Sunday Magazine

Bitters: Alarm bells over men’s passionate bedroom drinks

The need to satisfy their partners sexually has driven many men to taking drinks deemed unhealthy by health experts. In this report, LADESOPE LADELOKUN writes on the growing trend of sex enhancing bitters and the road less travelled for sexual satisfaction


Beyond being a vehicle for the fulfillment of the Biblical injunction to procreate and populate the earth, a mind-blowing sex, for some, is non-negotiable. Knowing how failure in the bedroom can fuel infidelity, tearing families apart, a number of men and women leave nothing to chance to ensure satisfaction between the sheets. In what some netizens describe as “testicular testimony”, joy clouded the visage of Onwulum as she gleefully narrated how a “blessing coconut” from her pastor revived activities in her bedroom after her husband had failed for three straight weeks in his primary bedroom assignment to satisfy her in a viral video before a supposed congregation.


But that is not the story of Tola Atanda, a building materials dealer, who vowed nothing would separate him from Japata Bitters, when told of the harm he could be doing to himself by a concerned neighbour in the Shangisha area of Ketu. “Something must kill a man”, he said, as he downed two bottles.


According to him, no man should give a woman the excuse to cheat. He continued: “Why do you think some women abandon their men to sleep with other men? You need to give a woman what she wants.


There’s this woman who told me her husband trusts her so much that he would never believe she’s cheating on her. There’s no prayer she doesn’t shower on me when we’re in the middle of it. She confessed her husband doesn’t come close at all in terms of performance. The secret is what I’m holding.


The bedroom business is serious business.” Also, aligning his thoughts with Atanda, an event planner, Charles Aigboje, says bitters do more than enhancing sexual performance, when doing the wild thing. For Aigboje, Jekomo Bitters does all the magic in the bedroom, saying it’s his favourite. “I never disappoint my woman when I drink Jekomo. With a bottle, I will do all styles and my organ will still be erect.

You will never disappoint your woman if you drink them. You can’t go wrong with it. Unlike other bitters, it doesn’t contain alcohol.” Until 2011, when Alomo Bitters, which is produced by Kasapreko Company Limited of Ghana, gained entry into the Nigerian market, findings reveal, not much was heard about by bitters produced and packaged in Nigeria.

Today, bitters like Japata, Jekomo, Agbara, Orijin, Striker, et al are some favourites among Nigerians. But public health experts worry about the unrestricted availability and consumption of various drinks and concoctions on the streets and in the motor parks nationwide, expressing doubts about the hygienic conditions of these drinks and the danger their consumption portends to healthy living.


Only last week, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), had warned that the content of Japata Alcoholic Bitters in circulation was more harmful than the one submitted for testing and registration as it caused the death of mice within five minutes when tested in the laboratory.


A statement by NAFDAC read in part: “An alcoholic bitters product that is of grave concern is Japata Alcoholic bitters which was duly registered by NAFDAC but laced with marijuana or cannabis compared to the registered product that had only ethanol. Through intelligence, NAFDAC was able to shut down the company. “This product, when tested in the laboratory, caused the death of the mice within five minutes. The alcoholic content was doubled compared with the registered product.


The retained samples, kept at the point of registration, did not cause any injury to the animals. “The product laced with Cannabis was said to cause altered state of mind and psychological problems to the user. The owner of the company is on the run and the matter has been shared with NDLEA. “We shall continue with the raid on other illegal production outlet and the perpetrators will be dealt with in line with the extant laws and regulations.”

Experts divided on what bitters do

Dr Lolu Ojo, a Consultant Pharmacist, in a chat with Sunday Telegraph, explained what consumers should look out for when buying bitters to ensure their safety. Among other uses, he said, bitters have been used to boost immune system. His words: “I am concerned and worried about the unrestricted availability and consumption of various drinks and concoctions on the streets and in the motor parks nationwide. “No one is sure about the contents and hygienic conditions of these drinks and their consumption portends danger to healthy living.

“Bitters contains botanical extracts (herbs), alcohol plus other ingredients and have been used, over the years, as aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients to boost the immune system, control sugar and appetite among other uses.

“The source of supply or purchase is critical in decision making. The entire system has been corrupted so much that it is difficult to trust the labels on the preparations anymore. If you have a need for any bitters, the best thing to do is to approach a licenced premises for that purpose.

“The case of Japata bitters, in my opinion, is a tip of the iceberg. There could be many more who had fraudulently obtained NAFDAC’s certification but present the wrong  product to the consuming public. “These bitters are not marketed or officially presented to NAFDAC as aphrodisiacs.

What happened is the producers added other ingredients that tend to produce what they call ‘man power’. If anyone needs help to engage in sexual activity or has erectile dysfunction, the best approach is to seek medical attention. It’s dangerous to take drugs, drinks or concoctions for improved sexual performance without proper guidance. Pharmacists are always there as medicines experts to be consulted on all issues relating to the use of drugs.”

Commenting, a Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Afe Babalola University, Jide Olubiyi, said: “If I must be a little technical, bitters are not supposed to do anything particularly therapeutic. Their popularity grew from an indigenous belief that attributes efficacy to bitterness- the more bitter a substance is, the more people believe it has therapeutic usefulness.

This isn’t necessarily true. But then, the fabricators of these products understand the local thinking so well and that’s why they have exploited this popular misconception to boost their sales.

In fact, community pharmacies and clinics in the country often get patients, whose only disease is the fact that they have consumed these bitters with the hope of ‘flushing’ their system with them, or ‘purifying’ their blood, or treating ‘Staphylococcus’ and other equally misguided reasons.

Call for caution

A family physician, Dr Durojaiye Sodipo, told Sunday Telegraph that challenges with sexual performance could, in most cases, be a sign of an underlying medical problems. Sodipo harped on the need to educate members of the public on what to do instead of fighting the symptom of a disease.

“There are a lot of alternative medications that are marketed in the open market for various disease conditions. Most times, having to do with sexual activities or hav-ing to do with lower back pain. But there needs to be a lot of education to members of the public on the fact that when people have challenges with sexual performance, a large number of it is due underlying medical problems, which necessitates that they now need to be properly assessed. It’s not about taking medications. It is the sign of a problem, usually a cardiovascular or metabolic problem.


Cardiovascular like some people have hypertension, or metabolic problem like diabetes mellitus. So, the point is, a few people may have other causes but a great number of times, it is due to underlying health challenges.” Sodipo warned that indiscriminate use of alternative medications and aphrodisiacs with no proven efficacy could lead to chronic kidney and liver diseases. “So, the issue is people are supposed to visit the hospital where they will be investigated to find out the reason they’re having these challenges and that can be treated. The second issue is that a lot of these medications that are marketed are done under false pretences.

Number one, a number of them claim to have NAFDAC registration. A number of times, NAFDAC will indicate that not all that have NAFDAC registration are safe. Even those that have original NAFDAC registration, actually what NAFDAC has said is that it can’t vouch for their efficacy. Now that NAFDAC has said they may not be safe, then there’s a big danger and we’re seeing a lot of people coming down with chronic kidney diseases, chronic liver diseases and some people are having problems having to do with blindness.

We are also seeing a lot more of Cancers, all of which are driven by indiscriminate use of some of these alternative medications ,which do not have proven efficacy. “So my advice to Nigerians is to desist from indiscriminate use of some of these medications. Even a lot of people take these traditional medications under the guise that their parents took them for a long time and they are still alive. They do not know the underlying medical problems that they have. So, someone could take these things and manage to survive; another person takes it and ends up with kidney problems.

And we must remember that right now in Nigeria and worldwide, because we’ve adopted western lifestyle, we are seeing a lot of increase in conditions we didn’t have before. So, a lot people have underlying problems that they don’t know and when they take some of these alternative medications, it triggers another shutdown in their organs and it becomes a big problem.” On the use of Agbo (concoction prepared from a variety of herbs) to enhance sexual performance, the family physician said: “We are dealing with evidence-based medicine and evidence-based medicine means that whatever you’re taking, there’s a way to measure it.

The dose you’re supposed to take and to also ensure that this is what exactly it’s supposed to do. The truth is that a lot of these traditional medications cause a lot of end organ damage to Nigerians. They may not just know it. So, maybe, someone has a fever and they take Agbo and feel better. To that person, the drug has worked.

What the person doesn’t know is that even though the so-called Agbo has made them feel better, it may have caused some damage to the kidney. Later, the person will now develop kidney problem and not trace it to the Agbo. My advice to people is to desist from taking these alternative medications to boost sexual performance. They should present themselves to the hospitals and be reviewed by a doctor, a lot of these things cause more problems than they are supposed to cure. ”

Danger ignored

For Jide Olubiyi, the unregulated activities of indiscriminate hawkers of potentially poisonous substances, who in their thousands sell locally fabricated herbal products to unsuspecting Nigerians, pose more danger than the seeming deficiency in the level of regulation.

“As a country, we have long been sitting on a gunpowder keg of unwholesome products meant for human consumption. Japata Bitters is no more than a tiny representation of this disaster. Every hour in Nigeria, thousands of hawkers of unregistered products ply their wares everywhere, selling their locally fabricated herbal products, promising heaven and selling potentially poisonous substances to unsuspecting Nigerians. Do we even begin to ask for proof of NAFDAC registration from these hawkers without their very customers attacking one for hindering their source of livelihood?


These indiscriminate hawkers worry me much more than the likes of Japata Bitters for which exists some level of regulation even if deficient,” Olubiyi told Sunday Telegraph. On why manufacturers find it convenient to change their quality practices after getting a proof of NAFDAC registration, the Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry said: “Okay, this is where it gets very tricky principally because the non-professional (especially non-pharmacists) are unlikely to be able to recognize what is safe and what is not: and principally because the proof of NAFDAC registration is no longer sufficient to assure safety.

The ideal is to adjudge safety and genuineness based on NAFDAC registration number and/or certain barcode. However, many criminally minded manufacturers change their quality practices once they have been officially registered with NAFDAC because they understand that NAFDAC oversight doesn’t routinely include random spot assessment post-issuance of the NAFDAC registration number.

“For all of us to be truly safe from this menace, NAFDAC needs to decentralize its analytical functions and have testing laboratories in all the states of the federation. An easy way to achieve this is by partnering with the Faculties and Colleges of Pharmacy in such states and upgrading their Pharmaceutical Chemistry laboratories to the standard required to conduct routine analysis of these products.

These are tests that final year undergraduate students can perform. All that would then be required is for samples of these products to be collected from the market, and then subjected to analysis in these laboratories while the results are shared with NAFDAC in real time. Any discrepancies would then attract the attention to initiate further studies and regulatory action against such manufacturers should that be required.”

Speaking on why Nigerian pharmacists are different from many of their counterparts from many developed countries, Olubiyi said Nigerian pharmacists have both been trained in Orthodox medicine and in traditional medicine practices. “This is a major area of strength,” he added. “The Nigerian pharmacist as a result is by competence both a pharmacist and a herbalist and the Nigerian public should cultivate the habit of walking up to a pharmacist for information about these products before consuming them.

Let me also surprise you: a pharmacist has enough experience and training to identify fake products even when they purportedly have NAFDAC registration number pasted on them. Nigerians are not making use of the ready expertise of the  pharmacist and it is unfortunate that many people have lost their lives and health for something that a pharmacist could have rightly counselled them on.

For many of these so-called bitters, there are research data that an average pharmacist has access to on those products. Data that manufacturers of these products are not very excited to let the unsuspecting Nigerians know.

These include effect on people’s health and body functions, on pregnancy, on mental health, and on the therapeutic function and safety of co-administered medicines. Right now, this is the only safety net available to the public; at least, until NAFDAC gets things right.”

Our story -NAFDAC

According to NAFDAC, having a fake registration number is a worse offence than having none at all, stating the NAFDAC number creates some level of confidence in a product. Speaking with Sunday Telegraph, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, Director of Public Affairs, NAFDAC, said: “We register a few of these bitters and it is one thing to register a product, it’s another thing for people to adulterate it. So, when you register, don’t forget that NAFDAC is not there. Even if you’re sleeping in the factory with them and someone wants to be funny, they can only do it behind you.

So, when the long arm of the law catches up with them, then, this is the day of reckoning and that is why we get some people arrested. “We have the NAFDAC registration number which gives a clean bill of health to the products we register. That is at the level of approval.

But when the owner of the product goes behind and lessens the standard, that’s a criminal offence. You cannot go to a supermarket and start using a scanner. You have to rely on NAFDAC number. So, that’s why anyone that takes our number, we take it very seriously. When people see NAFDAC number, they believe due diligence has been done.


It’s more serious when a product has been registered by NAFDAC and person now goes behind to lower the standard. That’s more criminal because when people see the number, they ‘ll be rest assured that NAFDAC has done due diligence. So, it’s worse than unregistered products that have no number. We’ve already told people to avoid products without NAFDAC number.”

Jimoh, however, harped on the need for members of the public to supply information to the agency on the activities of unscrupulous elements, who are bent on endangering the lives of Nigerians. He further stated that NAFDAC would not relent in its efforts to deploy technologies in providing better services to Nigerians. “For drugs that are counterfeited, we have brought a multi-layered technology. We started with true scan.

There is, what is called the text messaging system. Then right now, under this dispensation, we are promoting what we call the track and trace. We actually used it to monitoring the distribution of COVID vaccines and it has worked. We are deploying that for medicine. We are also trying to extend that to food products where we can use cutting edge technology in checking the quality and wholesomeness


of food. But we have to do it in a thematic sequence because the problem we were facing before was with counterfeit medical products, not food per se. Certain foods can be low in quality, little issues around it but not as very sinister and devastating as issue of outright counterfeiting of drugs.


Public sensitisation is of utmost importance and that’s why we encourage people to report immediately when they see something sinister because NAFDAC cannot be everywhere. ”


How to have mind-blowing sex without bitters -Sex therapist

In a chat with Sunday Telegraph, sex therapist, Sharon Anene, opined that there was need by women to understand their bodies, noting that the need for men to listen to them cannot be overemphasised. Sex, she said, should not be seen by women as a chore.

“First thing people need to understand is that when people are not performing well, the first thing to do is to visit your doctor and find out why you’re not performing well.

The Doctor will now analyse if it’s a mental or psychological issue. If it’s a mental issue, then you’re going to be referred to a sex therapist or a sex coach.

But if it’s a medical problem, then it will be addressed in a hospital. It may be as a result of diabetes. It may be a sickness. It may be high blood pressure.

“You need to first of all diagnose what is wrong with you. When you do that, you can now proceed. If it’s a mental or psychological issue, you will now be referred to a psychologist, a sex therapist, depending on the level of what it is. So, when you now get to the sex therapist, next thing they do is to work on your mind. You need to know that anything about sex comes from the mind.


So, if your mind is not in the right place, it can’t work. Why do some men struggle to satisfy women? Why is it that it’s not working for the women? It’s probably because you’re not touching her right,” Anene admonished.

“Most of the time, I always tell guys they don’t listen to women. Women are telling you what works for their body but you don’t want to listen because you think you’ve been with other women that kissing them on the lips works. You now go to the next person and it’s not working and you think you’re the problem. But she has told you. Everybody’s body is unique and different. Anita’s body is not going to work like Nike’s body.

Sharon’s body is not going to work like Nike’s body. So, how do you know what works for your woman? It starts with a conversation. If you don’t have communication with her, you cannot know what works. You need to ask: what works for you? It also goes down to telling women to understand their body first before they can explain to a man. So, if you don’t know your body as a woman, how do you want to explain to a man how to satisfy you?

So, women need to understand their body. They need to understand the major private organs for sex that they carry. Women also need to stop seeing sex as a chore.” Speaking on what to drink and eat for a better sexual experience, Anene said:” People also need to know that what they eat also matters. You hear doctors say “cut sugar off”.


Reduce your sugar intake. Reduce your soda intake. You hear all those kinds of things. We have fruits.

Almost all fruits are very good. We have bananas, pineapples, water melon. These are naturally grown things we should be eating. There are people that don’t know what a fruit tastes like in one whole month. Our body needs Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium. We need to have natural supply of these things. We also need to hydrate properly. What do I mean by hydration?

Taking water! Water is a powerful agent that we neglect so much. You should have at least, two to three litres of water in your body every day. The more hydrated you feel, that’s how much you feel as well. We have natural things that people can fall back to. But the first thing like I said is to see your doctor. I’m not for all those table drinks. I’m not saying they are bad; there are some good ones of course. But the pressure for satisfaction should not be solved by using table drinks when we can do things naturally.”




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