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Science File | Science in Brief

I Didn't Know That. . .

May 20, 1999

Q: Does Vigorex, an herbal product for erectile dysfunction, really work?

A: Probably not, according to experts. Vigorex is a so-called homeopathic drug. Homeopaths believe that a substance that causes symptoms at high doses can cure the same symptoms when given at low doses. The herb Nux vomica, for instance, contains strychnine, which causes vomiting. Homeopaths believe that very small doses of N. vomica can relieve nausea. But the key is that the agents are diluted so much that virtually nothing remains. That is why homeopathic drugs have no adverse interactions with other drugs--there is nothing there to react with. According to the prestigious Medical Letter, "These products have not been proven to be effective for any clinical condition. There is no good reason to use them."

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