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Ingredients in herbal sexual supplements

Posted: 6:28 AM, Oct 15, 2015
Updated: 2015-10-15 13:28:08Z

Lamar Odom's story is raising a lot of questions about the so-called natural or herbal Viagra-type pills that brothel owner Dennis Hof says Odom was using.

So, what is in them and how many Americans use them?

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears takes a closer look.

You might think herbal supplements or vitamins are safer than prescription drugs, but because they're not regulated by the F.D.A, you may never know exactly what you're taking. 

Despite the risks, it's a booming business.

The Nutrition Business Journal tells us that in 2014 there was $663 million in sales on herbal sexual enhancement products. In 2004, $353 million in sales are reported.

That is a 47% increase in 10 years.

Common ingredients in those pills are horny goat weed, ginseng, vitamin E, pine bark extract and sarsaparilla. 

But a urologist we spoke to says consumers are often in the dark about what they're really putting into their bodies.

"They don't always fully disclose the ingredients on the label," says Dr. Sheldon Freedman.

"The FDA has studied this and a lot of times the herbal products are adulterated with other chemicals and actual prescription drugs that really should be used under the guidance of a physician." 

Mixing those unknown chemicals with alcohol or other medications or drugs can lead to low blood pressure, coma, cardiac arrest and could be fatal.