HARD TRUTHS

The secret ingredient in “natural Viagra” is—surprise!—Viagra

Hey gentlemen! Interested in an herbal, all-natural alternative to Viagra, with no prescriptions or doctor visits required?

Well, too bad. There is no herbal, all-natural alternative to Viagra. There are a lot of products advertised as herbal substitutes for Pfizer’s wildly popular erectile dysfunction drug, but those claims are as realistic as the hope that refinishing patio furniture might suddenly turn sexy.

An ongoing investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration has identified hundreds of allegedly “natural” sexual enhancement supplements that in fact contain pharmaceutical compounds like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) and tadalafil (found in competitor drug Cialis).

The products are typically sold online or in small independent convenience stores. And while people who buy sexual aids at places that also sell Slim Jims and slushees may be comfortable with a certain level of risk, they’re unlikely to realize that the chemicals in these “natural” supplements can lead to serious complications for men taking drugs for diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

With subtle names like Ninja Mojo, Love4Long, and STUD Capsules, these products are part of a larger trend in phony supplements that promise a quick fix for buyers’ physical insecurities.

An FDA database of dietary supplements containing undisclosed drugs lists almost 800 products in the realms of sexual enhancement, weight loss, and bodybuilding.

“There is no magic supplement that you can take that will help you to lose weight. There are pharmaceutical drugs that will help you to lose weight,” FDA spokesperson Lyndsay Meyer said. “Same with bodybuilding. There’s no magic pill that will help you bulk up your muscles, but steroids will certainly do that.”

Read next: This chart of Viagra’s uplifting effect on drug prices is the greatest thing ever

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