One of my editorial standards is that I don’t accept advertising for penis pills. As a category, these products are at best fraudulent, and at worst, deadly. Safety aside, there’s no such thing as a penis pill that’s (a) legal for sale over the internet and (b) proven effective. But even if there were such a mythical pill, how would you know if its mythical active ingredient was actually in the pill that arrived in your mailbox?

Plus, don’t let’s put safety aside as I just rhetorically did. A lot of stuff sold for boner-stiffening is actively dangerous. Last month Slate printed a nice article about the “cane toad” products that were in vogue for awhile:

Please don’t eat toad toxins to get an erection.

Toad poisonings are rare but life-threatening. Men and women have died from heart attacks after eating herbal supplements called Chan Su, or aphrodisiacs called Rockhard or Love Stone. These products all contain the dried, toxic secretions of Asiatic or cane toads. Similarly, people have been sickened and even died after drinking toad soup, eating toad eggs, or swallowing live toads to win a bet.

Poisoning and death probably weren’t on the minds of the men who bought “hard, dark brown” squares of aphrodisiacs from New York City street vendors. Between 1993 and 1995, at least six men fell ill and four died from heart failure caused by the aphrodisiacs’ active ingredients: toxic bufadienolides. These toad toxins were also responsible for the death of a middle-aged American in 2003 after he consumed three “sex pills.” And they were the same toxins that led to an Indian man’s weeklong hospitalization in 2011, after he ate five to six toads over the course of “an eventful morning.”

It’s hard to blame the toads for these casualties. To protect themselves against predators like dogs and snakes, the cane toad has evolved the ability to secrete toxins from its skin and the parotid gland behind its ears. This “viscous white fluid” is a stew of chemicals that induces convulsions, vomiting, and even death in would-be predators. Even though this chemical stew can reportedly cause priapism — a painful, persistent erection — it also contains toxic bufadienolides, which poison the heart.

There’s no boner-killer that kills boners as thoroughly as a heart attack. Verbum sapienti satis.

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