Ex-NBA star (and all around well-liked human) Lamar Odom remains unconscious after being rushed to the hospital from a Nevada brothel earlier in the week. One of the drugs reportedly found in Odom’s system was Reload 72 Hours Strong, an herbal sexual supplement. Odom’s companions also reported that he was using cocaine — another danger, to be sure — but it’s worth giving close attention to Reload and products like it.
In general, the prevailing thought about herbal libido supplements is that they don’t work or that they only sort of work by combining a cocktail of dried herbs that may have a vaguely energizing effect (assuming that they are quality dried herbs in the first place). Ginseng, ginko, saw palmetto, maca — many of the ingredients in Reload are plant extracts that consistently correlate with higher energy levels, clarity of thought, positive feelings, etc. It’s important to note that the plants listed on the backs of herbal supplements aren’t unknowns, they’ve been studied by doctors and academics.
Here’s where things go sideways: libido supplements like Reload aren’t just herbal. They’re also often pharmaceutical, filled with lab synthesized drugs that are only represented by the vague words “proprietary blend” on the label. So the problem isn’t that the supplements don’t work, it’s that they work too well thanks to the fact that the fake-seeming pills are full of very real drugs — served up in a totally unregulated way.
If you thought you were buying ginseng and vitamin B and ginko and a bunch of other herbs you assumed you’d pee out of your system, you might be tempted to take lots, right? It’s something akin to eating 40 vita-gummies. But if that same supplement was filled with real Viagra, taking them by the fistful could lower your blood pressure to a catastrophic degree.