Mother Nature May Improve Your Mojo, But At What Cost?

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Suzy-Cohen-1Dear Pharmacist,
I have a new girlfriend (I’m 58) and I want to take an over-the-counter (OTC) sex supplement because I can’ t tolerate the medications. What is your opinion of these and what should I look for?
H.E., Sand Springs, Oklahoma
Answer:  Get your hormone levels checked because taking sex pills is like trying to jump start your car every two miles instead of just fixing the battery! When there are imbalances in your DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone, estrogen, cortisol or thyroid hormones, sex drive goes down a dead end, for both men and women.  Also, high levels of inflammatory chemicals (CRP, interleukin, homocysteine) could reduce sex drive, cause erectile problems and also, be your first sign heart disease.

I’m not fond of OTC sex pills because they don’t fix the problem; inferior brands are contaminated and worst of all, people combine these seemingly harmless supplements with prescribed medications.  Herbal supplements work in a similar way as prescribed drugs, so they share the same side effects and interaction profile.  OTC sex pills could interact with blood pressure pills and heart drugs (especially “nitrates”). 
Here is a guide to some ingredients in these supplements:

Yohimbe –Dilates arteries so it increases blood flow down south, but it may raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. 

Pumpkin Seed – Eat these and sunflower seeds too. They support prostate health, which in turn puts more punch in your pajamas. 

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) – Related to turnips and cabbage, maca provides minerals and fiber, and may increase sperm count. However, I’m not convinced it promotes erections. 

L-Arginine – This amino acid helps create “nitric oxide,” which improves blood flow to the heart and nether regions in both men and women.

Tribulus terrestris – Boosts testosterone, the “manly” hormone, so it sparks desire and improves performance in the bedroom and at the gym. 

Ginseng (Siberian Eleuthero, Panax or Korean) – Relaxes muscles in the penis like Viagra does, and eases fatigue in both men and women. Ginseng thins the blood so be careful with anticoagulants (ie warfarin, Plavix, ginger, ginkgo, aspirin, etc). 

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) – Relieves prostate symptoms such as weak stream, night urges (to urinate that is) and improves your mojo. 

DHEA – The ‘fountain of youth’ supplement may boost sex drive in men and women, and ease erectile problems, but too much may can cause cancer.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa) – An aphrodisiac, this herb raises happy brain chemicals while relaxing muscles on the prostate. Damiana may alter blood sugar levels and kidney function. Don’t combine with alpha-blocking drugs like Remeron (mirtazapine), Hytrin (terazosin) or Flomax, or Cardura (doxazosin). 

Horny Goat Weed – Just cause farm animals get aroused on the weed, doesn’t mean that humans do!
Minerals –Calcium, zinc, boron, selenium or magnesium among others. Magnesium stands out as the shining star because it helps you utilize calcium; it dilates arteries so it lowers blood pressure. 

Did You Know?
An old drug just got approved in a new form. Voltaren Gel is an anti-inflammatory gel which people with arthritis can apply to their painful knees or hands.