As Valentine's Day approaches, men across the world are plotting how to make the women in their lives happy enough to drop their skirts and pantyhose. C'mon men, we women know what those roses and chocolates are really for. This year, consider adding durian. According to researchers in India, durian might just be the spice that makes for a romantically successful evening. Throw aside those flowers and soothing music tracks. The urban legend is real: durian is an aphrodisiac.
The research took place in India, which is apparently suffering from an infertility epidemic. According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) the sperm count of a normal Indian adult male has plummeted from an estimated 60 million squirmers per ml three decades ago to only 20 million, probably due to the scary sounding "xenobiotics emanating from chemical industries."
Although some people (like me) might argue that a decrease in India's reproduction rate might actually be beneficial to the overcrowded country and the already overpopulated world, it's devastating to all those couples trying and failing to start a family. In southern India, those who have heard about durian's naughty reputation are paying out big bucks for an exotically smelly homeopathic remedy.
|It keeps going and going and going...|
Most countries in Southeast Asia have raunchy folktales concerning the King of Fruit, which is called the King, and not the Queen, for a reason. While sampling durian in Sri Lanka, my husband Rob was several times dragged away from me by a winking older man to be educated about the birds and the bees of durian. One man claimed that a concoction of durian seeds would keep his little man at the ready for more than 2 hours.
Yet no one except those desperate Indians ever thought to do the research on whether or not durian really makes anything go up, blood pressure or otherwise.
The emasculating situation of India's men may be what inspired the researchers to look into durian's aphrodisiacal properties, and in particular its effect on sperm. Durian may not be able to help Indian men fit into internationally sized condoms (or sadly, durian condoms), but the study showed a positive outlook for men suffering from swimmers retarded by those scary xenobiotics.
The study looked at the effect on copulation of durian fed to male Swiss mice over a two week period. Just how they observed this effect is awkward, and includes this wonderfully giggle-licious photograph.
The male mice wooed their sweethearts in “specially designed cages” under dimmed lighting. On the first, seventh and 14th day of the study, scientists observed the copulating couple for an hour and recorded the number of times the male mounted and how long it took him to get up the courage to go for it, which they term “mounting latency.” I know a far few number of human males suffering from a similar “latency.”
They found that the group fed the highest concentration of durian extract were both faster to make a move and more prolific. By the end of the two weeks, the male was climbing aboard five minutes before his nervous, non-durian fed periods. That’s one horny mouse!
The researchers also recorded sperm count and sperm mobility, meaning how energetically the little mice swimmers flailed under the microscope. They found that the mice fed the highest concentration of durian had both higher concentrations and activity level.
A follow-up study attempted to isolate the compound causing all the mice machismo. The researchers compared plain old durian extract to the effect of the compound 3-β-hydroxy-21-Normethyl-19-vinylidenylursane. It's unclear how they chose to study that particular compound out of durian's 60-some-odd active compounds. It's also unclear what exactly 3-β-hydroxy-21-Normethyl-19-vinylidenylursane is but the conclusion is that the compound is not what gives durian it's magical masculating powers.
The researchers suggest that the source of the durian's kingship is its the sterol content, which "increase the steroidogenesis and elevate androgen levels which results in the observed effect." In more interesting words, all you male durian freaks are doping.
Unfortunately for us gals, no one has yet studied durian's effect on our libido. It may be that, like Viagra, durian does very little for us chemically. Durian does contain small amounts of tryptophan, the feel-happy drug found in chocolate, but scientists suspect that the amount is so small that any aphrodisiac-like effect is purely psychological.
Either way men, the best way to get into your durian-loving sweetie's pants this Valentine's Day is to bring her something she likes. I suggest durian chocolate truffles. Or even better, just durian.
- "Isolation and Aphrodisiac Screening of the Fruits of Durio Zibethinus" [PDF]
- "Evaluation of Phytocontituents and Aphrodisiac Activity"