Erection Problems

FDA Issued Warnings on the Dangers of Herbal Viagra

More and more men are looking to use prescription drugs and herbal supplements to enhance their sexual performance. So called “herbal Viagra” is considered a safe supplement because herbs are seen as benign “natural” substances that won’t cause harmful interactions when mixed with Viagra.

But herbs, unlike pharmaceuticals, are not regulated by the FDA. And often these supplements are mixed with alcohol, a toxic combination that can lead to severe health problems. Now the FDA has issued a number of warnings about these herbal Viagra pills.

Erectile dysfunction drugs work to open, or dilate, the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the penis resulting in an erection. But some of the herbs mixed with Viagra can cause the opposite effect, blood vessel constriction. This push and pull could result in heart attack, kidney failure, and liver failure.

According to Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, at best these supplements could help the user achieve a placebo effect. At worst, the pills could contain poison and seriously endanger someone’s health.

He said younger men especially rely on these pills when psychological stress, a busy schedule, or over consumption of alcohol, makes achieving an erection difficult. For older men, Viagra or Cialis can be useful with the changes age can bring to a man’s sexual health. But the herbs mixed with erectile dysfunction drugs can have serious interactions with other medications an older man may be taking. For instance, many of the drugs could also interact dangerously with medication such as nitrates, used to treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions.

The FDA warned that most herbal supplements sold on the Internet do not contain pure ingredients, even though they have words like “all-natural” on the labeling. The FDA has no standards or testing for herbal supplements.

Online sales of these drugs are hard to control, and the FDA has listed several brand names on their website for consumers to watch out for, including Libidus, Nasutra, and Hero. The FDA also states that only six of the 17 herbal drugs tested contained sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra). In many cases, the pills contain a random combination of herbs, and little to no sildenafil.

Talk to your doctor if you’re having problems achieving and maintaining an erection. Several solutions exist, including exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes. Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs can be useful when used appropriately under a doctor’s supervision. But any pill claiming to solve erectile dysfunction, whether over the counter or prescription, should not be taken recreationally or without your physician’s guidance and recommendations.