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What Is ‘Herbal Viagra’?

Dorathy Gass

Sadly, the definition seems confusing when it comes to ‘herbal Viagra’. With the recent health tragedy that has left former NBA superstar Lamar Odom hospitalized, there seems to be some questions around the substances he took that resulted in his unresponsiveness. Staff of the Nevada brothel told 911 that Odom had been using cocaine, but they also stated he had taken ten supplements targeted for enhanced sexual performance (a.k.a ‘herbal Viagra) within the three days he was at the brothel.

CNN reports courtesy of blood samples taken, Nye County Sheriff’s office are still investigating on what exactly was in Odom’s system to cause this health episode, the 911 tape seems to reveal it was a supplement by the name of Reload.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public, way back in 2013, to refrain from Reload, as the product contains sildenafil. While this ingredient is in Viagra (which is FDA approved); sildenafil was not included in the list of ingredients within Reload, and could potentially create terrible side effects when mixed with other drugs.
Sure, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Odom also used cocaine, and this could’ve played a more dominant role in his unresponsiveness; experts agree that the public should avoid using sexual performance enhancing supplements, all together.

Unlike the FDA-approved Viagra, men don’t need a prescription to purchase these supplements, and they are less costly than Viagra. Moreover, they are easily accessible: where the public can find them at gas stations, online, and at erotica shops. They may seem more appealing to individuals, as they are perceived to be ‘all-natural’; but experts say this is usually not the case.

According to research, these herbal performance supplements are often tainted with pesticides, commercial paint, printer ink, and sometimes heavy metals. In fact, a 2013 study which was conducted with the assistance of a Pfizer division (the organization that produces the real Viagra) found that a lot of these supplements contained the active ingredient in Cialis, Adcirca, and Viagra; however these ingredients were not provided on the label list. Combining these supplements with other drugs is dangerous, as it potentially could cause an individual’s blood pressure to drop to fatally low levels.

Alexander Garrard, clinical managing director, Washington Poison Center points out that as these supplements are not FDA-approved, so it is difficult to know exactly what ingredients are actually in them. Additionally, regulation around supplements versus prescription drugs varies drastically in the United States. Supplements do not adhere to the same standards as drugs, and companies do not require FDA approval. While they should inform the FDA of what ingredients are in their supplements, sadly most times they don’t.

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