Popular honey-based sexual supplements may not be as natural as you think.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to four companies that sell honey-based sexual enhancement supplements. The agency found the active ingredients in Cialis and Viagra—prescription meds used to treat erectile dysfunction—in the supplements.
In a press release on Tuesday, the FDA said internal lab testing found tadalafil (Cialis) and sildenafil (Viagra) in products with names including “Royal Honey for Him” and “X Rated Honey for Men.” The FDA said these drugs pose a serious risk to consumers taking other prescription drugs with nitrates (like nitroglycerin), medications used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Interaction could lead to dangerously low blood pressure levels.
“Tainted honey-based products like these are dangerous because consumers are likely unaware of the risks associated with the hidden prescription drug ingredients in these products and how they may interact with other drugs and supplements they may take,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, via the FDA’s release.
The four companies mentioned by the FDA include Thirstyrun LLC (also known as US Royal Honey LLC), MKS Enterprise LLC, Shopaax.com, and 1am USA Incorporated dba Pleasure Products USA. The honey-based sexual supplements were sold online and maybe even in select retail stores, according to the FDA.
The companies issued warnings have 15 days to either address the issues of their products, or provide information on why their products don’t violate the law. Failure to do so will result in legal action, like product seizure, according to the press release.
An Unregulated Industry
Supplements live in an unregulated market and aren’t vetted by the FDA.
The supplement “Royal Honey for Men” claims to deliver ultimate power and is “the most potent and natural source of sexual power and testosterone,” according to their marketing. Listed ingredients include tribulus terrestris (a fruit-producing plant), tongkat ali (a shrubby tree), and ginseng (a root), all popular ingredients in testosterone boosters and sexual supplements.
“People should be very leery taking many of the products and supplements, because they’re unregulated, and most people don’t know what’s actually in them,” said Franklin Lowe, M.D., vice chairman of the Department of Urology at Montefiore Medical Center and a professor at Albert Einstein School of Medicine, to NBC News.
“What is on the label doesn’t necessarily correlate to what’s actually in the bottle or in the pill. And this is a perfect example of that,” Lowe added.
A Growing Danger
These warnings come as the FDA’s list of tainted sexual enhancement products grows. In April, the FDA warned of close to a dozen other honey-based sexual supplements with hidden drugs. And in 2019, the FDA warned that sexual enhancement pills sold online could contain hidden ingredients like sildenafil, the active ingredient of Viagra.
“It’s extremely important for men experiencing erectile dysfunction to talk to a doctor about their symptoms,” says Jack Jeng, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Hone Health. “Erectile dysfunction is a risk marker for cardiovascular disease and may be caused by underlying problems like low testosterone. A doctor can review your medical history and order lab tests to determine the best course of action. If medication is appropriate, your doctor will provide a prescription and monitor for side effects and efficacy.”