Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hawaii's Orgasm Inducing Mushrooms

I saw this earlier but didn't realize it's importance.
Happy Valentine's Day.

From Discover's Science Sushi:

Expedition Ecstasy: Sniffing Out The Truth About Hawai‘i’s Orgasm-Inducing Mushroom
It was the moment of truth.
I couldn’t believe I’d actually found it. When John Holliday told me where to look to find the infamous Dictyophora species, I didn’t really believe him—probably because he also claimed this mushroom had some pretty implausible properties. But it was there all the same, right where he said it would be. Countless hours of research and reporting had culminated in this moment. There I was, standing on the remains of an old lava flow, staring at a mushroom that one man claimed could make me orgasm by smell alone.
I bent down, pressing my hands in the soft mulch on either side of the fungus, and let the air out of my lungs. Then I pushed my face next to its orange stalk and breathed in as deeply as I could.
I was on a plane flying back to Honolulu after nearly a month away when a post on Twitter caught my eye. “Women who sniff this Hawaiian mushroom have spontaneous orgasms.” How have I not heard of this?

Curious, I followed the link in the article to another article, which linked to an abstract for a talk given almost fifteen years ago—but the journal’s site was down and all that I could access was the front page for the abstract. I Googled the authors’ names—John C. Holliday and Noah Soule—finding scattered stories about the abstract over the years, but nothing more concrete. The only one which seemed to be based on an actual encounter with the researchers was an article by Ben Sostrin for the newsletter of the Oregon Mycological Society from 2002 titled “Mushrooms and Maui II: Mamalu o Wahine,” the second half of a two part series on Hawaiian mushrooms, which of course I had no access to. I emailed the society contact to see if I could get a copy, and kept looking.

I searched Google Scholar, but there appeared to be no follow up, no complete manuscript. Wikipedia somehow had the number of test subjects — 16 women and 20 men — but no indication where those numbers came from. Oh come on. Flustered, I Googled again, finding every mention of this orgasmic mushroom study. I read every blog post, note, and article—dozens upon dozens of them—all apparently based on the exact same minuscule amount of information.  I finally obtained a copy of the abstract itself:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 4.31.33 PM 

It wasn’t much to go on. But now I was invested—I wanted to know more. I had to know more.

Māmalu o Wahine—the orgasm-inducing Hawaiian mushroom—sounded implausible right off the bat. Yet it would be ill-advised to discount the possibility of local lore identifying a bioactive plant well before modern science. After all, willow branches were chewed for centuries to relieve fever and pain before scientists were able to isolate salicin from its bark—a discovery which led to aspirin. Indigenous cultures have a wealth of knowledge, particularly about local plants and animals, hidden (or not so hidden) in their myths, legends, medical practices, and songs that are passed from generation to generation.

I knew exactly who to ask. “Hey, really random-seeming question: have you ever heard anything about an orgasm-inducing mushroom, maybe related to a fertility ritual or something?” I texted to a Hawaiian friend of mine. As a haole, I’m not as familiar with Hawaiian traditional knowledge, but I figured if the Māmalu o Wahine legend was true, she’d have heard something about it. “In all my memories of terrestrial forestry stuff, I don’t remember anything about any kinds of mushrooms,” she wrote back....MORE
Here is the writer's homepage