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The pill just celebrated its 50th birthday. You don't know the half of it.
NEW YORK — The 50th anniversary of the birth control pill — the ultimate remedy which revolutionized the dating and mating game forever — presents a good excuse to contemplate some of the less studied, but all the more intriguing remedies people use to improve their sex lives, from Africa to China, India, Japan, Papua New Guinea and beyond.
And they do so by any means possible: conception, contraception, erection or deception.
A few described below are illegal. But then again, so is the birth control pill in many countries. This list is intended for mature audiences only and you may not want to try some of these at home.
1. Holy Footwater
At a recent healing ceremony of the Zulu tribe in South Africa, all 70 guests washed their feet in the same bucket of water before entering a traditional indlu, a circular building with a thatched rooftop.
In this area of South Africa, 40 percent of the population is estimated to be HIV positive, which makes just thinking about any possible cuts and scrapes on one's feet a high-adrenaline, divine-intervention-deserving experience. But that's not the worst of it. Read more about South Africa's battle with AIDS.
The traditional healer, sangoma, instructs people to drink this water to cleanse themselves of their worries and their evil spirits. People line up to refill empty bottles they brought from their homes so they'll have enough of the magic foot water for later use.
Footwater ceremony. (Iva Skoch/GlobalPost)
“I know what you might be thinking,” my Zulu interpreter says. “But it really works.”
People from the villages surrounding Eshowe, the spiritual center of the Zulu tribe, come to their local sangoma with all sorts of problems — unemployment, disease, lost cattle, possession by an evil spirit, lack of money, bad grades in school.
But the most common troubles in the green hills of Kwazulu Natal — where men dress in leopard fur collars and virgins dance around them topless — have to do with sex.
As mutually exclusive as they might seem, women are most troubled by their husband's mistresses, while men battle erection issues.
But there is hardly a problem a bit of footwater can't solve. Hold the water bottle up high. Let go. Smell it and take a swig of the brown wonder drug.
Still thinking about sex?
2. Muti, the Penis Trap
Another remedy from Africa, this one is used as a fidelity-enforcing device. Muti is a general name for traditional medicine in southern parts of Africa, usually potions made from plants and dispensed by local healers.
Here, a man applies such a potion inside his wife's vagina to prevent her from having sex with anyone else. Believers say once inside a woman, muti turns into a weapon and should anyone try to penetrate it clamps down, making the penis stick inside. Some believe the aggressive properties of muti can actually infiltrate through the penis into the bloodstream of a man and kill him immediately.
This method is popular among inmates and other men who are forced to leave one or all of their wives for extended periods. A source in Cape Town, a 45-year-old Xhosa man named Arthur who suspected his wife was cheating on him, said he tried the muti method but he didn't think it worked. “I think she's still cheating on me,” he said.
Those ready to take the next step in fidelity-enforcing methods can consider the “teeth,” (or rape axe), a penis trap using a similar set of moral principles but brought to spine-chilling, flesh-tearing, mechanical perfection. It works exactly the way it sounds.
3. Snake Gall
Of the many animals considered health food in China, the snake holds a paramount position. Every part of the reptile can be used for medicinal purposes to cure anything from hemorrhoids to hysteria.
But the one snake organ which everyone's after is the gall bladder.
Gall means “courage” in Chinese characters and courage means performance in the universal language of lust. Gall bladder is said to be an aphrodisiac as potent as Viagra, although, arguably, not nearly as convenient.
In the backstreets of Guillin, a picturesque town in southwestern China, restaurants keep their live snakes in cages. Their keepers swear none of the snakes are endangered and hence their consumption is perfectly legal, if not