ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating your way to Good Health
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
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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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