Viagra was originally created as a treatment for high blood pressure, in a Sandwich, Kent laboratory owned by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, in the UK. Only after the chemical compound, sildenafil citrate, was created did researchers realize its true potential as an aid in the fight against erectile dysfunction. But now, researchers have discovered yet another possible use for this versatile little blue pill: fighting jet lag.
According to the BBC, Argentine scientists have run an experiment using hamsters to determine whether or not Viagra helps treat jet lag. Interestingly, it works. The drug actually helped the hamsters recover up to 50% faster from jetlag, but there were a couple of catches: first, it only worked if the hamsters were shifting forward in their daily time cycles. In other words, if the hamsters were travelling on airplanes, the Viagra treatment would help to decrease their jet lag up to 50% only if they were travelling eastward.
Second, the Viagra treatment only worked when used in conjunction with another treatment—light therapy. The researchers used light to adjust the hamsters’ time cycles, since their bodily clocks are based on the cycle of light and dark. The hamsters were active on their wheels during the day (lights on), and slept at night (lights off). The scientists then switched their schedule, so that the time at which it became light was much earlier, as it would be if a human were to travel eastwards on an airplane.
When injected with Viagra before the “time shift,” the hamsters were able to adjust much faster to the shift than without the Viagra. The effect even worked when the hamsters were given doses low enough to be ineffective in causing erection.
As reported by CNN.com, in a survey they conducted on methods that are the most successful for treating jet lag, stretching and light exercise came in first place, with a 51% reported success rate. Viagra came in at number five, but was not far behind, with a 45% success rate. Interestingly, “anti-jet lag pills” came in way down at number 11, at 39%–a 5% lower success rate than Viagra. This ranking was only second to last place, which was melatonin, with a 36% success rate in treating or curing jet lag.
In addition to such unofficial reports of Viagra working to treat jet lag in humans, scientists believe that Viagra should theoretically work the same way in humans as it does in hamsters in treating jet lag when traveling eastward, since humans and hamsters operate on similar night/day cycles. However, this also indicates that, like for hamsters, Viagra would only work for people traveling eastward.