Takunda Dube, 32, says he has struggled with erectile dysfunction and low libido since he was 21.
The condition is common, but can be a frustrating and embarrassing experience for many.
“I couldn’t maintain an erection and this problem started when I was 21.
“I’ve tried doctors, but still can’t find a lasting solution,” Dube said.
But Dube says he never gave up and drank all types of concoctions as his body was also unresponsive to other sex enhancing pills such as Viagra.
It was only on the day that he was directed to downtown Harare where there are souvenir shops selling a 330ml ‘drink’ known as ‘kombucha’ which is proving popular with of men suffering from a decrease in libido.
The neatly marked 330ml brown and white kombucha bottle sells for US$1
“But after I started using the kombucha drink, I’m happy even though I’m still looking for a permanent solution because the thought of getting married sometimes scares me,” Dube said.
Now I make sure I have an extra Kombucha drink in case it runs out.
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast.
It is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mixture to ferment.
The resulting liquid contains vinegar, vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Another satisfied customer, who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity, said peer pressure prompted him to buy the Kombucha drink.
“I used it once and my wife asked me why I had so much energy.
“I think the Kombucha drink was specifically designed to boost male sexual libido,” he said.
“I usually buy tadalafil at the pharmacy to treat erectile dysfunction, but I can’t afford to buy it every time, so I only have sex when I have money for it. buy the drug.”
So many people are resorting to street herbs instead of modern drugs for the treatment of their health problems despite the negative effects of uncertified herbal medicines on people’s health.
Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it’s more common in men over 75, according to urologist Milton Lakin.
It can also be the result of something as mild as the side effects of a medication on a completely different health condition.
Other causes include hormonal imbalances, diabetes, obesity, neurological problems, nerve disorders, untreated mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
But an underlying condition doesn’t even have to be present.
Lack of sleep, stress, or having one drink too many can also cause problems in the bedroom.
Harare doctor Johannes Marisa said people resort to traditional medicines because of their affordability and some perpetuated beliefs that they are effective.
“There is a general belief that conditions such as sexual dysfunction can be corrected through the use of traditional drugs and because some people believe that sexual dysfunction is the result of misfortune or evil spirits, which pushes people to resort to traditional drugs,” Marisa said.
“The issue of affordability of Western drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction is a cause for concern.
“Drugs like tadalafil, sildenafil are not affordable for everyone, which drives people to resort to illicit drugs or drinks like kombucha.”
Kombucha is smuggled in from Zambia.
One of the dealers told The Standard they bribed police, military and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials at legal and illegal crossing points to smuggle smuggled drinks.
“We communicate before we even reach the border and give details of the car, such as color, license plate and type of car,” he said.
“So when we arrive they don’t open to check what we are carrying because we would have communicated with them beforehand.”
A Zimra official also said the product was being smuggled into the country.
Zimra Communications Manager Francis Chimanda said: “There is no record of its importation or any encounter with the product during our various enforcement activities at ports of entry or any other areas under the jurisdiction of Zimra.”
Customers between the ages of 30 and 40 buy Kombucha drinks as soon as grocery stores on Mbuya Nehanda Street in Harare open in the morning.
According to wholesalers and retailers, only male customers buy Kombucha drinks.
“Usually we open our store around eight in the morning and our first customers are men who buy Kombucha drinks every day,” Portia Moyo said, pointing to the single bottle of Kombucha in a refrigerator.
“My male friends who use it say the drink is very effective in treating erectile dysfunction.
“We sell over 60 bottles a day and have made sure we always have some in stock as it has been in demand since February this year.
“We only display one bottle and sell from the store because we’ve heard people say it’s illegal.”
Police spokesman Deputy Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police were still in discussions with Zimbabwe’s Medicines Control Act for an official position.
“Some say it’s a traditional herb to cleanse the male system and some say it’s a concoction to boost male sexual potency so there’s no one position…we always engage MCAZ so that we were analyzing it and finding a position,” Nyathi said.
“However, regardless, smuggling is a criminal offence.”
MCAZ Acting General Manager Richard Rukwata reiterated that the Kombucha drink is just a fermented tea with perceived health benefits.
“Kombucha is very popular in some Asian countries and it’s sold as a soft drink in Asian states and many other places around the world. If people buy it and it’s very popular, we don’t think that ‘there is anything nefarious about it,’ Rukwata said.
The Kombucha drink made in Zambia is so popular that there is now a Zimbabwean version of the ‘Kambucha’ drink made in Harare which some say is an imitation.