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Jetlag aided by Viagra

23rd May 2007

A team of researchers in Argentina says the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra could help people recover from jetlag - if they are flying eastwards.

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The drug helped hamsters recover up to 50% faster from forward shifts in their daily time cycles, the team found.

But it only worked if used in conjunction with light therapy, similar to that used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study changed the circadian rhythms of hamsters by switching lights on six hours earlier than usual.

These sunlight/darkness cycles help promote activity during the day, and sleep at night.

The team from the National University of Quilmes then monitored the hamsters' activity levels to establish how 'jet-lagged' they were.

Injection of Viagra before the time shift meant the hamsters adjusted to the new time cycle faster, even when low doses of the drug, which did not cause penile erections, were used, they said.

Viagra, the drug sildenafil, was originally developed for the treatment of high blood pressure and angina, and is used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Researchers said it appeared to work by enhancing the light-induced response. Other scientists have called for more research into this use of Viagra.

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