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Urol Clin North Am. 2004 May;31(2):259-73.

Prevention and treatment of erectile dysfunction using lifestyle changes and dietary supplements: what works and what is worthless, part II.

Author information

1
Department of Urology, University of Michigan Medical Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0330, USA. moyad@umich.edu

Abstract

It seems naïve to believe that some plants or herbs do not contain specific compounds that could benefit patients with ED. Many supplements have not been investigated in a laboratory or clinical research setting before commercial sale, however,which creates a complex situation. If efficacy is or is not demonstrated through adequate research, then the benefit or lack thereof cannot be mentioned on the label. Furthermore, clinicians and the public cannot be made aware of which compounds or supplements are effective because no general standards for sale exist under the current guidelines. Dietary supplements have received a tremendous amount of publicity. The large and growing market for ED treatment seems to have contributed partly to the promotion of numerous supplements and their apparent benefits. Whether these dietary supplements have merit is questionable. Some supplements may produce results opposite to those advertised. Other supplements may be enjoying the benefits of the placebo effect. Because a placebo response of 25% to 50% has been recorded in clinical trials with effective agents, it is understandable that some supplements enjoy financial success despite the limited research espousing their use. If one to two of four individuals or one of three individuals who try a dietary supplement gain some benefit for their ED, the market for these supplements will remain extraordinary. On a larger scale, of 100,000 men who try a supplement, approximately 25,000 to 50,000 will claim some success. The challenge for clinicians is to discuss the placebo response properly and the need for good research before any intervention, especially supplements, can be advocated for general use. Table 2 summarizes some popular ED supplements and general conclusions that can be drawn from clinical investigations. Some dietary supplements may have an active ingredient that benefits patients with certain types of ED. An exciting area of future dietary supplement research is the ability of certain agents to have a synergistic effect with prescription agents for ED, thereby improving response rates in men that have failed approved ED therapy initially, especially with oral agents. Randomized clinical trials are the best method of determining which dietary supplements will become a part of conventional medicine. Therefore, more randomized trials for dietary supplements are needed so that they may have the opportunity to become a part of the mainstream milieu, which means that more funding needs to be made available for ED research. The coming years of research should bring enormous excitement and objectivity to this area of medicine.

PMID:
15123406
DOI:
10.1016/j.ucl.2004.01.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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