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Herbal Impotence Pills Get Some Scientific Scrutiny

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Nearly 88% of the participants who got ArginMax reported achieving better erections, and 75% said they had an improved sex life overall. Even the placebo group said they had better sex: 18.75% reported improved erections, and 18% reported an overall better sex life during the study. All the patients were checked for blood pressure and appetite changes, but no side effects were detected, says Ito, who is conducting additional studies at a Veterans' Hospital in northern California.

For women having sexual problems, a similar ArginMax formulation is being tested, Mary Polan, MD, PhD, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine, tells WebMD. She presented results of her preliminary study of the product at an international meeting on female sexual dysfunction in Boston last fall.

Her trial involved 49 women either nearing or at menopause, all reporting sexual dysfunction. "Across the board, there was a significant increase in sexual satisfaction in the women on the drug compared to the control women," Polan says. Some 76% of the group on the ArginMax formulation reported improved sexual desire, while 72% had greater satisfaction in their sex lives, 64% had an improved sexual relationship with their partners, 60% had better clitoral sensation, and 52% had more frequent orgasms.

The placebo effect definitely came into play, as in the men's study, Polan tells WebMD. In one category, for example, "Thirty percent of women got better on the placebo. But 60% of women get better on the drug. So there's a significant difference."

Polan says she was encouraged by the results. "I take care of a lot of peri- and post-menopausal women, and probably the second biggest complaint is decreased or ineffective sexual functioning." Currently, there is no similar drug for women nearing menopause, although estrogen-replacement therapy is reported to improve sexual functioning in menopausal women. There have been no large-scale trials of Viagra involving women, Polan tells WebMD.

The women's compound contains L-arginine, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and the herb damiana, which is supposed to promote the relaxed state of mind that is important for sexuality in women, Polan says. Vitamins and minerals also were added.

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