advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Is There a Viagra Plant?
I hear that there's a common garden plant that has the same effects as Viagra. What is it, and is it safe to grow and use?
A
Answer (Published 10/15/2007)

The story of the "Viagra" plant comes from England and was an April fool's hoax published by the newspaper, The Independent. The story, which got lots of Internet mileage, goes like this: a 55-year-old furniture restorer who liked to make teas from different plants got an unexpected effect when he brewed up an infusion with blooms from winter-flowering heather. In its April 1, 2007 report The Independent quoted the fellow as saying that the effect was so immediate - and obvious - that he "had to stay in my potting shed for an hour or so before I could decently walk down the street."

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Relationships - Getting older doesn't have to mean less intimacy. Learn how to treat erectile dysfunction naturally, get communication tips, and more. Start your 14-day free trial of the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide today!

Of course, the discovery of an easy-to-grow, safe and natural form of Viagra would be major news and would generate huge headaches for drug manufacturers. The credible-sounding Independent story explained that the man who brewed the tea contacted the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh to ask what could have caused the unexpected reaction. A real botanist was quoted in the article as saying that hybrids of winter-flowering heather contain an analog of Viagra and that the most potent sources are forms of Erica carnea, an Alpine heather that grows in Britain and much of Europe. A convincing dialog, but it's not true.

The story went on, tongue-in-cheek, to describe a craze for winter-flowering heather throughout Britain and quoted a clerk in a garden center as saying that "men old enough to know better" have been fighting over limited supplies.

The article even gave a recipe: steep about 20 grams of the small flowers (less than an ounce) from the heather in 100 milliliters (about a half cup) of neat alcohol such as 80-proof vodka. But then there was a line that should have tipped off gullible readers (if the April 1st date didn't): the botanist added that confusion exists as to whether to drink the stuff or apply it locally.

The moral of the story is that the British take April Fools' Day seriously, so be skeptical of far-fetched news from the UK on April 1st.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here