You may have heard of Spanish Fly – an aphrodisiac made infamous by Bill Cosby in a now-controversial stand-up routine from the 1960s.
Aside from limited scientific evidence as to whether it really works, it also has some horrific and sometimes fatal side effects.
Nevertheless, it’s still around even after all this time and has survived its shadowy reputation.
So what exactly is Spanish Fly and does it even work?
Spanish Fly has a reputation as an aphrodisiac. It comes in a variety of forms, either as pills, drops, or even as a drink.
But it’s not actually a fly; it’s not even exclusively from Spain. “Spanish Flies” are actually green blister beetles and can be found all over Eurasia. But the beetle itself isn’t as important as what it produces.
When people refer to Spanish Fly, they’re really talking about Cantharidin, a toxic blistering agent taken from the beetle.
It’s administered via drinks, pills, or drops and makes you feel hot and bothered – a feeling that used to be considered arousal, but now is known to be inflammation.
Today, Spanish Fly products rarely contain actual Cantharidin. Instead, the pills merely take the name and include herbal ingredients, and claiming results that benefit sexual function, erectile function, sexual performance, stamina, and even attraction.
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In short, no. While Spanish Fly products make a lot of promises, they tend to have limited evidence or results to back these up.
Instead, manufacturers take advantage of a famous reputation with little care for their consumers.
While other aphrodisiacs and herbal supplements have a variety of studies behind them that support their effectiveness, Spanish Fly pills do not.
If anything, studies tend to recommend against using Spanish Fly products due to the occasional use of Cantharidin.
In the wild, the male beetle gives a ‘nuptial gift’ of Cantharidin to the female when mating; by covering their eggs in this toxic substance, they give an added layer of protection from predators.
Historically, this same substance has been used as an aphrodisiac for over 2,000 years, since the time of Romans and even ancient Egyptians.
Given as a stimulant to initiate orgies with gladiators, improve sexual relationships between kings and queens, and even commit sexual blackmail by a Roman empress.
However, just because it’s been used throughout history does not mean it works well.
The main reason medical professionals insist against using Cantharidin is because of how dangerous a substance it is.
Not only is Cantharidin a dangerous ingredient, but Spanish Fly pills aren’t regulated by the FDA or an approved ingredient in Dietaray supplements.
As a result, you can’t know for sure what’s in them and how much of each ingredient is being used. There’s no standardized formula and each product comes with its own risks to be aware of.
Including Cantharidin comes with serious risks to your health.
There have been reports of seizures, mouth burning, cardiac abnormalities, nausea, and even dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). But that’s just the start of it.
Some of the worst risks and side effects of using Spanish Fly pills with Cantharidin include:
Blistering: This can include skin blisters, a burning sensation, itching, and changes in pigmentation of your skin cells.
Blood in saliva, vomit, and urine: Cantharidin is known to cause hematemesis (vomiting blood), gross hematuria (blood in urine), and even dysuria (pain while urinating).
Priapism: This refers to a long-lasting and extremely painful erection. Priapism is a medical emergency and, when left untreated, can cause severe damage to the penis.
Death: One instance of Cantharidin causing death was when it was famously used by the Marquis de Sade in 1772 when he mixed the substance with aniseed balls that he gave to prostitutes who later died.
More recently in England, a man mixed Cantharidin in coconut ice that he gave to two girls he hoped he would be able to have sex with; later, they both died.
If you have taken Spanish Fly, you should seek professional medical advice.
At the end of the day, Spanish Fly pills are far too dangerous for you to even try out of curiosity. But all’s not lost if you still want help boosting your libido and reinvigorating your sex life.
Instead of resorting to Spanish Fly and Cantharidin products, there are a range of alternatives you could try instead, including taking supplements and making adjustments to your lifestyle.
Although Spanish Fly pills are dangerous and all too often don’t do what they claim, the same doesn’t apply to all products in that category.
There are a number of aphrodisiac herbs that can have positive benefits on sexual dysfunction.
And to make things easier, there are a range of supplements available that have premium, effective formulae that contain a range of these herbs to help your sex life get back on track.
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Coming from high up in the mountains of Peru, Maca has been taking the world by storm due to its effectiveness in increasing men’s sex drives and boosting overall mood.
One study, in particular, found that a range of men from 21 to 56 years old all reported a noticeable increase in their sexual desire.
Maca is now used in the majority of male enhancement supplements you’ll come across, including Max Performer, simply due to how powerful and effective it is.
Also known as Asian Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng, or Panax Ginseng, Korean Red Ginseng is a plant that grows in various places throughout Asia.
Although it can interfere with a handful of medications and increase the effects of caffeine, Korean Red Ginseng has a lot of benefits to your sexual wellbeing.
Korean Red Ginseng is perhaps best known to help improve erectile dysfunction, as well as heightening feelings of alertness, preventing colds, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
A meta-analysis conducted in 2018 took into account 24 trials of Korean Red Ginseng, totaling 2,080 men suffering from erectile dysfunction.
Although this meta-analysis admitted more studies were needed, the conclusion was that the herb is undeniably effective in treating erectile dysfunction in the majority of cases.
Also known as Maidenhair, Ginkgo Biloba is a tree found in China that’s been growing for thousands of years, now the only survivor of an ancient group of plants.
Not only has it been used for a variety of uses in traditional Chinese medicine, but modern medicine also continues to use Ginkgo Biloba due to its efficacy. It contains powerful antioxidants, fights inflammation, and can help the brain in maintaining general wellbeing.
Crucially here, Ginkgo Biloba is powerful in relaxing muscle tissue and improving blood flow and circulation.
This is key in maintaining an erection, making this ingredient a vital component in treating erectile dysfunction. In fact, it has been shown to restore spontaneous erections even in men suffering from erectile dysfunction when caused by obstructed blood flow.
Tribulus Terrestris is an infamous bugbear amongst cyclists due to its ability to flatten bicycle tires, earning it the alternate name of Puncture Vine.
But Tribulus has been used as an aphrodisiac in a variety of cultures for centuries, able to be able to treat people with sexual problems and infertility.
Effective in both men and women, Tribulus can help improve both sexual desires as well as sexual pleasure and erectile issues.
One study noted significant improvements in erectile function, sex drive, and satisfaction when given a high enough dosage of 1500mg a day.
Choosing aphrodisiac herbs and supplements carefully to help boost and revitalize your sex life can be effective, but there’s much more you can do to help these have more of an impact.
By making a few additions or adjustments to your everyday lifestyle, your sex life can evolve and reignite sparks.
Although it can be a challenge to find time in our busy days, you can’t deny that exercise makes for better sex.
In numerous studies, exercise has been linked to improved erectile function and sexual desire.
As well as this, regular exercise can also aid in lowering impotence, causing firmer erections, and improving general sexual function.
That’s because whether you cycle, play football, or got the gym, exercise increases blood flow and improves stamina and energy levels, resulting in better confidence.
It can also help you have a better mood with lower stress levels due to its release of endorphins, helping you get in the mood and raise your libido.
Similarly to ensuring you exercise regularly, losing weight if you’re at all obese can also help with a range of sexual problems.
For example, high cholesterol and insulin resistance can affect sexual pleasure, performance, and libido.
In fact, 30% of obese people aiming to lose weight do so due to problems with their sex drive, sexual function, and performance.
Overweight men in particular tend to suffer more often from erectile dysfunction, which only goes to exacerbate issues surrounding anxiety and poor sexual performance.
However, losing even just 10 pounds can improve confidence as well as stimulate sex hormones. Changing to a healthier diet can also help blood flow to reduce erectile problems.
Though it used to look sexy in those old black and white films, smoking’s changed. It’s no longer seen as cool or sexy – if anything, it has a damaging effect on your sex life.
Although people frequently smoke in order to relieve feelings of stress, research shows that ironically smoking can increase feelings of anxiety and stress, contributing to a reduction in overall sex drive. It can also affect testosterone and estrogen levels in both men and women.
However, quitting smoking can help. Since nicotine causes blood vessels to contract, by quitting smoking you can improve blood flow for stronger erections and more intense orgasms.
Smoking can also impact your lung capacity, but you can recover lung capacity by up to 10% in the first 9 months of quitting for improved stamina.
Summer loving is more than just a song from Grease.
There’s a scientific reason why people tend to have more sex in the spring and summer months.
Just half an hour of exposure to sunlight can increase testosterone, sexual desire, and even triple sexual satisfaction.
This is all boosted because of an improved mood thanks to Vitamin D to help regulate serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
Additionally, sunshine tends to result in people wearing fewer clothes outside, sparking more frequent thoughts of sex.
When you feel stressed, your body immediately jumps into the famous ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
With this comes an increased heart and breathing rate, as well as higher blood pressure.
Since these functions are prioritized, non-essential functions like sex drive are instead diminished.
Stress releases hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine which further decrease sex drive and libido.
In order to reduce stress, take time in the day to relax; engage in some exercise, go for a walk, or meditate to reduce your stress levels.
A massage between you and your partner can do wonders. While it reduces levels of stress and its hormone cortisol, it can also increase pleasure hormones, serotonin, and dopamine.
It can also increase the intimacy and sexuality felt between you and your partner, not only helping each other destress but also acting as foreplay.
A healthy balanced lifestyle combines a variety of the above tips, resulting in improved mental, physical, and sexual health and wellbeing.
Ensure you get out in the sunshine to exercise, eat healthily and stop damaging habits like binge eating or smoking, and take time to destress for both you and your partner.
You’ll soon feel the effects of all of these by an improvement in sexual desire and performance.
Communication is key – we all know that. And when it comes to communicating with your partner about sex, it’s more than just about consent.
As well as you know your partner, we’re all different and there are bound to be things you might not know about them.
Understand what excites and turns them on, and ask what parts of the body they enjoy being touched and caressed.
Everyone has different erogenous zones and it’s important to stimulate them to heighten sexual function and arousal.
If you want an extra helping hand to revitalize your sex life, there’s a range of options available to you.
You can make some adjustments to your lifestyle and take some herbal supplements… but make sure to avoid Spanish Fly products.
As well as being dangerous, they won’t be nearly as effective as the much safer alternatives.
In short, no. Spanish Fly products are not regulated so we don’t know their ingredients.
Some contain Cantharidin, a toxic substance that can cause a range of dangerous side effects, including death.
Spanish Fly products are not drugs prescribed by medical professionals. Some contain Cantharidin, a dangerous toxin, but most contain nothing but herbs and ineffective ingredients.
Whereas some Spanish Fly products are ineffective, others contain Cantharidin, a toxic substance from blister beetles. Cantharidin can have a range of horrific side effects, including priapism and even death.
Though they’re fairly well-known, you shouldn’t ignore their dubious and shady reputation.
Despite Spanish Fly’s historical roots, most products are just an ineffective waste of money, and those that do contain Cantharidin are actively dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
However, there are a range of adjustments you can make to your lifestyle to get your body in the best position it can be in by itself.
But you can get another helping hand with much safer alternatives to Spanish Fly products.