Love, ideally, can act as the perfect aphrodisiac in the sense that it can increase libido(sexual desire), pleasure and the proper functioning of male and female sexual organs. But any time something relies on a combination of circumstances, life’s variations will often produce something less than ideal. If you’re looking to make money and maybe even help people out at the same time, you cannot bottle love. So what can you do? You can take advantage of the fact that for millennia, many cultures have believed that certain natural substances out there can be ingested and act as aphrodisiacs. If the problem is psychological, as long as there’s a strong belief that the substance will work, it will be effective for some people. In other words you’re not relying on some external chemical compound’s ability to enter the body and interact with physiology, but on the body’s own compounds. It’s the placebo effect, which has been shown to be a non-negligent factor in dealing with blood pressure, pain, sleep disorders, etc.
But the problem is there are hundreds of other substances out there that are marketed as love enhancers. How do you make your product stand out? What if you laced the honey with known drugs proven to treat erectile dysfunction? To lower costs, given that you’re not revealing the honey’s hidden contents on the label, you could rely on the jackpot effect—that is, add varying amounts of the drug in different containers . Those who ingest enough will certainly feel something; the rest may benefit from the placebo effect anyway. Bottom line is that from the word of mouth of those who do get aroused, the news that your “natural” product works will mushroom everywhere. Meanwhile, given that the honey is categorized as a food or dietary supplement, the hidden drugs will not be subject to the same approval process and quality standards as prescribed medications. More short-term advantages and benefits to you as a seller, right?
So why not try selling honey as a love potion? It’s a supersaturated solution with only about 18% water. The rest is mostly four sugars, but it also contains about 175 other compounds and minerals, including amino acids, other organic acids, vitamins, enzymes, phenolic compounds and selenium. People who see honey’s impressive list of ingredients on the internet and who want to believe that it can be an aphrodisiac might think there’s bound to be something in there that will be effective. Besides, they’ll know it’s natural and become prey to a powerful marketing tool.
In reality, this illegal strategy has been used and thankfully exposed last year. In July 2022, the FDA in the United States issued warning letters to four companies (Pleasure Products USA, MKS Enterprise, Shopaax.com and Thirsty Run LLC/US Royal Honey LLC). They illegally sold tainted honey-based products (X Rated Honey for Men, Vital Honey, Royal Honey for Him/Her among others) on both obscure websites and on those of Amazon and Walmart. FDA chemists found that product samples contained unlisted active drug ingredients, including those found in Cialis (tadalafil) and Viagra (sildenafil). One of the sensible reasons the FDA intervened is that these drugs have to be prescribed by a doctor, who will make sure that the patient requesting them is not taking medications that contain nitrates. Angina patients, for example, who are on isosorbide dinitrate (or mononitrate) cannot take Viagra or Cialis. Otherwise tadalafil or sildenafil can combine with nitrates to lower blood pressure to dangerously low levels.
It’s one of many examples where the path of least resistance is not the wisest choice for sellers, as tempting as it may be.
US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Warns Four Companies for Selling Tainted Honey-based Products with Hidden Active Drug Ingredients. July 12, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-four-companies-selling-tainted-honey-based-products-hidden-active-drug-ingredients
Saling, Joseph. What is the Placebo Effect? WebMD https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/what-is-the-placebo-effect
Cianciosi, Danila and al. Phenolic Compounds in Honey and Their Associated Health Benefits: A Review Molecules. 2018 Sep; 23(9): 2322. https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fmolecules23092322
Melnyk, John P. Marcone , Massimo F. Aphrodisiacs from plant and animal sources—A review of current scientific literature. Food Research International. Volume 44, Issue 4, May 2011, Pages 840-850. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2011.02.043