Erection concoction

A Malaysian plant is being overharvested for its aphrodisiac qualities.

Published February 14, 2001 8:43PM (EST)

Let's say you're a healthy male, on the verge of having sex in a bed somewhere in Malaysia. But you're fatigued, and your penis refuses to achieve an erection. It's floppy and shriveled, taunting you with its reluctance. Your partner is losing interest. Fortunately, you've come prepared for such a situation. You reach to the nightstand and open a container of Jungle King, the legendary "Malaysian ginseng" herbal drink made from the root of the Tongkat ali plant. You guzzle its contents, and within minutes the blood flushes to your penis and you're raging with libido. The evening becomes long and productive, and the woman instantly becomes pregnant.

But what you don't realize is that you've just helped contribute to the deforestation of the Malaysian jungle.

The Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia) translates to "Ali's walking stick" and is reputed to bestow a variety of powers on users, including improved mental and physical energy. But mostly, it's known as a potent aphrodisiac, increasing testosterone levels and sperm counts. A native plant of tropical rainforests in Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra, the root is now being processed into a drink additive, and the resulting liquid is sold at stores and roadside tea stalls, under brand names like Vicolli and Jungle King. Presumably, Malaysia is now teeming with boners.

An unfortunate side effect of this erection boom is that Malaysia's jungles are rapidly becoming depleted of Tongkat ali plants. If the trend continues, the plant could disappear, say national forestry officials.

"I'm trying to warn them that if we don't control it, they might find the supply gone. I'm trying to encourage them to grow the plant for their own use," Forestry Department Director-General Zul Mukhshar Mohamed Shaari told Reuters.

According to one local researcher, contrary to traditional beliefs, there is no evidence that Tongkat ali causes arousal in humans. Laboratory rats, however, become extremely excited and can't seem to get enough of the stuff.

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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