052208toad.jpgA 35-year-old man died this week after ingesting a small chunk of an illegal aphrodisiac made from toad venom. According to the AP, the unidentified victim went to the hospital complaining of chest and abdominal pains; doctors identified the problem but were unable to treat him and he died after two days!

Health officials say
his death was caused by a hardened resin, made partly from venom collected from toads of the Bufo genus, which contains chemicals called “bufadienolides” known to disrupt heart rhythms. The aphrodisiac is supposed to be applied topically, not eaten, but authorities warn that even that use can be harmful.

The substance, purchased by the man at a neighborhood shop, is called “Piedra,” but it’s also sold at sex shops as Love Stone, Jamaican Stone, Black Stone and Chinese Rock. Though banned by the FDA, it often slips through customs, and health officials are urging people to watch out for it. Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of the city's poison control center, told the AP, “There is no definitely safe way to use it. Don't buy it. Don't sell it. If you have it, don't use it. Throw it out.

Photo courtesy NYC Department of Health.