By Alexandra Sifferlin
November 4, 2015
TIME Health
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The New York City Health Department released an alert on Wednesday about a dangerous toad venom aphrodisiac after a man died from ingesting the substance.

The aphrodisiac, commonly known as “stone,” is a chemical composition that is banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It goes by many names, the Health Department said in a statement, including “Piedra China, Jamaican Stone, Love Stone, Black Stone or China Rock.” The agency says a 39-year-old man died last week after taking the composition. A local hospital alerted the New York City Poison Control Center of the death.

The stone substance is hard, dark brown, and sold as a solid chunk, the Health Department reports. “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,” according to an agency statement. “They are derived from toad venom and some trees and can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart.” Stone can also cause vomiting and chest and abdominal pain.

The CDC has described bufadienolides as naturally occurring cardioactive steroids that have effects similar to digoxin, a medication used to treat heart failure.

This is not the first time that New York has seen cases of stone-related illness. The city says there have been poisonings and deaths linked to such products since the 1990s, and that since 2000, there have been seven similar cases, including two from this year. The Health Department released a similar warning on stone in 2008.

“The Health Department has sent an alert to health care providers in New York City, asking them to watch for potential poisonings and to call Poison Control if they suspect a case,” the department said in a press release. “The agency is also working with federal authorities to require distributors and store owners to stop selling these products and remove them from shelves and inventory stockrooms.”


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