Herbal Impotence Pills Get Some Scientific Scrutiny
WebMD News Archive
She intends to follow the women in her study to determine the compound's
long-term effects, and hopes to launch a larger trial. But how does a Stanford
professor become involved in testing an herbal supplement in the first
The theory behind the product made sense to her, she says. "I felt it
was a group of people who understood you need to develop some data. It's a
small start-up company, so we're not talking about mega trials, but there
should be some critically evaluated information. ... And I think we've shown
As for supplements in general, "who knows what all this stuff out there
does for people?" Polan says. "Of course, if you live in California,
many people use nutritional supplements as their sole source of medication. ...
I never know what to tell patients, so when I see medications that at least
have data behind them, I feel more comfortable."
Buyer beware, says one of the country's top prostate cancer surgeons,
William Catalona, MD, a urologist with Washington University School of Medicine
in St. Louis. He has seen thousands of men facing sexual dysfunction.
And he's heard bad reviews of the herbals: "A lot of [patients] try
these medications. And some feel they help a little bit, but most of the word I
get would not suggest that they are effective. ... Patients ask, but I usually
don't recommend them because [they] haven't been tested and approved by the FDA
to show they are safe and effective."
While the theory about L-arginine "could conceivably work," says
Catalona, "I'm not sure there's any practical evidence to show it really
does this. ... Even though [Ito's] studies look positive, there's not absolute
proof at this point. With Viagra, it's been through the FDA, so we know it's
definitely effective. As for its safety, the safety guidelines are pretty
"What you see in some advertising for herbals [is] they jump all over
the fact that Viagra is said to cause deaths," he adds. "So I have a
lot of patients who [don't have heart disease] or anything else that would make
Viagra dangerous to them, but their wives won't let them take it. ... So some
people who are afraid of Viagra take these things."