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Sexual Functioning Enhancement Supplements

Posted on 18 May, 2015 at 21:05

Deborah Brauser, a medical Journalist for Medscape Medical News recently attended the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting. There have been some recent studies on supplements people may take for sexual dysfunction or arousal, although natural there are some concerning trends. Active ingredients such as yohimbe, maca, gingko biloba, and horny goat weed are linked to a number of psychiatric outcomes.


NEW YORK ― Ingredients in sexual enhancement products advertised and sold online are associated with several serious psychoactive effects, new research shows.

A review of 108 Web sites and other online resources showed that the most common of these products contained the active ingredients yohimbine, maca, ginkgo biloba, and/or horny goat weed. These 4 substances were linked to the induction of anxiety, panic, mood changes, hallucinations, and/or addictive behaviours.

"There are different compounds that have sexual enhancement properties, but they can also have psychiatric effects, such as acting as a stimulant or predisposing someone for a manic episode," Giovanni Martinotti, MD, PhD, from the Department of Neuroscience and Imaging at the G. d'Annunzio University in Chieti-Pescara, Italy, told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers note that they wanted to raise public awareness about the adverse effects of these products, most of which are not regulated. In addition, they suggest that clinicians should ask their patients about use, especially because additional adverse reactions can occur when mixed with psychiatric medications.

"The possible impact on population health, particularly among subjects with

psychiatric disorders, who are usually at risk for sexual dysfunction, may be significant," they write.

The results were presented here at the American Psychiatric Association's (APA's) 2014 Annual Meeting.

Drastic Increase in Use

Use of herbs and supplements has "drastically increased" during the past few years, note the investigators.

"Indeed, various sexual enhancer products, labelled as 'herbal' or 'all natural' and claiming to improve sexual stamina and enlarge penis size, have become increasingly popular," they write, adding that this is largely due to being readily available over the Internet.

"This phenomenon…represents a serious challenge from a clinical and a public health perspective."


Between February and July 2013, the researchers used Google to search 108 English and Italian Web sites, including e-commerce sites, e-newsgroups, chat rooms, and online video channels. They also used the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, which is described as a secure online "warning system" that monitors media reports in 6 languages.

After the most common sexual enhancement products were identified, the PubMed and PsycInfo databases were used to search for reported psychological and pharmacologic side effects.

Results showed that the products that had the most significant psychoactive properties were yohimbine, maca, horny goat weed, and ginkgo biloba.

Yohimbine, which can be extracted from a variety of plants and blocks alpha-2 adrenoceptors at both the pre- and postsynaptic level, is advertised as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, as a sexual performance enhancer, and as a weight loss and bodybuilding supplement.

However, it is also associated with the adverse effects of anxiety and agitation, as well as gastrointestinal distress, hypertension, and tachycardia.

Uncontrolled Availability

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian plant that has been used as an energizer and to treat infertility and sexual dysfunction ― but it also contains a tetrahydro-beta-carboline acid, which may play a role in increasing craving and addictions.

Horny goat weed has been associated with hypomanic symptoms, as well as tachyarrhythmia and vasculitic rash.

Categories: Sexual Functioning, Sexual Dysfunctions, Sexual Health

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