The latest fad for “naturally” treating erectile dysfunction has been nicknamed “sexy pavement fungus.” The lichen, Xanthoparmelia scabrosa, contains a chemical that acts as a PDE-5 inhibitor… the same principle used by prescription medications for ED, such as Stendra, Levitra, Viagra and Cialis.
However, the concentrations of this chemical are very low – too low to have a noticeable effect. And according to University of Otago lichenologist Dr Allison Knight, the fungus also contains toxic chemicals.
There are reports from New Zealand – where the lichen is common – of men licking the lichen on rocks and pavement, in the belief that it will treat their erectile dysfunction.
More commonly, men are buying the fungus in powdered form online. Like most herbal remedies for ED, the packaged supplements are likely to be fraudulent. The United States Food and Drug Administration asked an Australian lichen expert to analyze one of the products. He found it was 80 percent Viagra, and 20 percent grass clippings.
Dr. Knight says that it’s unlikely any of the products sold online contain significant amounts of the fungus. “It’s really quite hard to scrape off the footpath, or anywhere else. Especially trying to scrape it off without getting bits of gritty pebbles and stuff in it.”
Our advice? Talk to your doctor to find a safe and effective treatment for ED. And don’t lick the fungus!