Lamar Odom is Fighting for His Life After Overdosing on “Herbal” Viagra October 14, 2015

Lamar Odom is Fighting for His Life After Overdosing on “Herbal” Viagra

***Update***: Additional reports are saying Odom had also used cocaine in the days prior to this incident, though it’s currently unclear how much of an impact that had on his system.

Last night, Lamar Odom, the former NBA champion who used to be married to Khloé Kardashian, was found unconscious in a Las Vegas brothel. He’s currently on life support.

The cause? According to multiple reports, Odom had taken some sort of herbal Viagra, a “natural” product that likely wasn’t tested in any meaningful way. In fact, the Food & Drug Administration urged people earlier this year to avoid it entirely:

FDA has identified an emerging trend where over-the-counter products, frequently represented as dietary supplements, contain hidden active ingredients that could be harmful. Consumers may unknowingly take products laced with varying quantities of approved prescription drug ingredients, controlled substances, and untested and unstudied pharmaceutically active ingredients. These deceptive products can harm you! Hidden ingredients are increasingly becoming a problem in products promoted for sexual enhancement.

That page also include a long list of specific products along with their hidden ingredients (like sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra that is not-at-all “herbal”).

In other words, if there was something in Viagra that Odom wanted to avoid, he may not have escaped it at all.

This is the sort of thing that can happen with unregulated alternative medicines. They haven’t been tested, they haven’t gone through rigorous clinical trials, we can’t trust their labels, we don’t know all their side effects, and they can cause real damage. It’s tempting to lump all forms of alternative medicine together as placebos that have no actual effect on your body, but some of them include the very ingredients some people are trying to steer clear of in doses your body may not be able to handle.

We know what’s in Viagra. We know how it works. We know the side effects. We can’t say that about these substitutes.

I hope Odom’s condition improves and the whole situation reminds people to avoid untested, unscientific medicine as much as possible. Just because a product claims to be “herbal” doesn’t make it so. And even when it is herbal, that doesn’t mean it’s better for your body.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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