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Yet it would be ill-advised to discount the possibility of local lore identifying a bioactive plant well before modern science.
After all, willow branches were chewed for centuries to relieve fever and pain before scientists were able to isolate salicin from its bark—a discovery which led to aspirin.
I had gotten a greenish light to write a piece for a major outlet, but it hinged upon finding a new angle to the story.
Flustered, I Googled again, finding every mention of this orgasmic mushroom study.Indigenous cultures have a wealth of knowledge, particularly about local plants and animals, hidden (or not so hidden) in their myths, legends, medical practices, and songs that are passed from generation to generation. “Hey, really random-seeming question: have you ever heard anything about an orgasm-inducing mushroom, maybe related to a fertility ritual or something? As a haole, I’m not as familiar with Hawaiian traditional knowledge, but I figured if the Māmalu o Wahine legend was true, she’d have heard something about it.“In all my memories of terrestrial forestry stuff, I don’t remember anything about any kinds of mushrooms,” she wrote back.It wasn’t likely that such a legend would have been kept secret, she noted. There are many sexual innuendos in things like ‘ōlelo no‘eau and mele (wise sayings and poems and music).We have a good one about crabs.” I asked if she’d be willing to ask around just in case, and she did. “Not in my usual channels of ‘ike at least.” [‘ike=knowledge] I was going to have to dig a little deeper to find the answers I was looking for, so I kept digging.
The IFLS post had gone viral with hundreds of thousands of social media shares and who knows how many views.