Objective: To evaluate the effect of an extract of Butea superba (Roxb.) (BS) compared to sildenafil for treating erectile dysfunction (ED).
Patients and methods: An open label study was carried out among 32 men with organic ED to evaluate the response on the International Index of Erectile Function 5 (IIEF-5) to BS, a 'natural health' product (100 mg), compared to 50 mg of sildenafil (a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor). After a 1-week wash-out, responders to BS received either 100 mg starch or 100 mg of another batch of BS (double-blind).
Results: Of the patients in the BS group, 27 (84%) responded positively, compared with 26 (81%) in the sildenafil group. When assessing the score alone, 12 (38%) had a better score after taking BS, compared to seven (22%) after sildenafil, and eight (25%) had the same score. The results were surprising and could not be repeated in the double-blind part of the study, where no effect of BS was recorded.
Conclusions: A 'natural' health product containing BS was more effective than sildenafil in the first part of the study, but in the second, using another batch of BS, the positive result could not be repeated and no effect was recorded. The conclusion is that the first preparation of BS was most likely blended with a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor, later confirmed by the supplier of BS (a natural health products company) after their own analysis.