ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
CAREGIVING
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
FITNESS
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for 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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