WEIRD NEWS

Bad News For Women Who Want Those Orgasm-Inducing Mushrooms

A 2001 study claims smelling mushrooms caused women to have orgasms. Scientists, however, are skeptical.

A 14-year-old report that recently resurfaced on the Internet alleges to have found mushrooms that caused women to spontaneously orgasm growing atop thousand-year-old lava fields on the Big Island of Hawaii.

John Holliday and Noah Soule's findings were published in 2001 in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, according to the blog IFL Science.

Then, after so many years of obscurity, the report resurfaced online and went viral -- and this week, it caused women everywhere to clamor for magical mushrooms.

But could these mushrooms really give off a scent that leads to a happy ending?

Girl, in your wet dreams.

(The link to the original article is currently down, but the report's title is still included in the site's table of contents. You can view an archived version of the official study here.)

Don Hemmes, professor of biology at the University of Hawaii and author of Mushrooms of Hawaii, told The Huffington Post that he knows the article very well, but doesn't think much of it.

"I think it is flawed on many levels," he said.

The mushrooms referenced in the study are known as netted stink horns and also grow in China, he said, adding that they can be used as an ingredient in soups and bought in airport gift shops. 

Science Alert, an educational blog, also says "there are a bunch of problems" with the study's claims.

In their original study, Holliday and Soule performed a "smell-test" on the "unnamed Dictyophora species" of bright orange fungus with an unspecified number of male and female volunteers, claiming that "nearly half of the female test subjects experienced spontaneous orgasms while smelling this mushroom."

But Science Alert says the study's results show no scientific evidence that proved the orgasms were caused by the scent of the mushrooms and the researchers "did little to prove that the self-reported orgasms actually happened."

Furthermore, Science Alert adds, "the results of an experiment cannot be seen as definitive until they are reproduced under a different set of conditions."

Indeed, it is nearly impossible to find a secondary study that confirms that these mushrooms have any sexually arousing effect.

An online comment credited to Debbie Viess, a biologist and founder of the Bay Area Mycological Society -- mycology is the study of fungi -- goes one step further, calling the study "garbage science".

"Another hidden factoid regarding that paper, confessed to me by Holliday (who sent me a copy of his paper) was that the 'research' was funded by a local pharmaceutical company that hoped to market any discovered 'aphrodisiacs,'" reads the comment, written in July in response to a blog post about the study.

Viess, however, doesn't think that Holliday was trying to make anything up.

"I think that Holliday may well have even believed in the unsubstantiated underlying premise," Viess explained to HuffPost. "But that doesn't make the study valid, repeatable or anything other than preposterous, going on what he showed me in the expanded paper, coupled with what I actually know about stinkhorns, which is quite a bit."

Holliday, who is president of Aloha Medicinals Inc., a producer of medicinal organic mushrooms, said he does intend to market these mushroom's effects.

"This is a paper I published 14 years ago," Holliday said. "This is a research project in the works, with the intention to bring this on the market as a drug... Also, no cultures [or] spores are available for anyone else to grow this."

So... sorry, ladies (and significant others). If you really want to reach that climax, it seems you might just have to do it the old-fashioned way.

This article has been updated with new quotes from Viess about her opinion of the study, replacing an earlier paraphrase of comments she posted online.

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