SAO PAOLO, 20 Oct 2021:
“Honey, honey, come buy love honey,” call out street vendors on March 25 Street, a popular shopping street in the heart of the Brazilian city of São Paulo.
The vendors are selling a sexual stimulant – which has gained popularity among young people in Brazil – despite it being banned by health authorities, which have labelled it a health hazard.
The melzinho do amor or honey of love is a newcomer on the popular street famous for selling illegal items – including fake soccer jerseys, TV pirating devices and now, an illegal sexual enhancing medicine.
“It has become a vice,” says 21-year old street vendor, Kaue Roosevelt, who has set up a stall made with a cardboard box – where he sells different brands of the ‘love honey.’
The ‘honey’ is sold in small packages similar to sugar sachets with golden letters reading ‘Power Honey’ or ‘Vital Honey’ depending on the brand.
One sachet costs between 25 and 30 reais (US$4.50 and US$5.30) and for those who want to bulk buy, a packet of twelve costs 150 reais, Kaue said.
“Our special formula gives you the vitality and performance you need for energy-filled days and nights,” reads the description of Power Honey.
Despite the different names, all brands have one thing in common: they market themselves as 100% natural.
The ingredients listed on the box include ginseng, caviar extract, maca, ginger, Malaysian honey, cinnamon, Tongkat Ali and coffee – all seemingly natural ingredients.
But an analysis by the Analytical Toxicology Laboratory of the State University of Campinas revealed that not all ingredients had been listed.
Four out of the six samples analysed showed the presence of two synthetic drugs typically used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction including sildenafil – the active ingredient in viagra – and tadalafil.
Professor José Luiz Costa, co-ordinator of the study, said these substances pose a “dangerous” health risk when used without a medical prescription and can cause heart problems, alterations in blood pressure, severe headaches and priapism, which consists of a prolonged and very painful erection.
But despite Brazilian health authorities in May this year banning its marketing, distribution, importation and use, young people continue to buy the so-called ‘sexual enhancer’ and March 25 Street continues to boom with sales.
Igor da Silva is 23-years-old and said he had used the product five times already. “I felt a very strong excitement. I was surprised.” – EFE