The armed spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) or banana spider — which gets its latter name from having been found in banana shipments — is one of the most toxic spiders in the world. Its bite is known to cause a severe stinging pain at the site of the wound at first, per Live Science, and eventually leads to goosebumps, high or low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, nausea, stomach cramps, hypothermia, blurred vision, and even death if the person doesn’t seek immediate medical attention. It also causes prolonged and painful erections.
The compound in question, which has now been synthetically produced and named BZ371A by scientists, works by triggering a release of nitric oxide, which is a molecule that plays a crucial role in erections. It helps the muscles in the penis to relax, per Healthline, while boosting blood flow to the area. Researchers seem to think that the compound derived from spider venom will work differently from other erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, which inhibit an enzyme called PDE5 in order to promote the release of nitric oxide (via NBC News).
Current erectile dysfunction medicines, however, don’t work on everyone. While high blood pressure causes erectile dysfunction, there are side effects like low blood pressure with the use of Viagra. The hope with this research is that the wandering spider’s venom can become an option for people looking for alternative treatments.