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She's wearing black, silk lingerie, has Barry White on the stereo and is batting her eyes. Performance anxiety kicks in. What to do?

He reaches for the ... cranberry sauce?

According to herbal health expert James A. Duke, cranberries "might" have some "Viagra-like effects" for those suffering from impotence and frigidity.

Claire DeLoid, of Carver, eats cranberries every single day. She said she stumbled upon Duke's suggestion in his book "Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs." It was she who brought the information to the public's attention.

"I just laughed when I read it," she said. "Can I become the Cranberry Princess if I increase the sale of the cranberry? I want to be directly responsible for that."

DeLoid already has a name for a new drink to replace the Cape Codder.

"We need to have a new cranberry drink out there - The Cranbery Banger!" she said, laughing. The story has brought laughter to several growers as well.

"I guess I got a chuckle out of it," cranberry grower Craig Weston said. "I'd say it's very interesting and kind of comical in my eyes." But "might" is the operative word here. Duke doesn't cite a study proving the claim. Professionals who have made cranberries their life's work couldn't cite any such studies either.

"There hasn't been any study that we're aware of," Jeff LaFleur, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Association said, laughing. "There was one study looking at anti-oxydents and increased blood flow. One could make the huge leap and try to say, OK, it improves blood flow so that must be it."

Plymouth urologist, Dr. Craig Gillard, warned that, while cranberries help maintain urinary track health and help cure infections, they have been linked to kidney stones.

Studies have shown the many health benefits of cranberries. They've been proven to increase blood flow, to have anti-oxidants critical in the fight against cancer and heart disease, to help cure urinary tract infections and have even been linked to preventing tooth decay.

In October, BBC News reported a Taiwanese study that showed the berry could treat the genital herpes virus. Lab tests showed a compound in the cranberry called proanthocyanidin A-1 suppressed the herpes infection. It didn't stop the virus from causing infection, but it did reduce its effects.

Is it time for a study on the cranberry's ability to cure impotence and frigidity? For an industry that's seen some major downturns in recent years, growers say such a finding could mean big bucks.

"For years everybody joked that the best way out of the surplus (of the cranberry) was to get the word out that cranberries are an aphrodisiac," cranberry grower John Decas said. "It would be nice if something like that could be clinically proven. If it's a reality, we really ought to find out."

DeLoid said she's seen a definite change in her health that could well be due to her cranberry consumption. "I didn't know it was the cranberries," she said. "I do have an immense vitality and I'm far from frigid, so maybe the cranberries are having an effect."

Duke's suggestion, proven or not, is already jamming the fax machines of folks that want to know more about this cranberry "cure."

"True or not, there's going to be a lot of men that are going to try it anyway," DeLoid said. "Maybe the ladies should too."

Sam Fields

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