Gondolosi, African viagra

Mondia whitei 2nd June 2010

I first came across it on a weekend sojourn to Lilongwe from Blantyre in Malawi. On the drive up to Lilongwe, the guys took an unscheduled pit stop  in a bustling market village. After protracted discussions, one of the vendors disappeared and promptly returned with several roots of “white ginger” wrapped in a newspaper.  We continued on our journey with the guys being more animated and extremely anxious. I was completely naïve, as this spot is quite popular for buying vegetables so I thought gondolosi was some sort of local vegetable but the guys filled me in on the remainder of the trip about their little organic carnal delight and the exciting plans they had for that Saturday night.

Gondolosi is wide spread across Sub-Saharan Africa from Guinea to Kenya to Angola. In Kenya, the Luhya tribe call it Mukombela, or “love and forgiveness”, whilst in Cameroon it is called limte,  and Angola, mundondo. Its scientific name is Mondia whitei. It is a wild, high climbing vine with red-purple flowers and large heart-shaped leaves almost telling of its “romantic” qualities. The roots have a strongly pleasant aroma and a sweet enjoyable taste, rather hot and bitter at first then slightly sweeter later. People either chew the root or brew it as a tea.

Mondia whitei is a remedy for anything and everything not just sexual prowess – its a one stop pharmacy for a multitude of ailments – heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, gonorrhoea, abdominal pain, constipation, bilharzia, premature uterine contractions in pregnant women, appetite stimulant, asthma, and high blood pressure.  Beyond its pharmacological capabilities, it is also nutritious having tested positive for micronutrients like vitamins A, D E and K, zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium – so it’s a healthy turn on! (Pun intended). Its not only good for people but animals too –  as a valuable nutritious animal fodder, though it was unpalatable for goats, it increases milk production in Fresian cows and lactating mothers (yes real human beings).  In addition to all these health benefits of the root, the leaves have even been used as a cooked vegetable, the roots as a culinary spice, and the seeds as an arrow poison. And finally but not least, it has spiritual qualities bestowing luck on people who are about to embark on a difficult endeavour. Is there anything this plant can’t do?

In Malawi, gondolosi is believed to promote sexual arousal, enhance sexual performance, increase sensitivity, and cure erectile dysfunction in men. Mounting scientific evidence is proving that Mondia whitei can attest to all its claims. A 2008 study, found that Mondia whitei increases human sperm motility. Sperm motility is considered an important characteristic of sperm – it describes the quality of the sperm, specifically its ability to move towards the egg. Other research has shown that Mondia whitei enhances libido by increasing testerone levels. More recently, it has been shown to have an effect on erectile dysfunction similar to Sildenafil (Viagra) which stimulates the release of nitric oxide which relaxes muscles, increases blood flow and causes erections.

Mondia whitei is fast becoming popular and heavily exploited so much so that in 2007, the Malawi government banned exports as it is currently being harvested unsustainably from the wild with demand outstripping supply. There are projects for example in Kenya where Mondia whitei is being cultivated to curb depleting wild populations with local farmers earning around  $3300/year from a 0.4ha plot.  As the scientific evidence grows on this multifunctional plant – I envisage little blue pills of “love and forgiveness” – cheap and available across the African continent.

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26 thoughts on “Gondolosi, African viagra

  1. Erm. Shouldn’t we do large scale double-blinded randomized controlled trials in vivo and in humans before we promote this? Throughput of potential drugs from basic science is very small, so all the evidence you cite is far, far from definitive.

    • Most definitely rigorous research is needed, most of the studies I have cited where small, done in animals, and methodology did not discriminate fully and provide statistically significant results. …however I hope this studies will evolve into bigger and better clinical trials….

      • Well… sure. I hope so too. But surely we shouldn’t promote any potential treatment before good evidence is in. Someone who comes across this post of yours, might believe, incorrectly, that there is good clinical evidence for the use of gondolosi. And there isn’t. I don’t see why you should be promoting this just because the herb happens to be popular in Africa.

  2. Scientif study will merely make some western pharmaceutical wealthy with little blue pills and others derived from gondolosi while the locals get zip. Interesting to note the multibenefits of it and its widespread cultivation/uses across africa. Cheers!

    • Sometimes taking things in pills is not always the answer (even though I said it) – having the full plant form might be better as the various chemicals work synergistically and when u start isolating them they lose their action, any way having said that…i do hope that whoever does try and commercialize it acknowledges whole heartedly the indigenous knowledge and more so that it be an African initiative.

  3. Michael M obv has no need of gondolosi, other guys might be more keen.
    EVERYBODY has heard about this here at home in Malawi. Efficacy is not in question.
    Thanks Muza for putting this out so that more men might hear about it and benefit !!!
    If only Australia allowed imports of roots…

    • Anecdotes are not evidence. And the plural of anecdote isn’t data…

      Sexual arousal is quintessentially psychogenic, so it is entirely possible that the placebo effect accounts for the cultural beleif in gondolosi’s efficacy. The only way to know is by doing double blind clinically controlled trials. (And I’m NOT saying we should give this to “big pharma” – that’s another question. Clearly, the intellectual property belongs to local people).

  4. “Mounting scientific evidence is proving that Mondia whitei can attest to all its claims. A 2008 study, found that Mondia whitei increases human sperm motility. Sperm motility is considered an important characteristic of sperm – it describes the quality of the sperm, specifically its ability to move towards the egg. Other research has shown that Mondia whitei enhances libido by increasing testerone levels. More recently, it has been shown to have an effect on erectile dysfunction similar to Sildenafil (Viagra) which stimulates the release of nitric oxide which relaxes muscles, increases blood flow and causes erections.”
    What I can not believe!

  5. Gongolosi is the powerfull herb.i have been taking it my self its wonderful and it tastes good.you need it i can send it to you anywhere in the word.

  6. Muza Gondwe is a science communicator from Malawi who is keen to engage Africans with science. She is currently on a fellowship at the Centre of African Studies on the Public Understanding of Science in Africa, working on a project titled African Science Heroes.

  7. Just saw the post today, I am working on a study to do with this precious resource. Dont underestimate the value of Traditional knowledge. It has led to the excellence of most Pharmacetical companies today. The communities may not know the scientific terms and process that we use today, but they sure have valuable knowledge that can be built on. Sad part is they dont know the value of theIr knowledge.

    I have found alot of scientific papers on the topic, and the evidence is convincing enough that the plant meets its claims. Zikomo Muza…..Ine nkhaniyi yandikondweretsa , and ndi research yokwanira, mtengo umenewo ukhoza kupindulira aMalawi ena.

  8. Gondolosi is very good. It helps with strong penile erections, premature ejaculation and production of maximum sperms. The medicine has been used by boys and men in Malawi from one geration to another. It has been tried and tested by people and found to be good.

    The only problem we have in Malawi is that some people look down upon traditional medicine. One example is former member of parliament, Mr.Manduwa who moved a motion in parliament to make Gondolosi a protected plant. His fellow parliamentarians made jokes about it and it ended there, no success.

    Today some from the Indian community are sending their workers to dig it and they export it overseas illegally , for pharmacetical companies to make pills like “Cialis”, etc. and Malawi as a country is benefitting nothing out of those exports. Just like our famous fish “Chambo”. You could not find it anywhere in the world. But nowadays you find this “Tilapia shiranshirana” elsewhere in the world being bred. Some so called tourists, disguising as deep divers on Lake Malawi smuggled it out.

    Lastly, let me warn my fellow Malawians that gondolosi as a plant is slowly going into extinction. It is an endangered specy. We harvest it, but we do not replenish it.

    Apart from Gondolosi we also have “Nkhondo Ku Bedi”, “Chiswa Bumbu” and “Jakisoni wa Azibambo”. Those who wish to know more they can contact me at aekb47@yahoo.co.uk

    • Abetha, I agree with you the balance between traditional medicine and “western medicine” is rapidly tilting towards the west in Malawi and not in places like China. But what is the reason for this? Oddly enough western medicine is sometimes derived from traditional medicine. However traditional medicine is not tried and tested clinically and most times evidence is anecdotal. We must also recognise that not all traditional medicines work….I would be interested in your reasons why traditional medicine is losing out and what could be done to stop this.

  9. I have access to mondia whitei in my farm and i can send it to any locations were needed.Just name your quantity and price and it would be brought to your locations

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