The Quest for What May Be Nature's Most Potent Aphrodisiac

Chris Kilham believes the herb tongkat ali could blow the sexual enhancement market wide open.
7:59 | 10/17/14

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Transcript for The Quest for What May Be Nature's Most Potent Aphrodisiac
We start tonight with a very personal question. Need a boost in the bedroom? If so, you're not alone. Sexual enhancement drugs are multibillion dlarl business in the U.S. Tonight, we're going on an adventure, in dense rain forest where a miracle cure may be hiding. Now, U.S. Companies want it, badly. They have to find it, first. Here's ABC's Gloria Riviera. Reporter: We are deep in the Malaysian rain forest on a quest. To find what may be nature's most potent after deez Ya called tongkat Ali. Officially dubbed nature's vie gag are. Our guide, an American who ref refers to himself as the medicine hunter. You give people tongkat Ali. It's Chinese new year's fireworks in their pants. It works. Reporter: And it could be a game change earl in the U.S. A nation who is obsessed with sexual enhancement and driving a multibillion dollar business. That bark's different. That bark's different. Reporter: That is, if we manage to find it. In dense, impossibly hill little terrain, crawling with predators. One drop of that venom could kill all of us plus all our relatives. I want to know about these. Reporter: Chris is one of the herbal industry's hired guns. What do you do with it? He scours the globe investigating natural remedies. Racing around like a kid opening presents. That promise to make us younger, stronger and sexier. Right now it's about $100 billion a year globally. This is a big, big business. Reporter: And he's staking his reputation on tongkat Ali, an herb already successful in Malaysia. Really good medium for congress cat Ali. Reporter: That most Americans have never heard of. Probably the single most highly prized plant medicine in this country. Reporter: But Chris wants to make tongkat Ali a household name. And he's convinced naturex, one of the herbal industries biggest players that they'll make millions if they back his plan. Chris needs to find a steady source that can sustain American demand. Television star. Our secret weapon, a chain smoking local tribesman who knows the turf. What's the plan? Just go up and look for it. That's the plan. He's so fast. Still hasn't seen any big tongkat Ali, but he says he thinks we'll find it. Finally, over an hour and a half into our brutal hike, pay dirt. Is this it? Oh, my god. We found one. This one right here. Reporter: Finding it is only half the battle. This is going to be so hard to get out. Reporter: It's the root of the tongkat Ali tree, not the bark or the leaves that has medicinal value, that so-called natural vie yag gra component. This has to happen every time? Every single time. Reporter: Wild tongkat Ali is prized, and believe it or not, nobody's figured out how to farm it, which worries Chris, because there may be not enough trees to satisfy a mass market in the U.S. Are we damaging the wild supply? Are we harvesting just enough that it's sustainable? Reporter: Whoa. Six grown men trying to get this thing out of here and it's not moving. Two hours and a lot of creative ma givering later -- Yeah. Reporter: Wow. They unearth a monster haul. Big monster root to pull out of the forest when you're three feet tall. Reporter: That is insane. This root will net him a grand total of 25 U.S. Dollars. He's smiling because he knows this is good stuff. It may seem crazy. All that work for only one root. But Chris themes with local partners and enough guides, his plan to make tongkat Ali a block buster herb in the U.S. Might actually work. Back at the house, we toast our success with a traditional brew that he claims builds endurance for his daily grind. Better sex is just a side benefit. A lot of Americans may soon be taking tongkat Ali for sex. Do you think that's crazy? It tastes okay, but you have to drink it very often. Reporter: You have to drink a lot. Oh, and by the way, he's 40 years old and he's the father of nine children ch. That's perfect. Reporter: Ah. It's bitter. Oh. Okay, so, now I know it tastes gross, but how does it work? Improves muscle strength and endurance. How many kilos do you get in terms of the root from these? Reporter: This scientist working for M.I.T. And the Malaysian government has stud dimmed the effects. It increases the male hormone level. Reporter: And says taking tongkat Ali can boost low testosterone and sperm count. There are lots of different ways to get a sexual function, but certainly, boosting testosterone is one of them. Reporter: And Chris says, unlike most sexual enhancers, this one helps women, too. Up to 1 in 3 American women suffer with low sexual desire. After having my first child, I didn't want to have sex. Reporter: But 34-year-old Alyssa Roberts is one of the few that actually managed to get her hands on tongkat Ali. Within five days, my husband noticed something was different. I had more desire for him. Reporter: The science is shaky, but we did find several studies, some of them industry-sponsored, that support the claim. Is it really an alternative to vie yag gra? Will it work as quickly? No. But it won't cause potentially heart attack, stroke, deafness or blindness. Reporterpg(alet's be clear. Tongkat Ali does not treat E reck tile dysfunction, so, it's not a replacement. But herbs have their own set of risks. Critics complain that fda oversightle of the entire industry is far too lenient. Should herbal supplements be regulated the same way drugs are? Herbal supplements are not drugs. Here, you have ginger, you know, from India. We have green coffee from Africa. Reporter: Chris's boss is sales director for naturex. Selling processed herbs to most major brands. He sails more robust regulation would drive costs too high. So, this is how it comes in, absolutely raw. Yes. Reporter: And know they have trusted quality control standards. Herbal manufacturers are know or the youls for cutting corners. There's some bad apples. The real question is, you know, who are the xeechls who are making good products. Who are the ones doing it right? Twho are the ones that are just making a fast buck and putting out garbage? Very high quality. Reporter: After Chris's expetition, naturex finally decided to roll the dice on tongkat Ali. It's a natural, easy and affordable way to regain your manhood, in a way. Reporter: Regain your manhood. Right. Reporter: Or womanhood, because even an herbal E van jell list like Alyssa won't have the to search very far to reclaim her mojo, in the bead room and beyond. Our sex life is great now. For every ailment, there is an herb. And people are starting to pay attention. Reporter: This is where the medicine hunter earns his credit. For "Nightline," Gloria Riviera, Malaysia.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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