Herbal Viagra - What's Up With It?

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Herbal viagra has been in the news a lot this week because of it reportedly being the reason that Lamar Odom is in a coma. So what's up with herbal viagra? What's it made of and does it work and is it safe?

The Mayo Clinic claims that they can be very dangerous for several reasons, namely that they do not target the penis:

Some of these products do contain substances that improve blood flow by relaxing the walls of blood vessels. However, none of them focuses specifically on blood vessels in the penis, as do Viagra and similar prescription drugs. As a result, these so-called "herbal viagra" supplements can cause dangerously low blood pressure in some men — particularly men who take nitrate medications for heart problems. In addition, some products marketed as "herbal viagras" have been pulled off the market because they contain undeclared prescription medications.

The herbal viagra pills linked to Lamar Odom were the subject of an FDA warning issued in March of this year. The FDA sternly warned that...

Laboratory analysis confirmed that Herb Viagra contains sildenafil, the active ingredient in the FDA approved prescription drug Viagra, used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). This undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates.

The FDA included this image with their notice...

"Public Notification: Herb Viagra contains hidden drug ingredient"

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.48.08 AM

So what are the typical ingredients found in herbal viagra? According to Wikipedia the most popular herbs are epimedium (horny goat weed), damiana, ginseng, ginkgo, yohimbe, saw palmetto, maca, Muira puama, and Tribulus terrestris. However, there are often actual non-approved viagra type drug ingredients included.

Bottom line, you don't know what you are ingesting when you swallow an herbal viagra type pill. It's not safe and you are risking a heart attack, stroke or death.

They're unsafe, but do they work? There is not much in the way of scientific information available as to whether or not herbal viagra actually does anything. The basic idea is to get sustained blood flowing to the penis and all of the herbal viagra drugs focus on increasing blood flow. The problem is they are not targeted to the penis like the approved drugs are. Websites that sell herbal viagra products endorse their effectiveness whole heartily. An example:

"Herbal Viagra is an effective drug prescribed for erectile dysfunction in men. Herbal Viagra is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, which relaxes the muscles in the penis region. Once the muscles are relaxed, more blood flows into the region, which helps in the erection."