use inappropriate doses.”
He added that raising the level of testosterone in the body with aphrodisiacs to boost sex drive could affect fertility or even cause impotence on the long run. He said, “The brain gets used to getting the testosterone, so when you stop using the drug, the body fails to produce it.”
In his reaction, Consultant Family Physician, Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Dr. Gbolahan Abideen, also said that there was a limit to the role that aphrodisiacs can play in correcting sexual disorders.
For instance, Abideen said that sufferers would find aphrodisiacs useless in correcting premature ejaculation, which some studies have claimed to be affecting as many as one in three men.
“Aphrodisiacs only work to sustain erection and not delay ejaculation in an individual with premature ejaculation.
“The other bit is the unpredictable effect of the aphrodisiac on the heart and sometimes the kidney and liver. Tablet equivalents have been researched into and the side-effect or safety profile is well understood and this translates into the dosing.
“Unlike the local aphrodisiac, in which case, the dose is not scientifically determined, hence safety profile undetermined. Deaths from cardiac arrest have been recorded with these drugs,” he said.
Though Abodunrin argued that local herbalists now have prescriptions which are measured in shots, local herbs continue to receive knocks from orthodox medical practitioners.
A medical doctor at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Idris Durojaiye, described such traditional herbs as “unsafe.”
He noted that, unlike orthodox drugs and medicines, which are tested on different age brackets of people over many years before being certified for general use, traditional herbs are not put through such tests.
Although Durojaiye admitted that the traditional herbs could sometimes be potent, he, however, warned against their use, saying that they could lead to organ failure.
“The exact composition of the herbs is not known; they contain so many chemicals and substances which force the liver and the kidney to overwork in trying to break them down, and so this leads to organ failure,” he said.
He also added that the degree of active components in the herbs is not “documented,” so “it may work for 50 per cent of its users and not work for others. But the problem is that when the herbs fail, the users end up in the hospital, and we (orthodox doctors) are the ones to mop up the mess.”
Alcohol is regarded as a favourite alternative to aphrodisiacs.
Non-aphrodisiac substances such as alcohol, sometimes mixed with energy drinks, are also taken prior to sexual intercourse, to increase libido and performance.
A commercial transport operator, Mr. Tajudeen Ogunsanwo, admitted taking alcohol often before sex. Ogunsanwo described the act as beneficial, saying being tipsy calms his nerves during sex and prevents him from ejaculating early.
A consultant cardiologist at LUTH, Dr. Goke Ale, however, labelled alcohol as “cardio toxic.” He described the combination of alcohol and sex as ‘suicidal’.
“Alcohol without sex can kill someone with heart failure because it is poisonous to the heart, so why put additional pressure (on the heart)?” he asked.
Ale said that alcohol can actually cause sexual disinhibition in the user, which explains Ogunsanwo’s indulgence in it to suppress his nervousness.
“When you’re drunk, you’re freer. You are less inhibited or you are disinhibited,” he said, warning of its long term adverse effect on sexual performance.
“Alcohol alone can depress the function of the heart or cause abnormal rhythm of the heart because it has effects on the brain, heart, liver and blood vessels,” he added.
However, Abideen assured that seeking proper management of sexual disorders is better than resolving to alcohol, which could cause substance-induced erectile dysfunction. He added that “excessive alcohol consumption, drugs and nicotine can have a negative effect on how the penis functions.”
For instance, Abideen advised persons suffering from premature ejaculation to open up to their partners so that they could both see a doctor. He also advised partners to show understanding to sufferers, adding that being “non-supportive partners could impact negatively on a man’s ego and self-esteem, and consequently lead to anxiety, depression and eventually infidelity.”
He, however, identified the use of condoms, numbing creams and drugs as some of the ways by which premature ejaculation is managed, adding that the management of the condition is based on individual context.
The Acting Director, Special Duties, NAFDAC, Mr. Abubakar Jimoh, expressed disappointment with the trend, particularly with the influx of foreign aphrodisiacs with pornographic pictures.
He said, “We are aware of it as it’s prevalent now. There are some with outlandish and pornographic pictures used to advertise them; once you see the picture, it tells the story. Many of them in circulation are not registered in Nigeria and we are working to get them out of circulation.”
Jimoh, however, added that the category of alternative medicine generally hawked and sold out in cups, bottles and polythenes falls outside the scope of the organisation.
“The ones that are just concoctions that people mix together and distribute by the roadside cannot be categorised as drugs, so they don’t fall within our jurisdiction,” he said.
However, according to Jimoh, there is a group of processed alternative medicine that can be categorised as drugs, and so falls within NAFDAC’s jurisdiction. Some of them have NAFDAC seal. For instance, Alomo and Osomo bitters have NAFDAC numbers A1-8029 and A7-0267L, respectively.
Jimoh said, “The ones that are registered like Alomo are okay, but the counterfeited ones are not okay; even the makers have asked us to help out as their product has been counterfeited. But most of the drugs that we have registered are listed, in the sense that you can sell to the Nigerian public. NAFDAC has checked that it will not kill. But this is not the same as certifying the efficacy of the drugs; we have not been able to verify the efficacy of the drugs yet.”
According to him, there is an ongoing collaboration between the agency and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, which “has the competence to test the efficacy of those drugs.”
But in spite of warnings by medical practitioners that alternative medicine could be dangerous to health, some alternative medicine practitioners have dismissed such claims, calling it is a product of a threatened orthodox medicine.
Mrs. Fausat Ogundipe, an alternative medicine practitioner, said that such claims show that medical doctors are getting envious of the recent success of alternative medicine in the country.
She added that in her two decades of selling alternative medicine, none of her customers had died following their use of the drugs.
She said, “It’s not true what doctors say that our products are harmful. If they are harmful or not potent, then why do people continue to patronise us? Doctors are only jealous because more of their customers are patronising us and coming back to the roots.”
Another practitioner of alternative medicine, Lonpe Adepegba, said that the feedback she gets from her customers confirms its potency.
“What people tell me is that the drugs work well and they still come back for more. What my drug does is to cleanse the system and the sugar concentration in the body, so that the person can have a better erection,” she said of her aphrodisiac.
– Punch Ng