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Jun 4
Viagra is a commercial produced medicine containing Sildenafil citrate, which is used to treat male erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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In another post I mentioned that fasting for 16 hours may reduced jet lag, well there are also some other treatments which can help get over long flights. We are all very familiar with the famous blue pill Viagra (sildenafil), and other drugs that are treatment for erectile dysfunction. Research in rodents suggests that Viagra has a few extra tricks up its sleeve including reducing jet lag (published in PNAS). The researchers shifted the animal circadian cycle 6 hours (simulating a flight across 6 time zones) and it took 12 days for the rodents to adjust to the new cycle (similar to at least a week for humans) but it only took 8 days for the animals that received Viagra (70 micrograms). The mechanism behind Viagra ability to reduce jet lag shown by the scientist appears to be an increase in cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate). Interestingly, an article in the distinguished “Science” journal demonstrated that Every-other-day fasting (EODF) (one form of calorie restriction) also increase cGMP. Therefore, Viagra and fasting might decrease jet lag by using the same biological mechanism, increasing cGMP.

For those that want to test out the Viagra brain jet lag hack (covered in new scientist); the researchers suggested that the rodent dose used in the experiment would translate into only a small fraction of the normal pill dose that humans use to increase penile erection function.

So now all you jet setters have two brain hacks (fasting, Viagra) to test out to reduce jet lag the next time you jaunt off several times zones away. Maybe a combo would even be better. Let me know your results of your self experiment.

Thanks JB for the suggestion.

Here are some other links about Viagra additional effects and using fasting to overcome jet lag:

May 27

Many of us have to travel as part of our job, and the rest of us travel for holidays, but all of us would rather not suffer from jet lag. It takes up to a week for a body to adjust to the new time zone (if it is enough hours different to induce jet lag) since our body can only adjust a bit each day. By that time many of us our flying back home – more jet lag.

Published in the prestigious Science journal researchers (Fuller, Lu and Saper,2008) from Harvard University findings in animals suggest that the simple act of fasting (no calories consumed) 16 hours before your flight may reduce jet lag. The reason the scientist think this might work is because normally the body’s clock is set (and adjusted) by exposure to light however, food can also be used to set the clock.

When you have normal amounts of food intake our circadian rhythms are governed by the light-dark cycle. But if food access is restricted to when we normally sleep there will be a shift in our circadian rhythms so we are alert during our new feeding times (your past night time). Hence, the researchers found that fasting can override your normal light-dark controlled clock as a survival feature to keep us alert to seek and hunt out food.

Now this research has so far only been tested in animals and not in humans, but what do you have to lose by trying this brain hack? Additionally, not all the details have been worked out of what should you do depending on how many time zones you are jumping. But here is my practical advice (with all appropriate warnings about self experimenting) set up your schedule so you fast for a prolonged period prior to your flight and eat in your new location during daylight time, which should correspond to your normal sleep time (darkness) back home.

Try it out on your next jump to Asia or Europe and drop me a message of how it worked out. I know I will be trying it out on my next long flight.

Additional coverage: Reuters