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. 2014;2014:841798.
doi: 10.1155/2014/841798. Epub 2014 Jun 15.

Sexual Enhancement Products for Sale Online: Raising Awareness of the Psychoactive Effects of Yohimbine, Maca, Horny Goat Weed, and Ginkgo Biloba

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Sexual Enhancement Products for Sale Online: Raising Awareness of the Psychoactive Effects of Yohimbine, Maca, Horny Goat Weed, and Ginkgo Biloba

Ornella Corazza et al. Biomed Res Int. .
Free PMC article


Introduction: The use of unlicensed food and herbal supplements to enhance sexual functions is drastically increasing. This phenomenon, combined with the availability of these products over the Internet, represents a challenge from a clinical and a public health perspective.

Methods: A comprehensive multilingual assessment of websites, drug fora, and other online resources was carried out between February and July 2013 with exploratory qualitative searches including 203 websites. Additional searches were conducted using the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN). Once the active constitutes of the products were identified, a comprehensive literature search was carried out using PsycInfo and PubMed.

Results: The most common sexual enhancement products available on the Internet were identified. Their active ingredients included yohimbine, maca, horny goat weed and Ginkgo biloba. These four substances were reported with the occurrence of adverse events and the induction of psychological symptoms, such as mood changes, anxiety, and hallucinations as well as addictive behaviours.

Conclusions: Uncontrolled availability of sexual enhancement products that contain potentially harmful substances is a major public health concern. The possible impact on population health, particularly among subjects with psychiatric disorders, usually at risk for sexual dysfunction, may be significant. This new trend needs to be extensively studied and monitored.

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    1. Pratap SA, Rajender S. Potent natural aphrodisiacs for the management of erectile dysfunction and male sexual debilities. Frontiers in Bioscience. 2012;4:167–180. - PubMed
    1. Campbell N, Clark JP, Stecher VJ, et al. Adulteration of purported herbal and natural sexual performance enhancement dietary supplements with synthetic phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2013;10(7):1842–1849. - PubMed
    1. Kenyon SL, Button J, Perella P, McKeown DA, Holt DW. An herbal remedy for impotence: more than was bargained for. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2006;46(11):1379–1381. - PubMed
    1. Venhuis BJ, Zwaagstra ME, van den Berg JDJ, et al. Illicit Erectile Dysfunction Products in the Netherlands. A Decade of Trends and a 2007–2010 Product Update. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment; 2011.
    1. Evans-Brown M, McVeigh J, Perkins C, Bellis MA. Human Enhancement Drugs: The Emerging Challenges to Public Health. North West Public Health Observatory; 2012.

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