Avlimil is a dietary supplement that is being promoted to help alleviate symptoms associated with female sexual dysfunction. It consists of sage leaf, red raspberry leaf, kudzu root extract, red clover extract, capsicum pepper, licorice root, bayberry fruit, damiana leaf, valerian root, ginger root, and black cohosh root. Sexual dysfunction may involve loss of sexual desire, difficulty in maintaining arousal, painful intercourse, or difficulty in achieving orgasm. It may result from factors such as stress, hormonal imbalances, cancer treatment involving surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, use of antidepressants, or menopause. Avlimil is thought to enhance sexual satisfaction by increasing blood flow and by promoting muscle relaxation. Some of the components may improve circulation.
Results from in vitro and in vivo assays showed that Avlimil exhibits both estrogenic (at low concentration) and antiestrogenic (at higher concentrations) effects in a dose dependent manner (4). A small unpublished clinical trial involving 49 women found Avlimil to have a positive effect on sexual response (1). However, the ingredients in the commercial product are different from those used in the study (3).
Avlimil has not been studied in cancer patients. Since this product contains botanical ingredients that have estrogenic effects, it is not appropriate for patients with hormone sensitive cancers.