Viagra: Not Just For Erectile Dysfunction Anymore

May Be Effective for Gastroparesis in Men and Women

Sep 1, 2000

Viagra, the anti-impotence drug manufactured by Pfizer, may also be an effective remedy against gastroparesis, a common digestive condition among people with diabetes.

Gastroparesis occurs when the pyloric muscle leading out of the stomach does not relax and let food empty into the intestine. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that Viagra appears to cause this muscle to relax in the same manner that it causes a muscle in the penis to relax and allow for an erection. Their study appears in the August Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Only Tested in Diabetic Mice

Viagra has only been tested in diabetic mice with gastroparesis. However, The Wall Street Journal reported on August 1 that results were so encouraging that a pilot study to try it on men and women will be launched as soon as this month.

Gastroparesis, according to The Wall Street Journal, affects up to 75 percent of people with diabetes. It causes bloating, loss of appetite and in some cases vomiting and dehydration. In addition, gastroparesis can complicate efforts to control blood-sugar levels with medication because it disrupts the timing of the digestive process.

Are Lowered Nitric Oxide Levels the Culprit?

Researchers say gastropar-esis is caused-at least in mice-by a lack of nitric oxide, a compound involved in many different bodily functions, including heart function and the mechanics of having an erection. The researchers worked with diabetic mice that produced lower-than-normal levels of nitric oxide, prompting the researchers to suggest that lowered nitric oxide is the immediate cause of gastroparesis in diabetes. When the researchers injected the mice with insulin, nitric oxide production returned to normal. Their digestion also returned to normal.

"Somehow, increasing insulin leads to increased nitric oxide, which brings about muscle relaxation,'' said Dr. Christopher Ferris, one of the lead researchers.

Viagra Works Faster

Ferris adds that while insulin has this muscle-relaxing effect, Viagra might be a quicker solution for some patients.

The U.S. Public Health Service and other non-corporate sources funded the mice study. Pfizer took no part in the study.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Gastroparesis (Digestion Problems), Insulin, Medications Research, Sexual Issues, Sexual Issues


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