Friday, February 08, 2002

'Passion potion' arrives for valentines

By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's blue. It's bubbly. It's touted as a “romance enhancer.”

        And it's coming to Lazarus in time for Valentine's Day.

        Nexcite, formerly called Niagra until understandable legal hassles arose because of the name's similarity to the drug Viagra, is a carbonated concoction of South American herbs that its U.S. distributor, Lari Williams, credits with jump-starting her libido 20 minutes after downing it in January 2001.

        She was so high on its effectiveness, she contacted the Swedish manufacturer the next day to become sole distributor in the United States of the energy drink with herbs “long thought to have aphrodisiac properties.”

        The fruit-flavored blue passion potion contains no alcohol. It does contain soda pop ingredients, plus 30 mg of caffeine (about as much as a cup of coffee) and herbs — extracts of ginseng, guarana, mate, schizandra and damiana — described as “caffeine-like stimulants,” by Dr. Cathy Creger Rosenbaum, Tri-Health pharmacist, clinical effectiveness and safety officer.

        The trouble with herb-based claims is “they don't have to be substantiated because herbs are not regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration),” Dr. Rosenbaum says. “They are dietary supplements, regulated like foods, but they can sometimes act like drugs.”

        In 1989, the FDA declared that there is no scientific proof that any over-the-counter aphrodisiacs work to treat sexual dysfunction. The FDA recognizes Nexcite as a nutritional supplement, according to the Nexcite USA Web site.

        “We're not promoting it as something to cure someone's lack of desire, but as something to help two people in love enjoy each other after a long day,” says Debbie Gilstrap, an assistant to Ms. Williams. “It's best used with two adults already in love in a romantic setting.”

        Most of the herbs mentioned should be avoided by pregnant and breast-feeding women, and the bottle carries that warning. But, “we worry about interaction with prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and other herbs,” Dr. Rosenbaum says.

        Before you pop the top on a little blue bottle of bubbly, check with your doctor, ask about drug and herb interactions and allergies.

        And, remember, “The mind is the most potent aphrodisiac there is,” says John Renner, founder of the Consumer Health Information Research Institute.

        Lari Williams, the U.S. Nexcite distributor, is at Lazarus in Kenwood Towne Centre 5-7 p.m. today. Lazarus will carry four packs of the 6-ounce bottles and a 24-ounce bottle for $20 each.

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