Why Are Goats Horny And How Do I Get My Hands On One?


The New York Attorney General recently targeted GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart for selling misleading and/or adulterated dietary supplements.

The supplement industry is a 30 BILLION dollar a year industry and half of Americans are taking a self-prescribed supplement.  How do we know that the products we take are safe?  How do we know that the product is actually what the label says it is?  How do we know it will do what the manufacturer claims? And what the heck is Horny Goat Weed anyway?

Here is a list of ingredients in the most popular products sold by the largest retailer of dietary supplements, GNC.  These products are marketed to men to “improve sexual health”.

Ginseng:  The most common ingredient in sexual health supplements.  It works by increasing nitric oxide production which results in better blood flow in the penis.  The molecules responsible for this action are distributed unevenly through the plant so there will be variability in concentration in the final product.  Use in diabetic men is not advised due to blood sugar effects.  Ginseng appears to be safe, however, with minimal adverse effects.  While studies support its use, the small number of studies prevents me from recommending it as first-line therapy.

Zinc:  Zinc deficiency is associated with low testosterone and supplementing men with zinc deficiency resulted in reversal of the low testosterone.  But zinc is so plentiful in the Western Diet that a true deficiency is rare.  Supplementing zinc in men with normal zinc levels does not result in increased testosterone.

Magnesium:  Magnesium deficiency is rare and has not been associated with any sexual disorders.  No studies have shown a relationship between supplementing magnesium and improved sexual function.

Tribulis terrestris:  A common weed found in many products.  Advertisers claim that T. terrestris improves sexual and sports performance by increasing testosterone.  Although there are a few animal experiments showing an increase in testosterone, there are no human studies showing this.  In fact, the human studies show no difference in ED or testosterone with T. terrestris use.  There are also cases of seizures and severe liver toxicity associated with T. terrestris and supplements rarely specify the amount of T. terrestris contained in each dose. Buyer beware!

Selenium:  No studies can be found on sexual health.  There are studies that associate low selenium levels and prostate cancer, but supplementing a normal selenium level did not decrease risk of prostate cancer.

B-vitamins:  Mood, arousal, libido, and energy can be associated with low B-vitamin levels and supplementation can improve these aspects of Men’s Health.

Fenugreek (aka “methi”):  There is one published report showing improved sexual function with Trigonella foenum-graecum, especially arousal and orgasm.  There was no change in testosterone levels.  No adverse effects were reported.  This is an exciting one!

L-Arginine:  Nitric oxide is essential for normal erectile function and impaired NO activity is associated with ED.  L-Arginine is the precursor of nitric oxide and supplementing with L-Arginine has been shown to raise NO levels.  This did not translate to better erectile function, however.

Maca:  A vegetable used in Peru for centuries to improve “male sexual health”.  There are two studies using mice that did show increased sexual behavior and improved semen parameters.  The mechanism of action is unknown and no human studies have shown any improved function.  If you are a mouse, feel free to use it.

DHEA: This is a tough one.  For every study showing improved testosterone and sexual function, there is another study showing no change at all.  DHEA is one of least common ingredients found in supplements leading me to believe that it is not effective or advertisers would be promoting the heck out of it.

Ginkgo biloba: The study that put Ginkgo biloba on the map was later shown to have possible misrepresentation of the data and statistical miscalculations.  Subsequent studies showed no benefits in sexual health, but did find some major complications including major bleeding and seizures with reported fatality.  Probably want to stay away from this one.

Horny Goat Weed:  Remember all the advertising?  I do!  The extract of the Epimedium plant has never been studied in humans.  The rat studies are limited.  Can’t really recommend this.  And that’s too bad because it has such a great name.

I am a Urologist in Phoenix, AZ specializing in Men’s Health.  I perform the Urolift procedure as well as penile implant surgery and penile straightening procedures.  I do not claim to be an expert in supplements, but I can help figure out which ones might help you and which might hurt you.  I can also help you figure out if there is another way to address whatever your problem is.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 


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