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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 841798, 13 pages
Review Article

Sexual Enhancement Products for Sale Online: Raising Awareness of the Psychoactive Effects of Yohimbine, Maca, Horny Goat Weed, and Ginkgo biloba

1School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK
2Department of Neuroscience and Imaging, University “G. d’Annunzio”, 66100 Chieti, Italy
3Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK

Received 24 February 2014; Revised 23 May 2014; Accepted 26 May 2014; Published 15 June 2014

Academic Editor: Zsolt Demetrovics

Copyright © 2014 Ornella Corazza et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. The use of unlicensed food and herbal supplements to enhance sexual functions is drastically increasing. This phenomenon, combined with the availability of these products over the Internet, represents a challenge from a clinical and a public health perspective. Methods. A comprehensive multilingual assessment of websites, drug fora, and other online resources was carried out between February and July 2013 with exploratory qualitative searches including 203 websites. Additional searches were conducted using the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN). Once the active constitutes of the products were identified, a comprehensive literature search was carried out using PsycInfo and PubMed. Results. The most common sexual enhancement products available on the Internet were identified. Their active ingredients included yohimbine, maca, horny goat weed and Ginkgo biloba. These four substances were reported with the occurrence of adverse events and the induction of psychological symptoms, such as mood changes, anxiety, and hallucinations as well as addictive behaviours. Conclusions. Uncontrolled availability of sexual enhancement products that contain potentially harmful substances is a major public health concern. The possible impact on population health, particularly among subjects with psychiatric disorders, usually at risk for sexual dysfunction, may be significant. This new trend needs to be extensively studied and monitored.