My Disappointing Experience With $60 Gwyneth Paltrow-Approved Sex Dust
Inside the body of every law-abiding American is a freewheelin' skeptical anarchist who thinks he or she can singlehandedly take down the pharmaceutical industry by pursuing holistic, wannabe health guru-endorsed miracle cures. These miracle tinctures and potions promise to solve every ailment from allergies to erotic misfortune while also ridding bodies of unknown "toxins."
Enter Moon Juice's Sex Dust, a $60 powder promising to satisfy the needs of every unsure, upset, and unsexy person out there. It smells like dirt, tastes like old cinnamon, and resembles heroin -- or, at least, the heroin I've seen in movies. Oh, and it's supposed to get you horny.
Endorsed by hippie-dippie celebrities along the lines of Gwyneth Paltrow, Shailene Woodley, Rooney Mara, Rachel McAdams, and Zoë Kravitz, Sex Dust contains a plethora of ancient Chinese herbs and plants and claims to "send waves of blood to all the right places" by "supporting brain chemistry [and] hormone production."
The problem that Sex Dust faces -- along with myriad other holistic cures -- is that it's uncontrolled, unregulated, and cannot guarantee what it promises on the label. So, why do people keep buying this stuff? I tried some for myself and got to the bottom of this dusty mystery.
What's in this stuff?
Raise your hand if you've ever heard of the following ingredients: ho shou wu, cistanche, cacao, shilajit, maca, epimedium, schisandra, organic stevia. Yeah, didn't think so.
Most of these are traditional Chinese herbs that -- in some cases -- have been used for centuries to cure any variety of ailments. Schisandra comes from the berry of a climbing vine, native to Northeast China and parts of Russia, and is traditionally used as a sexual tonic.
Epimedium is a pungent ornamental herb found in Asia and the Mediterranean that got its nickname, "horny goat weed," after a herder noticed his goats becoming more sexually active after eating the plant. Cistanche supposedly strengthens male erections and can intensify the orgasms in both men and women.
And stevia? Well, that just makes everything taste sweet. If you spend even a little bit of time searching for this stuff online, one could conclude that this dust and its active ingredients are potentially helpful and practically harmless.
I put a couple of spoonfuls of the stuff into my tea every morning for a few weeks to see if anything would actually happen to me.
So, why are people so skeptical?
For one thing, none of the above ingredients are approved by the FDA.
"The products throw a lot of Chinese medicinal products together for which the evidence is primarily anecdotal," Daniel Commane, a human nutrition expert at the University of Reading, told WIRED.
Not only are these ingredients not approved, but the few number of studies that record the benefits of homeopathic remedies show that there actually is no conclusive evidence indicating any of the stuff you buy from GNC or Target actually works.
"Our brains are too fallible... it's human to believe the unbelievable."
"Most people don't even have it clear in their head of what alternative or holistic medicine is. It's all code words for unproven, unscientific, non-evidence-based," says author Guy Harrison, who's won awards from the WHO on health reporting. "They fall outside the realm of medical sciences. The reason medical science works -- why people go to hospitals and get better -- is because the medicine and treatments have gone through the gauntlet of the scientific process. They've done studies, large sample sizes, double-blind studies. What we know now is that people are crazy... we can't trust ourselves when it comes to looking at a product on the shelves or trusting a friend or family member. Our brains are too fallible... it's human to believe the unbelievable. That's why the scientific process is so important."
So, it doesn't work?
Yes and no... but you probably shouldn't take it. As Daniel Commane said, a lot of the listed effects of these herbs are anecdotal. This, however, causes the placebo effect, which could actually give a man or woman the libido rush they're looking for. That's not a good long-term solution, though, especially if you're on different medications.
Since holistic medications don't go through the rigorous testing all FDA-approved medicines go through, there's really no telling how an unmeasured dose of mysterious herbs will affect you -- let alone two. The label on Sex Dust suggests "doubling your dose"... don't do that.
You don't even want to consider taking this stuff if you're on antidepressants.
Of course, I've had my fair share of experiences with holistic drugs and pseudo-medicines, but I've come to conclude that the effects I've felt from these pills and powders were mild at best. The only remedy that's ever really worked from me is St. John's wort, but you can't be on that if you're on certain medications.
This is the case for a multitude of holistic drugs... take ginkgo biloba, for example, an herb that's anecdotally been reported to increase attention and concentration. You don't even want to consider taking this stuff if you're on antidepressants, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center:
"Taking ginkgo along with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) antidepressants -- including fluoxetin (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and escitalopram (Lexapro) -- may cause serotonin syndrome. This condition is characterized by rigidity, tachycardia (fast heart rate), hyperthermia (high body temperature), restlessness, and diaphoresis (sweating). Ginkgo may enhance the effects (both good and bad) of antidepressant medications known as MAOIs, such as phenelzine (Nardil)."
Plus, if you haven't heard of the woman who sells this stuff -- Amanda Chantal Bacon -- I suggest you look her up and gauge her legitimacy from her insane diet. Bacon's daily diet consists of some of the ingredients in Sex Dust and costs roughly $700 to pull off... plus, she's not a licensed doctor. Obviously.
Your mind is probably playing tricks on you
What would you do if you went to the doctor's office and got slapped with a $500 bill for the visit, followed by the $44 charge for one pill of Viagra? Let's say you're walking away from the pharmacy and see a big bottle of maca powder -- which you've read increases the libido -- being sold for $20. It's an attractive notion to think that your erectile dysfunction can be cured through bypassing Big Pharma and taking matters into your own hands.
"The placebo effect is mind-blowing," says Guy Harrison, "you can even know that a product is fake and the act of taking a pill can actually give you a positive effect. It's incredible how the mind is so powerful. When it comes to sex, we are so easily influenced and steered and excited. That's the ultimate frontier -- the human mind can be turbocharged based on nothing but a belief. It's like rhino horn being sold around the world... it’s made of keratin. It doesn't work, but people buy it."
Harrison goes on to say that a lot of the herbal remedies sold at GNC and Target contain only trace amounts of the actual herbs listed on their bottles.
There's literally no indicator of the amount of the ingredients in Sex Dust, meaning that most of this stuff could be stevia. It wouldn't be surprising, as it tastes like pure sugar.
There are better paths to better sex
There's no problem with Viagra -- unless you have heart problems, of course. The fact that drugs like this have been through a tons of tests by professionals instantly puts it in a class above stuff like Sex Dust. Doctors and scientists have tested it time and time again and know the risks associated.
Loss of libido and ED have become things that no longer need to be swept under the rug and talked about in a hushed whisper. We have doctors and psychologists who go to college for this sort of thing and will figure out why your sex drive is low or non-existent.
Sometimes, all you need to do is exercise and eat better -- the point is, there are people out there who will help you get better. People who don't need to spend $700 on a day of food.
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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and relies on totally normal goat blood and newt's eye to achieve an erection.