"Natural" Viagra Alternative Is The Real Thing

The concern about over-the-counter health remedies is often that the products contain no helpful ingredients and customers are plunking down money for nothing. Researchers in Miami, however, have found something much more disturbing: A "100 percent natural" product sold over the Internet to cure impotence actually contains about 55 milligrams of sildenafil, better known by the brand name Viagra, per capsule. The effectiveness of the compound may not be in question, but its safety is. Viagra is legally available by prescription only and, according to product information, should not be taken if a person is also taking medications containing nitrates. If the two are combined, blood pressure could plummet, leading, in some instances, to a heart attack or stroke. Nitrates are found in medications used to treat angina as well as in some recreational drugs. Alberto J. Sabucedo, a faculty member with the International Forensic Research Institute, part of the chemistry department at Florida International University in Miami, first learned that a product called Actra Rx, made by Body Basics, might contain sildenafil. The tip came from a journalism student, Mauricio Gutierrez, at the same university.

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