The NYC Health Department sent out an alert yesterday warning New Yorkers to avoid the illegal aphrodisiac known as "Stone," which can cause serious poisonings and death. Or as their terrifying email blast put it, "PRODUCT ALERT: ILLEGAL PURPORTED APHRODISIAC CALLED "STONE" CAN CAUSE SERIOUS POISONING AND DEATH," along with the equally descriptive subhead: "Product also known as Love Stone, Black Stone, Rock Hard, Hard Rock, China Rock or Piedra China."

According to the Health Department, a 39-year-old man recently died after ingesting Piedra China, prompting the health warning. There were no other details about the death, but the Health Department describes the substance: "Stone, a hard dark brown substance, is typically sold as a solid chunk less than a square inch in size. It may be packaged in a clear plastic bag with some labeling. The product is sold in some adult stores and can also be found in other neighborhood stores. Its active ingredients include several chemicals known as bufadienolides. They are derived from toad venom and some trees and can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart."

As for what it does to you, Stone can cause serious heart problems or death when ingested, but can also be harmful when applied to the skin, which apparently is "its typical use." Symptoms of poisoning may include chest pain, abdominal pain and vomiting.

If you find one or more of these stones in your possession, the Health Department advises you to "wrap and discard them as garbage (do not flush down the toilet). If you suspect poisoning, call the Poison Control Center at (212) POISONS. Spanish- speaking callers can call (212) VENENOS. Interpretation services are available."

A 35-year-old man died in NYC in 2008 after ingesting a small amount of Stone. Since 2000, there have been at least seven similar cases involving Stone in NYC.

As a certified aphrodisiac expert (I once wrote about "yarsagumba," aka "Himalayan Viagra," so I think my bonafides speak for themselves), I can say with 100% certainty that the only aphrodisiacs you should mess with are Fine Young Cannibal records, eau de iHop bacon smell, and Simpson and Son Revitalizing Tonic, the only medicine that can put some ardor in your larder with its energizing, moisturizing, tantalizing, romanticizing, surprising, her-prizing, revitalizing tonic.