Jet Lag Cures
How to prevent and cure jet lag


 

Is Viagra a possible cure for jet lag?


Medication: Viagra (Sildenafil)
  • Cure jet lag: possibly, especially if you're a hamster
  • Help with sleeping: improvement at high altitudes, no effect on the ground.
  • Help staying awake/alert: no effect
After being released to the world in the late 1990s, it seems Viagra is more versatile than previously thought. Due to its properties as a vasodilator (widening of the blood vessels), some people use it to combat high altitude sickness as the widened arteries allow more blood flow throughout the body. Bizarrely there is even evidence it can also be used to extend the life of cut flowers, although it is not clear what initially inspired someone to drop Viagra in a vase of flowers. For travellers, Viagra can apparently help with combatting jet lag but there are a number of important points to consider.
  • Controlled experiments with Viagra and shifting body clocks have only ever been done on hamsters and, at the time of writing, no scientific human trials have been conducted.
  • A survey amongst travellers suggested that around 40% of those who tried taking Viagra as a cure found that it improved the recovery time for jet lag. These results were self-reported (i.e. unverified) and not controlled for the placebo effect or other factors, so it makes the case for taking Viagra more uncertain.
  • The experiments on hamsters found that Viagra adjusted body clocks only for times equivalent to west to east travel. It had no impact on the equivalent of east to west travel. The maximum time tested on the hamsters was a six hour time zone shift and the effect was a 50% recovery time compared to the control group. Reports by travellers using Viagra did not specify how quickly they recovered.
  • Since Viagra has been shown to reduce altitude sickness, this may help some people overcome the effects related to the lower pressure in airline cabins. Lower pressure means less oxygen getting to the brain and this issue has been identified as a contributor to the effects of jet lag.
  • Viagra is a prescription medication. It also has side effects such as a flushing red face, headaches and has serious implications for those with blood pressure and heart issues. These effects may be aggravated when flying in the lower pressure of an airline cabin. As always, seek medical advice before considering taking this medication.
For those travellers considering taking Viagra as a jet lag cure, the best strategy is that it should only be used by those people who already have a prescription and are familiar with the medication. In these cases it can be worth investigating - especially when integrated as part of a wider strategy, or for people prone to altitude sickness.

Sources:

  • Nature | 'Viagra cures hamster jetlag'| 21 May 2007 | doi:10.1038/news070521-1
  • Skyscanner | November 29, 2013 | 'Skyscanner Reveals the Tricks Filipinos do to Avoid Jetlag' | Press Release
  • American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine | February 2005 | 'Sildenafil inhibits altitude-induced hypoxemia and pulmonary hypertension'