Most people have exceedingly erroneous ideas about magical medicines that will influence the other sex and give vigor.

David H. Keller, M.D.

The advertising pages of magazines of a certain type are filled with offerings of various proprietary medicines, foods and appliances guaranteed to stimulate the faltering biological function, and to restore new vigor to those men who have become physically incapable.

In any field of commercial life the total sales can be estimated by the amount spent in advertising. If this principle holds good for these biological panaceas, then millions of dollars must be spent yearly by men for medicines to increase their intimate physical prowess. As far as real value is concerned or as actual benefit is derived, every dollar spent in this direction is a dollar wasted.

An aphrodisiac is some agent used by mankind to stimulate the biological functions. It need not be a drug or a food-it may be simply an impression received by any of the special senses-(it may be even a sound beating, in the type of pervert called masochist) -but, whatever it is, the effect produced is more often mental than physical. This is really the main idea back of all the patent medicines. If a man pays out real money for even bread pills, and has faith in them, that faith may act as a tonic, if he is still able to respond to a tonic.

So, in a broad sense, any impression, creating a desire for physical union, is an aphrodisiac; and it appears that at present the human race is living in a world surrounded by such impressions. The pictures that we see at the cinema, the magazines sold at newsstands, the dresses of the women with whom one comes in contact, the modern standards of free conversations, the plays on Broadway, the daily tabloids, the close contact of bodies in subways and elevators, the drinking of alcoholic beverages, the eating of highly-spiced foods in unnecessary amounts-in fact, much of our everyday life stimulates biological desire.

It may be that much of this stimulation is normal and a prerequisite for creating the desire of marriage, and hereby the survival of the race. To that extent, it may be necessary. In the past depression, when it was every man for himself, some subtle love-potion might have been necessary, in our struggle for mere existence, to remind us of the necessity for sex, and love, for mating and procreation (producing children). Fortunately, the majority of such stimulations come to us naturally, almost unsought and often without price.

The normal human being who has wisely used his body, needs no aphrodisiacs other than those that come his way as easily as the sunshine and the warm breezes of summer. Hunger for food creates a desire; hunger for air causes a repetition of respiratory breathing, cold makes clothing necessary, while heat brings a desire for lighter covering. A normal man does not have to spend money for drugs to tell him when to eat or to put on an overcoat. Similarly, a normal man can go through all the decades of adult existence and be perfectly happy without spending a moment's thought or a dollar of money on the matter of aphrodisiacs.

But, with the worn-out, promiscuous individual the problem is different. First comes over-indulgence ; then satiety; and then a gradually-developing impotence or inability to exercise the sexual powers. Nothing frightens the ignorant more than the so-called "loss of manhood"; they feel that it is the first and the greatest step towards an early grave. The greater the worry, the more pronounced is the biological neurasthenia (weakness of nerves and brain.) The more they despair, the harder is their struggle t:o recall the physical ability of youth. While the greatest benefit would be derived from complete rest, they struggle all the harder to prove themselves that they are still men. Grasping at every straw, they spend their money for every new nostrum they see advertised. Unfortunately, nothing helps; because they fail to include the greatest of all medicines, complete rest.

In the early days of electricity, a Frenchman brought over to England an electrical bed. It was an elegant couch, with many bright wires running above it and, with them, securely placed on four glass globes to act as nonconductors. The bed, the room, and the mattress were supposed to be surcharged with electricity that would enter the body of the man sleeping on it and give him the strength of Hercules and the biological power of Jove. No matter to what degree a men was incapable, he was told he could use that bed one night and procreate a son on the body of his partner. The price per night was 500 pounds, about $2,500. The bed was to remain in England only a certain number of nights. Needless to say, it was well occupied. Every man was either satisfied or was ashamed to say that he was not; and the French fraud returned to his home, months before any of the victims could tell whether they were to become parents or not.

This is an example of the fraud behind all aphrodisiacs. Today they exist by the dozen: electrical belts, vacuum apparatus, rubber splints, vibrators, violet rays; they all have behind them simply the false hope that, if something is done to the human body, something will happen. They are all physiologically wrong, and, at the best, are simply goads to the jaded horses who is trying to pull the burden to the top of the hill and be alive when he reaches it. The proper treatment for that tired horse is to take his harness off and let him rest, instead of stimulating him with whip and spur.

Medical aphrodisiacs can be divided into two classes: first, those that are inert, composed of harm less substances, which, while they do no harm, are equally unable to do any good. Frequently, such pills are coated with gilt or tinsel; because gold and silver are supposed to be potent biological remedies. A man taking such pills by the hundred suffers no harm except to his pocketbook. Failure of one brand to act simply leads him to another.

The other group comprises combinations of drugs that, taken in excess, are powerful poisons.

Foremost among the agents used for this purpose is the vegetable alkaloid strychnine-a stimulant in small amounts, though a well-known deadly poison in quantities. Another alkaloid, similar in nature and source, is brucine. Atropine is also given, and ergotin (much used also in female treatment, for its effects on the womb). Cocaine has been used, until it fell into such disrepute as it now incurs, for its habit-forming qualities. In Italy, quinine was much favored.

Cantharides ("Spanish fly") is spoken of by the uneducated, and half-educated, as a sure inspirer of biological power; it is a corrosive poison, which blisters even the skin. Phosphorus, also a powerful poison, was often prescribed ; while phosphates and hypophosphites are still in general use for many types of fatigued conditions. Red pepper and ginger are also stimulants.

Alcohol has been noted from the first for its power, not only to remove inhibitions (hesitation for mental or moral reasons) but for its spur to biological activity. Shakespeare's Porter said (in Macbeth) :

"It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance."

-which gives a good idea of its worth in this connection.

Drugs, like arsenic or strychnine, may indeed whip the jaded appetite, but their end results are more deadly than the condition that they are supposed to cure. Those, acting on the genito-urinary system, are irritants, excreted through the urine. Given in large amounts, they inflame from the kidneys down to the urinary canal and, while discharges of matter may result, they are signs of bad health and dangerous in character rather than normal. The irritation may end in hemorrhage, suppression of urine and death.

The situation resolves itself into a simple summary. Aphrodisiacs that are harmless are worthless; those that are potent are desperately dangerous. Let the buyer beware ! He buys at his own risk.

There is just one word of advice to be given to the man who feels the need of an aphrodisiac. He should go to a physician who understands humanity, tell him his story, and take his advice. Money so spent will be well spent and, if the advice is followed, benefit may be derived. The tired horse will gain a rest, and, once rested, may never become tired again, provided he is properly cared for. Time and money, spent in education and a better understanding of the physiological abilities and needs of the human body, will perform miracles a million times more wonderful than any aphrodisiac invented by the shrewdest advertising quack of any nation.