Changing Planet

Venom From the Banana Spider Could Be the New Viagra

Shortness of breath, excessive salivation, tremors, and an intensely painful erection are all indications of being bitten by a highly venomous arachnid commonly known as the banana spider.

So toxic is Phoneutria nigriventer, an aggressive member of the Ctenidae family of wandering spiders, that its bite has been known to kill people.

The spider is a native of the rain forests of central and South America, but it has been seen scurrying out of crates of bananas shipped to other parts of the world. (Killer spider found in family’s supermarket shopping)

The observation that the banana spider’s bite causes priapism, prolonged erections that can damage the penis permanently, got researchers to wonder if its potent venom could be the basis of an alternate treatment for erectile dysfunction, or ED, as television commercials for Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis politely put it. About one in three men seeking a virility lift is not helped by these ED drugs currently on the market.

Spider Venom Boosts Erections in Elderly Male Rats

Brazilian and American scientists report in the current issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine that the toxin from the Brazilian wandering spider may help treat ED in humans, if tests on elderly rodents with erectile dysfunction are anything to go by.

“Researchers from Brazil and the U.S. extracted the toxin, called PnTx2-6, from the deadly venom and injected it into rats which had age-related erectile dysfunction,” reports the UK news site MailOnline. “They found the toxin boosted erections by triggering the release of nitric oxide, which boosts circulation in the male genitals by helping blood vessel walls relax.”

Treatment derived from the toxin may help patients who fail to respond to erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, which use different pathways, study co-author Kenia Nunes told NBC News.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • John

    Amazing!

  • James M

    Because an intensely painful erection is better than no erection….. I guess….

  • Niki

    Just like the black widows in Palahniuk’s “Rant”! Awesome book, check it out!

  • Regina Balvanz

    It’s great they’re working on finding solutions to a common male complaint but it seems to me women’s sexual health is never mentioned. Could these same medications improve sexual enjoyment for women as well? Women can suffer from low libido and have difficulty climaxing. It would nice if there were something which stimulated women the way these products stimulate men.

  • Tom Lilly

    The thought of researchers testing this drug on elderly rats with ED just got my laughing, uncontrollably!

  • Bill

    Regina – I believe the painful erection is actually the very thing that is “supposed” to stimulate women. Don’t worry – they’ve got you covered, babe.

  • Caroline

    Is that a banana spider in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

  • Cathy

    Honey, why don’t you go get bitten by a venomous spider for me tonight, because that really turns me on!

  • Micah

    Am I the only one who was intrigued by the fact that they have test mice with ed??? Seemed funny to me…

  • Nancy

    The rats with ED sounds funny…

  • Baja Viewer

    @Eric – It’s typical that ED is considered a “medical condition”, but women’s inability to enjoy sex is not. Our problems are on the inside, so dryness, tissue shrinkage and pain are not considered important. Are they looking for an alternative treatment to dangerous hormone therapy for women? Maybe a female spider’s venom?

    @Bill – Just having a man present an erect phallus is not always stimulating to a woman. No – they don’t have us covered, as usual.

  • Pablo

    nothing new, nor unique to that spider.
    See what they are doing in Chile (2003)

    http://www.ceo.cl/609/article-28413.html

  • Nelly P

    Wow and I do mean wow!!!! How do you know a rodent Is ED?

  • valentina ochoa

    ah de estar aqui !!!!!!!! en ingles |!!!!!! piera mingou !

  • Ben

    Prolonged and intensely painful erection, i’d rather stay without one.

  • kiragu

    Ouch!

  • Oskar

    bite by banana spider to stimulate a black widow MMM???

  • Marsha

    Eric, What things are they doing for women, specifically? Women are much more complicated than most of you men think (from my own experiences and much reading on the subject). Women have erections too. And believe me, I know when mine isn’t working! Yet the scientific community does nothing to hep women when they have a lot more sexual medical problems than men.

  • OSKAR

    Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!!!

  • robert

    i dont want to get a boner from a spider

  • Walter Matera

    Research into women’s sexual dysfunction is ongoing. One product called Bremelanotide reached final review by the FDA but the company pulled it when it was discovered that occasional side effects cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure. Current research seems concentrated on a related compound called PL-6983. What the status of that research is at this time is hard to determine.

  • Lia

    OMG !!! Now CHINA is going to get full of Bananas plants everywhere… or…. they are going to buy all the banana plantations on the third world….may be that ‘s what happening at South America…. they do not have enough with the rhinoceros horns and the shark fins…..

  • Lia

    Well.. you did not accepted my post…

  • pipi

    my big sluggish pipe is crying for your venom

  • rockne1865

    Those mice with ED they make them in the laboratory, you feed them McDonald’s & play Rush Limpbrain on the Radio!

  • rockne1865

    Up All Night
    What a way to GO!

  • Bobby

    ouch!!!

  • aaleigha couse

    i am never going to sleep again thanks alote

  • Mwotil Denis Victor

    I think ED is really a problem and hoping this really works out.women too have simillar problems can this possibly work for women as well?

  • A girl

    the picture that they show is actually the Brazilian Wandering Spider…. not the Banana Spider….. just FYI

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  • Dennis

    This marveluos aracnide is called ärana negra in the peruvian amazon forest. It is great, it works.

  • Dennis

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  • Dennis

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  • Dennis

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  • Cliff

    i finaly figure a way to sleep with al my 3 wives in a single night!

  • Cliff

    i finaly figure a way to sleep with al my 3 wives in a single night!

  • sljdgjdfgjdfj

    i love this spider!

  • sljdgjdfgjdfj

    i love this spider!

  • Mahsa

    Thank you for the useful paper. Is the product released for routine use? If so, what is it’s name? who knows this?
    please inform me by rajabikind@gmail.com. thanks again

  • Mahsa

    Thank you for the useful paper. Is the product released for routine use? If so, what is it’s name? who knows this?
    please inform me by rajabikind@gmail.com. thanks again

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