Aphrodisiac Warning Issued

ATLANTA (Associated Press - Nov 25 1989) -- Desire cost four men
their lives when they swallowed a purported aphrodisiac sold at
grocery stores and tobacco shops, the government said Friday.

The brown, rock-like substance, which includes dried toad
secretions and causes hallucinations, is supposed to be applied
to the genitals but wasn't labeled.

The would-be Romeos who ingested it began vomiting and their
hearts beat erratically, not from lust but from the love potion,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its weekly
report on the nation's health.

The substance is no longer legally available in this country,
but a spokesman for the federal Food and Drag Administration said
consumers should hear the "cautionary tale" about the four men
who died in New York.

"If you don't know what you're taking, it can get you into
trouble," said Herman Janiger of the FDA's New York district

The product was sold in New York City from 1993 through April
under the names "Stone," "LoveStone," "Black Stone," and "Rock
Hard," in containers without labels listing ingredients or
directions for use, said Lina Balluz, a CDC environmental health

Officials in Philadelphia, Miami, Tampa, North Carolina and
Virginia have reported seizing it as well, the CDC said.

The FDA banned its importation in April, and domestic
production would be difficult because it includes the dried skin
secretions of a toad not found in the United States, Janiger

An analysis found that the aphrodisiac contained an ingredient
similar to the prescription heart drug digoxin and
bufadienolides, a steroid that disrupts the heart's rhythm.

The same steroid is found in a traditional Chinese medication
called Chan Su and similar chemicals are present in teas made
from poisonous oleander and purple foxglove.

The FDA's move against the product made by Tsang Fook Tkee
Medicine Co. of Hong Kong was the first federal action against an
aphrodisiac, Janiger said.

There are no safe substances proven to have aphrodisiac
effects, although the belief that something works can be
powerful, Janiger said.

The best known aphrodisiac is Spanish fly, which consists of
powdered dried beetles and causes blistering when applied to the