Yin yang huo
What it is: This Chinese herb translates to “horny goat weed,” and is frequently the main ingredient in those sketchy behind-the-counter boner pills at bodegas. The plant itself is deciduous and found throughout Asia and in parts of the Mediterranean. Appropriately, its leaves are heart-shaped, and its four-petaled flowers can be white, pink, red, or yellow. Yin yang huo also goes by the name(s): barrenwort, bishop's hat, fairy wings, horny goat weed, rowdy lamb herb, and randy beef grass. Pick your favorite.
How it works: Yin yang huo contains icariin, a kind of PDE5 inhibitor that coaxes blood flow into smooth muscle. Sildenafil, the active ingredient of Viagra, is also a PDE5 inhibitor, and works precisely the same way as horny goat weed, it's just a whole lot more potent. As it happens, the original purpose of Viagra’s clinical trials were to test its viability as a heart medication by increasing cardiovascular blood flow. Presumably, someone was brave enough to stand up and confess that the medication seemed to have another effect.
How to grow it: Horny goat weed prefers a cool climate and shade, and grows anywhere from 6in to a foot (the plant, not you). Its roots demand richness, so add a few inches of peat moss or compost on top of the soil. Keep it moist, and trim away any leaves that crumple during the colder months.
What it is: A Nigerian native, this 1-3ft-high, yellow-bulbed shrub has been a folk medicine favorite for centuries in Africa and the Middle East.
How it works: Ingestion of this plant raises the concentration of testosterone in the blood -- so much that your balls actually swell. That makes fadogia agrestis supplements popular among athletes and bodybuilders who use steroids. The compounds in fadogia agrestis are similar to the pituitary-produced luteinizing hormone (LH), which stimulates Leydig cells, the male body’s chief maker of testosterone. In women, the release of LH induces ovulation. Fadogia agrestis is thought to be most effective as an aphrodisiac for men suffering from low testosterone levels.
How to grow it: Fadogia agrestis needs minimal watering and loamy soil. The plant will do great if kept indoors on a windowsill with good light. To get it in you, boil the stems in your tea.
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John Marshall is a writer based in New York. His hobbies include shooting pool, neglecting house cacti, and writing short biographies about himself. Follow him down alleyways, or @brunodionmarsh.