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Quack cures for all kinds of ailments have been around throughout medical history, so it should come as no surprise that man’s least favourite medical complaint has been the subject of quite a few of them.

In what we sometimes assume are enlightened times, there is still plenty of this going on concerning various diseases; if there was any doubt about this, one only needs to look at the nonsense flying around social media about how coronavirus can be prevented by everything from vitamin D to the anti-malarial Hydroxychloroquine.

So it is with erectile dysfunction, itself now actually identified as a ‘long covid’ symptom.

Last week, a rumour flying round the internet in Nigeria suggested papaya root offered a cure for the erectile dysfunction, the Guardian Nigeria News reported. The post said: “Wash the roots well and cut them into pieces. Dip or soak in water for 24 hours. A man with a weak erection should have a drink, three times a day, until improvement.”

The paper trashed this idea, quoting a professor of urological surgery on the matter. It has previously debunked a load of similar claims featuring substances such as onions, lime and garlic.

Such nonsense is not confined to Africa but is global, as Covid and the rise of the social media ‘expert’ – who watched a dubious video on YouTube before it was banned – has shown us. 

The ultimate consequence can be the same: People being kidded into thinking the real solutions are simple things they can get from common or garden ingredients, rather than seeking serious medical interventions. They can feed off a distrust of ‘big pharma’ and the medical establishment in either case, and are willingly exploited by purveyors of snake oil.

Quack cures, it should be noted, should absolutely never be confused with potential real treatments that are undergoing trials and research. Examples of this include an acoustic wave therapy treatment developed in the US, or a new drug Cure Pharmaceutical is now entering into trials. These may in due course become established and accepted treatments with demonstrable benefits.

Nonetheless, for now it is best to stick to tried-and-trusted treatments and to treat with caution anything yet to be endorsed by the wider medical community – let alone anything fully debunked. 

For those with erectile dysfunction issues, the temptation to stray from established medical science may have an extra element, given the embarrassment many men may feel telling their GP about the issue.

However, by connecting via the web and taking steps like buying cheap Sildenafil online, it is possible to sidestep the cringe factor and deal in a less than face-to-face manner with those who can provide a solution.

Of course, it is still worth getting a good health check-up, because there may be underlying health issues causing problems downstairs that might have other consequences too, meaning changes in lifestyle, diet and the provision of other medication could be in order.

Nonetheless, it is certainly true that speaking online to those who know what they are doing is a better way of using the internet than trawling it for ‘cures’ that may be anything but.