ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
5 Reasons why you could gain weight while dieting
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons
EYE CARE, VISION
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Be Healthy, Spend Less
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?

FRIDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A Chinese herbal remedy known as "horny goat weed" may indeed live up to its name as a natural version of Viagra.

Italian researchers report that laboratory studies show that the compound has the potential to treat erectile dysfunction, and possibly with fewer side effects than its pharmaceutical cousin.

"No in-vivo studies in an animal model have been performed at this regard, so a lot of work must be done. We would like to test in vivo [with animals] the molecule to understand if it really works in humans," said study lead author Mario Dell'Agli, of the University of Milan's laboratory of pharmacognosy. "At this stage of the research, we cannot say if the molecule we have synthesized possesses less side effects with respect to Viagra. However, this derivative seems to be in vitro [in lab tests] more selective than Viagra, because it targets [an enzyme involved in blood flow to the penis] more precisely."

The study was expected to be published in the Oct. 24 issue of the Journal of Natural Products, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

Viagra (sildenafil) is one of several prescription medications available and widely prescribed for erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects an estimated 18 million men in the United States. Viagra and other drugs like it can cause side effects such as headache, stomach problems and visual disturbances.

Horny goat weed, hailing primarily from southern China, has a long history as an aphrodisiac.

As part of a new screening program to find natural alternatives to Viagra, the study authors analyzed a number of herbal extracts long used for male impotence, including Ferula hermonis or Lebanese Viagra; Cinnamomum cassia or Chinese cinnamon; as well as Epimedium brevicornum aka horny goat weed. All three extracts are reputed to improve sexual performance.

The main active component of each extract was tested against an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase-5A1 (PDE5A1), which regulates blood supply to the penis. Inhibition of this enzyme results in more blood flow to the penis, resulting in an erection.

Icariin, the active ingredient of horny goat weed, inhibited PDE5A1 to a greater degree than the other compounds tested.

"The novelty of this work is the new molecule we have synthesized by icariin," Dell'Agli said. "It is derived by chemical modifications of the structure of icariin, which is the active ingredient purified from E. brevicornum (horny goat weed). The mechanism by which the molecule we have found might work in humans is the inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE 5) in the corpus cavernosum [erectile tissue in the penis], which is the mechanism by which Viagra works. This is an in vitro study. It can be considered a pre-clinical study."

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more on erectile dysfunction.



SOURCES: Mario Dell'Agli, Ph.D., laboratory of pharmacognosy, University of Milan, Italy; Oct. 24, 2008, Journal of Natural Products

Last Updated: Oct. 03, 2008

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