In the new Goop sex toy gift guide (which is part of the Goop sex issue), nestled between a $165 deck of sex cards and $44 pubic hair oil, there's a little something for your "sexual energy": mason pine pollen. According to the site, Sun Potion Mason Pine Pollen "may support immunity, metabolism, sexual energy, creativity, and hormone balance."
The pollen comes from pine trees in Yunnan Province, China, and the retailer claims the pollen has undergone a treatment to "unlock the cell walls" to make it more effective. And for $55, you get a tub full of "single origin, high-altitude, cracked cell wall mason pine pollen" to mix into your water or smoothies. But can drinking a smoothie with pollen increase your desire to have sex? Probably not.
Pine pollen is commonly used in Chinese medicine to heal wounds and improve skin, and you can't find it in your average Christmas tree. There's been little to no medical research on the benefits of pine pollen, but one study from 1971 found that pine pollen contains Vitamin D and a little bit of the sex hormone testosterone (and we know increasing a person's testosterone can boost their desire to have sex). However, the amount of testosterone in pine pollen is so infinitesimal (we're talking nanograms) that it probably wouldn't have any effect on your body if you took it orally, according to an independent review of the research on the supplement.
While testosterone drugs have been known to help healthy menopausal women trying to increase their sex drive, these supplements are not like those drugs. Also, natural testosterone supplements are generally not safe unless they've been administered to you by your doctor, Daniel Shoskes, MD, a urologist at Cleveland Clinic said in 2013.
And while evidence suggests that supplements like mason pine pollen probably won't work, there's another important reason to be cautious: Over-the-counter supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there's no way to know whether or not they're safe — even if they claim to be "natural" or from a tree. Before you take a supplement like this one, you should definitely talk to your doctor to make sure they're cool with you taking it and it won't interfere with other medications you take.
Of course, that doesn't mean that people looking to improve their sex lives don't have options — they just may have to look beyond any "magic" pills. There are tons of supplement-free ways to boost your "sexual energy," whatever that may mean for you, like experimenting with different foreplay activities, trying tantric breathing, or expanding your dirty talk vocabulary. There are even ways you can get freaky with food that don't require taking a supplement. The options are really endless. So you do you, just maybe don't take this supplement.