Saturday, August 30, 2008

Guide to Aphrodisiacs: Chan Su, a Lethal Aphrodisiac

Chan Su is a traditional Chinese medication used, inter alia, as a topical anesthetic. It is prepared from the skin of the toad Bufo bufo gargarizans and contains bufadienolides and bufotenine, examples of cardiac steroids. During the last few years it has been sold in New York City as a purported aphrodisiac under names such as "Stone" and "Rock Hard".

At least four fatalities have been reported during 1993-95 as a result of ingestion of this topical drug, the deaths being caused by cardiac dysrythmias.

Even when used topically, Chan Su is not in any way an amorous adjuvant. When ingested, its contents of cardioactive steroids such as resibufogenin, bufalin and cinobufagin, is bound to have detrimental effects.

The death of a 23-year-old man in New York City resulting from heart failure was attributed to ingestion of a West Indian aphrodisiac known as "Love Stone." Chemical analysis showed that this preparation was very similar to "Chan Su" By a combination of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, bufotenine was identified as well as a series of bufadienolides, namely resibufogenin, bufalin, and cinobufagin. Allk these are derived from toad venom or secretions, and are cardiotonic steroids.

For further information, please consult Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 44, 853 (1995). as well as following list of references.


Brubacher JR, Ravikumar PR, Bania T, Heller MB, Hoffman RS: Treatment of toad venom poisoning with digoxin-specific Fab fragments. Chest 110 (5): 1282-1288 (Nov 1996)
Barry TL, Petzinger G, Zito SW: GC/MS comparison of the West Indian aphrodisiac "Love Stone" to the Chinese medication "chan su": bufotenine and related bufadienolides. J Forensic Sci 41 (6): 1068-1073 (Nov 1996)
Pierach CA: Digoxinlike toxicity and death from a purported aphrodisiac. JAMA 275 (13): 988 (Apr 3 1996)
Weinblatt M: "Rock"--a deadly aphrodisiac. Ann Emerg Med 23 (4): 904 (Apr 1994)
Chan WY, Ng TB, Yeung HW: Examination for toxicity of a Chinese drug, the toad glandular secretory product chan su, in pregnant mice and embryos. Biol Neonate 67 (5): 376-380 (1995)
Wang JD, Narui T, Takatsuki S, Hashimoto T, Kobayashi F, Ekimoto H, Abuki H, Niijima K, Okuyama T: Hematological studies on naturally occurring substances. VI. Effects of an animal crude drug "chan su" (bufonis venenum) on blood coagulation, platelet aggregation, fibrinolysis system and cytotoxicity. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 39 (8): 2135-2137 (Aug 1991)
Fushimi R, Koh T, Iyama S, Yasuhara M, Tachi J, Kohda K, Amino N, Miyai K: Digoxin-like immunoreactivity in Chinese medicine. Ther Drug Monit 12 (3): 242-245 (May 1990)

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