So if herbal supplements meant to be an alternative to Viagra don't really work, how did they gain so much popularity? Simple: Some of them contain Viagra.
In a 2002 recall of a Chinese herbal preparation, Health Canada found that it contained a substance that wasn't an herb and was suspiciously close to sildenafil -- the drug marketed as Viagra. Since that time, at least 50 other studies have identified sexual enhancement preparations tainted with pharmaceuticals, including PDE-5 inhibitors like tadalafil, which is marketed as Cialis, and vardenafil, which is sold under the name Levitra [source: O'Mathuna].
In some cases, these studies, including one that examined products seized in Singapore's red light district, turned up preparations that actually contained ED drugs in excess of the recommended daily dosages.
Looking closer to home, the FDA's Web site is littered with recalls of products that deliver a dose of drugs along with the promise of bedroom bliss. These products were recalled for containing prescription medications:
In fact, that's the biggest risk with these allegedly all-natural preparations. Men who take them don't know what they're really getting, and if they're taking medication for heart conditions (common among those suffering from ED), the results could be extremely dangerous.
If you choose to experiment with such products and they work, be warned that you're probably getting more than a few roots and leaves in your capsule.