Opinion: Sex energy

POSTED: 11/1/11 12:14 PM

We saw an ad somewhere for an energy drink that sells under the Playboy brand. The promise the ad radiates is as crude as it is, ehh, not very credible, or at least debatable. Ten hours of sex energy.

That made us wonder what the girls at Playboy put in those cans. Like all energy drink, Playboy’s pure energy relies heavily on sugars, caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng.

Comparing the Playboy drink with, say, Monster, confirms that both contain these ingredients.

Monster, it says in the can, “packs a vicious punch but has a smooth flavor you can really pound down.”

Playboy offers ten hours of sex energy (in the ad, not on the can). The Playboy can contains 10 ml more than the Monster can, but that does not explain why it has twenty percent more calories (120 against 100), 5 grams more sugars and 5 grams more carbs than Monster. It contains double the amount of vitamin B12, but it informs consumers at the same time that this represents 200 percent of the amount the human body needs every day. What’s the point?

Monster contains altogether 3.7 grams of taurine, ginseng and an energy-blend with among others caffeine, glucose and guarana; the Playboy energy-bled represents only 1.6 grams of the total content, while the can contains 10 ml more.

So where do those 10 hours of sex energy come from? (That’s what you wanted to know, right?). Well, as far as we have been able to establish, the only ingredient the Playboy-drink contains that Monster does not have is Horny Goat Weed Extract.

We did not know what Horny Goat Weed is (Playboy claims this is a herb), so we looked it up. This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:  Epimedium, also known as Rowdy Lamb Herb, Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat, Fairy Wings, Horny Goat Weed, or Yin Yang Huo (Chinese: 淫羊藿), is a genus of about 60 or more species of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Berberidaceae. The large majority are endemic to southern China, with further outposts in Europe, and central, southern and eastern Asia. Epimedium species are hardy perennials. The majority have four-petaled “spider-like” flowers in spring. Many are believed to be aphrodisiacs, particularly horny goat weed.”

Wikipedia also enlightened us about the history of horny goat weed as an aphrodisiac. According to legend, this property was discovered by a Chinese goat herder who noticed sexual activity in his flock after they ate the weed. It is sold as a health supplement; usually in raw herb, tablet, or capsule form and sometimes blended with other supplements. The over-exploitation of wild populations of Epimedium for use in traditional Chinese medicine is having potentially serious consequences for the long-term survival of several species, none of which is widely cultivated for medicinal purposes.

The “active ingredient” in Epimedium is icariin,[3] which can be found in standardized extracts from 5% up to 60% potent. Strengths above that are usually reserved for lab use.

Icariin is purported to work by increasing levels of nitric oxide, which relax smooth muscle. It has been demonstrated to relax rabbit penile tissue by nitric oxide and PDE-5 activity.[4] Other research has demonstrated that injections of Epimedium extract directly into the penis of the rat results in an increase in penile blood pressure.[5]

Like sildenafil (Viagra), icariin, the active compound in Epimedium, inhibits the activity of PDE-5. In vitro assays have demonstrated that icariin weakly inhibits PDE-5 with an IC50 of around 1 μM, while sildenafil has an IC50 of about 6.6 nM (.0066 μM) and vardenafil (Levitra) has an IC50 of about 0.7 nM (.0007 μM).[8] Measured differently, the EC50 of icariin is approximately 4.62 μM, while sildenafil’s is .42 μM. With the weak potency of Epimedium, and its unknown oral bioavailability, the amount of Epidemium extract necessary to have any effect is unclear from the literature.

A recently published Italian study modified icariin structurally and investigated a number of derivatives.[10] Inhibitory concentrations for PDE-5 close to sildenafil could be reached. Moreover, the most potent PDE-5 inhibitor of this series was also found to be a less potent inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-6 (PDE-6) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate-phosphodiesterase (cAMP-PDE), thus showing it to have more specificity for PDE-5 than sildenafil.

Epimedium has been shown to up-regulate genes associated with nitric oxide production and changes in adenosine/guanine monophosphate balance in ways that other PDE5 inhibitors do not. Epimedium may have potential to help sexual dysfunction and osteoporosis.

So now you know.


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