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Herbal mix boosts sperm quality, pregnancy rate

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Tiger nuts with wooden spoon


*Combination of onions, ginger, scent leaf, orange peel, watermelon seeds, carrot, tiger nut, coconut water, dates improves sex drive in men, women

Love is in the air. February is usually associated with love. The celebration is heightened as Valentine approaches. Couples seek for help to better satisfy their partners in bed. Men and women, boys and girls go for sex drive boosting drugs and drinks. Unfortunately most of these products come with unpleasant side effects.

But scientists have in recent clinical studies identified local foods and herbs that can, not only boost sex drive in men and women but improves sperm parameters and pregnancy rate.The recent clinical trial of 40 infertile couples referred to Alzahra Hospital in Iran was published in International Journal of Women’s Health and Reproduction Sciences.

The researchers investigated the efficacy of a combination of seven plants including Allium cepa (onion), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Ocimum basilicum (scent leaf), Cinnamomum verum (cinnamon tree), Citrus sinensis (orange) peel, Citrullus lanatus (watermelon) seeds and Daucus carota (carrot) seeds in boosting fertility and pregnancy rate in humans.

Commonly called cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum verum belongs to the plant family Lauraceae. To the French it is called cannellier de Ceylan while in Nigeria; it is called imeguru or ohio.The herbal combination in a form of 700 mg capsule was taken once daily for six months. Before and after treatment, the patients’ blood and semen samples were collected and analyzed.

According to the results, the number of sperms, overall motility, forward movement, and normal morphology of sperms after treatment showed significant improvement. Also patients’ blood glucose levels meaningfully reduced after treatment. The researchers noted: “The total volume of semen, total cholesterol, testosterone, and Luteinizing hormone (LH) levels did not significantly differ with use of the compound herbal medicine. Seven couples during the study and after six months of receiving medication got pregnant.

“Consumption of compound herbal medicine with the lowest risk and cost, significantly improves sperm parameters. It seems that the mechanism of action is through counteracting the effects of oxidative stress.”LH is a hormone produced by gonadotropic cells in the anterior pituitary gland. In females, an acute rise of LH (“LH surge”) triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum.

The study is titled “The Effect of Compound Herbal Remedy Used in Male Infertility on Spermatogenesis and Pregnancy Rate” was conducted by researchers from Women’s Reproductive Health Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences Tabriz, Iran.

Onion juice
Researchers have shown how fresh onion juice enhanced copulatory behaviour in male rats with and without paroxetine-induced sexual dysfunction.The study was published in Experimental Biology and Medicine. The researchers noted: “Onion (Allium cepa) is one of the most commonly cultivated species of the family Liliaceae, and has long been used in dietary and therapeutic applications. Treatment with fresh onion juice has been reported to promote testosterone production in male rats. Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for enhancing sexual libido and potency. This study aimed to investigate the effects of onion juice on copulatory behavior of sexually potent male rats and in male rats with paroxetine-induced sexual dysfunction. Sexually experienced male rats were divided into seven groups: a control group, three onion juice-treated groups, a paroxetine-treated group, and two groups treated with paroxetine plus different doses of onion juice. At the end of the treatments, sexual behavior parameters and testosterone levels were measured and compared among the groups.

“Administration of onion juice significantly reduced mount frequency and latency and increased the copulatory efficacy of potent male rats. In addition, administration of onion juice attenuated the prolonged ejaculatory latency period induced by paroxetine and increased the percentage of ejaculating rats. Serum testosterone levels increased significantly by onion juice administration. However, a significant reduction in testosterone because of paroxetine therapy was observed. This reduction was restored to normal levels by administration of onion juice.

“This study conclusively demonstrates that fresh onion juice improves copulatory behavior in sexually potent male rats and in those with paroxetine-induced sexual dysfunction by increasing serum testosterone levels.”

Guava leaves
Researchers have demonstrated how ethanol extract of the leaves of guava (Psidium guajava) enhances sperm output in healthy Wistar rats.The study was published in African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences.The researchers from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) noted: “Reactive oxygen species (ROS), among other factors, have been implicated in the aetiology of male infertility. Thus, the roles of antioxidants at improving sperm production and quality are being investigated. The present study was designed to assess the effect of the ethanol extract of fresh leaves of Psidium guajava on the sperm parameters of healthy male Wistar rats.

“A total of 18 rats, weighing between 108-124 g, were divided into 3 groups of 6 animals each. Animals in groups 1 and 2 were administered 250 mg/kg/d and 500 mg/kg/d of guava leaf extract (GLE) orally for 53 days respectively. Group 3 animals received normal saline. Sperm count increased from 56.2+/-0.3 (x10(6)) in the control to 57.1+/-0.2 (x10(6)) in group one animals, and from 56.2+/-0.3 (x10(6)) in the control to 72.3+/-0.4 (x10(6)) in group two animals. Similarly, dose-dependent increases in the percentages of motile spermatozoa were observed in GLE-treated animals compared to the control group. These findings suggest that the extracts of the leaves of Psidium guajava possess beneficial effects on sperm production and quality, and may thus improve the sperm parameters of infertile males with oligospermia (deficiency of sperm cells in the semen) and non-obstructive azoospermia (complete lack of sperm in the ejaculate).”

Ginger
A double-blind randomized clinical trial of ginger extract has demonstrated how it boosts fertility in men.The study was published in the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine. The study is titled “The influence of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on human sperm quality and DNA fragmentation: A double-blind randomized clinical trial.”According to the Iranian researchers, although the effectiveness of ginger as an antioxidant agent has been exploited, little human research has been conducted on its activity on male reproductive functions.

The study was designed to investigate the effects of ginger on sperm Deoxy Nucleic Acid (DNA)/genetic material fragmentation (SDF) in infertile men. The randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial with a 1:1 allocation was performed on 100 infertility treatment candidates who were admitted to Royan Institute for Reproductive Biomedicine, Tehran, Iran. Patients were randomly assigned to receive one of two treatments: ginger and placebo. Patients were given a three-month oral treatment (members received capsules containing 250 mg of ginger powder twice a day in ginger and a placebo in other group). Before and after treatment, standardized semen samples were obtained to determine sperm concentration, motility, and SDF according to World Health Organization

The results showed there was no significant difference between two groups regarding SDF at baseline in cases and in controls. The average positive percentage of SDF in patients receiving ginger was lower compared with placebo after three month of treatment (p=0.02). In multivariate analysis, SDF was significantly lower in patients receiving ginger compared with placebo (mean difference. There were no significant differences between two groups regarding to semen parameters. The researchers concluded: “The present study has demonstrated that ginger in a controlled study of efficacy was effective in decreasing SDF in infertile men.”

Watermelon
The fruit and seeds of watermelon has been show to improve sexual functions.The study published in International Journal Women’s Health Reproduction Sciences is titled: “Effects of Watermelon Seed Extract (Citrullus vulgaris) on
Spermatogenesis in Rat.”

Previous studies confirmed antioxidants have significant effect on infertility by their role on reactive oxygen species. The aim of the study was to see effect of this herb on spermatogenesis.Wistar male rats (n=20) were allocated into two groups, control group (n=10) and Citrullus vulgaris (C.V) group (n=10) that received 55mg.kg-1.day-1 C.V by gavage method for four weeks; however, the control group just received an equal volume of distilled water daily. Animals were kept in standard condition. In 28th day, testicle tissues were collected then prepared for sperm analysis.

Results showed sperm parameters significantly increased in experimental group in comparison to control group.They concluded: “Since in our study 55mg.kg-1 (C.V) has significantly increased sperm population, motility and viability, it seems that using it in infertile patients has beneficial effects.”Also, researchers have investigated the effect of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) flesh extract on sexual behaviour of male rats.

The study was published in Chiang Mai University Journal of Natural Sciences.The effects of red watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) flesh extract on male sexual behavior as well as its adverse effects were investigated using animal models.The suspension of the flesh extract was administered orally at doses of 100, 500 and 1000 mg/kg to different groups of male rats (five) daily for 22 days. The receptive female rats were prepared by hormonal treatment. The mating behaviour was investigated and compared with the standard reference drug, sildenafil citrate. The adverse effects of the plant extract were also evaluated by observing at least once daily for any sign of toxicity, water and food intake, stress and changes in behavior.

The results indicated that oral administration of watermelon flesh extract caused a significant increase in mounting frequency, intromission frequency and ejaculatory latency in first and second series and caused a significant decrease in the mounting latency and intromission latency. The extract at a dose of 1000 mg/kg did not produce clinical signs of toxicity or mortality in any of animals during the treatment duration. The weight of body and reproductive organs showed no significant difference in the flesh extract groups compared to the control group.

The researchers noted: “Based on the aphrodisiac property of watermelon in animal models observed in this present study, this plant may be useful for men with erectile dysfunction. In addition, watermelon flesh extract did not produce undesirable effects on male rats, indicating that its short-term use is apparently safe. Thus, our findings support the use of watermelon flesh for increasing potency in males.”

Tiger nuts
Also, Nigerian researchers have demonstrated how extracts of tiger nuts (Cyperus esculentus) significantly increased gonadotropins, testosterone, and sperm parameters in a dose-dependent fashion.The study published in the Journal of Medical and Applied Biosciences is titled “Effect of Methanolic Extract of Cyperus esculentus L. (Tigernut) on Luteinizing Hormone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Testosterone, Sperm Count and Motility in Male Albino Wistar Rats.”

The authors include: Agbai E.O from the Department of Human Physiology, Madonna University Elele, Rivers State Nigeria; and Nwanegwo C.O from the Department of Human Physiology, College of Medicine, Imo State University, Owerri.Cyperus esculentus is commonly known as earth almond, tiger nut, chufa, yellow nutsedge and Zulu nuts. It is known in Nigeria as aya in Hausa, ofio in Yoruba and akiausa in Ibo.

Cyperus esculentus was reported to help in preventing heart, thrombosis and activates blood circulation, responsible for preventing and treating urinary tract and bacterial infection, assist in reducing the risk of colon cancer, anti-diabetic, weight-losing effect, and possesses anti-sickling property. The researchers found that methanolic extract of Cyperus esculentus significantly increased serum estrogen level as the dose concentration of extract increased, but did not statistically increase follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and prolactin levels.

Extracts of tiger nut has been found to increase the female reproductive hormones oestrogen. This hormone is responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.Agbai E.O and Nwanengwo C. O showed that methanolic extract of Cyperus esculentus significantly increased serum estrogen level as the dose concentration of extract increased.

Research has also shown that vitamin E, present in tiger nut can help trigger normal menstruation and prevent ovulation decline, which is one of the reasons many older women have trouble getting pregnant. It can also be useful for those undergoing fertility treatments, boosting the success rate of pregnancy. Vitamin E plays a very good role in formation and maintenance of the placenta and also prevents premature rupture of the amniotic sac in pregnancy.

Vitamin E present in tiger nut has been known to help increase sperm count, quality and motility. Also Taepongsorat et al. reported that subcutaneous injections of quercetin over a period of one week significantly increased testis weight and improved sperm quality in rats. There have been claims that treatment with C. esculentus methanolic extract improves sperm count and motility in male rats, which is associated with increased gonadotropins and testosterone serum levels.

Tiger nuts are perfect sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In most cases, they help to prevent plaque accumulation in the arteries and improve blood flow to the genitals. Zhang et al. suggested that quercetin could ameliorate erectile dysfunction in diabetic rats by inhibiting oxidative stress. Furthermore, Helmy and Senbel reported that antioxidant therapy with vitamin E ameliorates the age-associated erectile dysfunction in male rats.Another study published in Journal of Experimental and Integrative Medicine suggest that C. esculentus is capable of restoring and boosting sexual competence and the probable mechanism is via enhancement of adaptogenic bioactive principles.

Coconut water
A recent study published in African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences found that coconut (Cocos nucifera) water improves reproductive indices in animal models.The study explored the effects of Cocos nucifera water (CW) on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG) and fertility in Wistar rats. Adult male and female Wistar rats were treated orally as follows; Study 1: Group 1: control (distilled water), group 2: 20 ml/kg corn oil (danazol vehicle), group 3: 20 ml/kg CW, group 4: 40 ml/kg CW, group 5: danazol, group 6: danazol + 20 ml/kg CW and group 7: danazol + 40 ml/kg CW. 200 mg/ kg danazol was administered. Serum levels of LH, FSH, estradiol and testosterone; gonadal weights and sperm indices were assessed.

A follicle-stimulating hormone test measures the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in a blood sample. FSH is produced by the pituitary gland. In women, FSH helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries.

The result showed significant (p < 0.05) increase in estradiol concentration in groups 3, 4, 6 and 7. Significant reductions in LH, FSH, estradiol and testosterone levels were observed in group 5, which were ameliorated in groups 6 and 7. Males showed significant increases in sperm count and motility in groups 3, 4, 6 and 7, and reductions in these variables along with viability in group 5. CW pre-treatment increased fecundity index and proportion of female pups from dams, while the pups from sires showed higher birth weights.The researchers concluded: “CW acts on the HPG to positively influence reproductive function in both males and females and may aid in maternal preconception sex selection of female offspring.” Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera, dabino in Hausa) The extracts of date palm or dates (Phoenix dactylifera) have been shown to enhance sexual behaviour in males and females.The study was published in Advances in Sexual Medicine. The study was titled “Aphrodisiac Activity of Aqueous Extract of Phoenix dactylifera Pollen in Male Rats.” The researchers from the Physiology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. They wrote: “Ancient literature alluded to the use of a number of plants/preparations as sex enhancer. One of such botanicals is Phoenix dactylifera in which the pollen grain has been acclaimed to be used as an aphrodisiac. However, the validity has not been scientifically tested. Dopamine is known to facilitate male sexual function. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of aqueous extract of Phoenix dactylifera pollen on the sexual behaviour of male rats and to measure of serum Estradiol and Testosterone. Also, dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbence (NAc) was studied in male rats using in vivo microdialysis. Sixty male rats were randomized into SIX groups (A-F). Group A received 0.2 ml of Normal Saline mixed with Dimethyl Sulphate (DMSO), while groups B-F were injected same volume containing 35 mg/kg, 70 mg/kg, 105 mg/kg, 140 mg/kg and 350 mg/kg of DPP extract, respectively. Sexual behavioral parameters including mounting, intromission and ejaculation frequencies and latencies were recorded in male rats one hour after injection of extract by mating with a receptive female (1:1). The male serum testosterone and estradiol concentrations were also determined. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In male humans, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Estradiol, also spelled oestradiol, is an estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone. It is involved in the regulation of the estrous and menstrual female reproductive cycles. The results showed that all doses stimulated male sexual behaviour. Extract significantly increased mount, ejaculation, intromission frequencies and ejaculation latency in comparison to controlled ones (p < 0.001). Mount and intromission latencies significantly reduced (p < 0.001). Maximum effect was observed in dose 140 mg/kg. This extract was found to enhance Testosterone, Estradiol and the orientation of males toward female ones by increasing mounting and ano-genital investigatory behaviour. The researchers concluded: “Data from this study identified that the aqueous extract of Phoenix dactylifera pollen grain enhanced sexual behaviour in male rats. The improved sexual appetitive behaviour in male rats may be attributed, to the alkaloids, saponins, and or flavonoids since these phytochemicals has engorgement, androgen enhancing. Also, our findings support the traditional use of this plant as acclaimed aphrodisiac and for the treatment of pre-ejaculation and impotency.” Nutmeg
A review on herbal aphrodisiacs by Indian researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Jamia Hamdard, Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi, India, has identified plants, which exhibited significant pharmacological activity. The study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews is titled “Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs.”The dried kernel of broadly ovoid seeds of Myristica fragrans (Nutmeg) of the family Myristicaceae has been mentioned in Unani medicine to be of value in the management of male sexual disorders. In a study by Tajuddin et al., it was found that administration of 50 per cent ethanolic extract of a single dose of Nutmeg and Clove, and Penegra resulted in the increase in the mating performance of the mice. It was found that out of six control animals only two males mated (inseminated) two females and the remaining four males mated one female each during the overnight experimental period. Whereas, Nutmeg treated male animals mated three females each except two, which mated five females each. In the Clove treated male animals three mated two females each, two mated four females each and remaining one mated three females each. In the Penegra treated animals four mated five females each and two mated three females each.

Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa)
Terminalia catappa is a large tropical tree belongs to the family, Combretaceae a significant aphrodisiac potential. Ratnasooriya et al. observed that T. catappa seeds at dose of 1500 mg/kg or 3000 mg/kg, per oral for seven days in rats had a marked improvement of aphrodisiac action, sexual vigor. In contrast, the higher dose (3 000 mg/kg, p.o.) reversibly inhibited all the parameters of sexual behavior other than mounting.Recent studies have shown that diabetes and its attendant complications (erectile dysfunction/premature ejaculation, leg ulcer/gangrene, liver/ kidney failure), lung cancer and sickle cell anaemia can be addressed with extracts of Indian almond.

Nigerian and Indian researchers have regenerated the pancreas with Indian almond extracts thereby boosted blood sugar regulation, improved sexual and liver/kidney functions in diabetics.

According to a study published in Asian Journal of Andrology, male rats were orally treated with 1500 mg/kg or 3000 mg/kg SS or vehicle, and their sexual behaviour was monitored three hours later using a receptive female. Another group of rats was orally treated with either 3000 mg/kg SS or vehicle for seven consecutive days. Their sexual behaviour and fertility were evaluated on days one, four and seven of treatment and day seven post-treatment by pairing overnight with a pro-oestrous female. The estrous cycle comprises the recurring physiologic changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian placental females.

The results showed the 1500 mg/kg dose, had a marked aphrodisiac action (prolongation of ejaculation latency) but no effect on libido-sexual desire- (per cent mounting, per cent intromission and per cent ejaculation), sexual vigour (mounting-and-intromission frequency), or sexual performance (intercopulatory interval).

In contrast, the higher dose (3000 mg/kg) reversibly inhibited all the parameters of sexual behaviour other than mounting-and-intromission frequency and copulatory efficiency. The effects of high dose SS were not due to general toxicity, liver toxicity, haemotoxicity, stress, muscle deficiency, muscle incoordination, analgesia, hypoglycaemia (reduced blood sugar) or reduction in blood testosterone level. They were due to marked sedation.

White’s Ginger or tonic root (Mondia whitei, isirigun in Yoruba)
Mondia whitei is an aromatic plant of Periploceae family, and commonly known as Isirigun among the Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria.Mondia whitei is from the Periplocaceae family has been used by many traditional medicine practitioners for the management of Erectile Dysfunction (ED). It is used to increase libido and also for the management of low sperm count. Lampiao et al. investigated motility parameters on aqueous administration to human spermatozoa in vitro. Results showed significantly enhanced total motility as well as progressive motility in a time-dependent manner. These support the use of M. whitei especially in men affected with asthenozoospermia.

According to Suresh-Kumar et al. the aqueous and hexane extract of M. whitei showed sexual enhancement in sexually inexperienced male rats. This is due to the reduction of the hesitation time of the sexually inexperienced males towards receptive females as indicated by the significant decrease in the Mounting Latency (ML). This suggest that the aqueous and hexane extract of M. whitei may act by inducing changes in levels of neurotransmitters, modulating the action of these neurotransmitters on their target cells or by increasing androgen levels. It confirms the demonstration of adrenergic effect of aqueous and hexane extracts of M. whitei on chronic administration in vivo in rats.

Goat head (Tribulus terrestris)
Tribulus terrestris is a flowering plant in the family Zygophyllaceae. It is commonly called devil’s thorn, puncture vine, caltrop, yellow vine and goat head. It is a common herb in Nigeria.To the French, it is croix de Malte and abrolhos in Portuguese. In Nigeria, it is dareisa in Arabic-Shuwa, tsaiji in Fula-Fulfulde, hana taakama in Hausa (prevents swagger, in allusion to its thorns piercing the feet-a common expression) or tsaida (to stop because if a thorn pierces the foot one must stop to extract it), kaije in Kanuri, tedo by the Koma people of Adamawa State and da ogun daguro in Yoruba.

Administration of Tribulus terrestris (TT) to humans and animals improves libido and spermatogenesis. Neychev et al. investigated the influence of T. terrestris extract on androgen metabolism in young males. The findings of study predict that T. terrestris steroid saponins possess neither direct nor indirect androgen-increasing properties.

Fadogia agrestis (bakin gagai in Hausa)
Fadogia agrestis belongs to the plant family, Rubiaceae. It is called bakin gagai in Hausa, from gagai meaning aphrodisiac. It possesses significant aphrodisiac potential. Yakubu et al. evaluated the aphrodisiac potential of the aqueous extract of F. agrestis in Male rats. Their sexual behavior parameters and serum testosterone concentration were evaluated.The results showed a significant increase in Mount Frequency (MF), Intromission frequency (IF) and significantly prolonged the ejaculatory latency and reduced mount and Intromission Latency (IL). There was also a significant increase in serum testosterone concentrations in all the groups in a manner suggestive of dose-dependence. The aqueous extract of F. agrestis stem increased the blood testosterone concentrations and this may be the mechanism responsible for its aphrodisiac effects and various masculine be haviors. It may be used to modify impaired sexual functions in animals, especially those arising from hypotestosteronemia.

Velvet bean or Cowhage (Mucuna pruriens, werepe in Yoruba and agbala in Ibo)
Another study published last year in BioMed Research International identified Mucuna pruriens as one of the plants used for improvement of sexual performance and virility. Mucuna pruriens belongs to the plant family Leguminosae. The velvet bean plant is notorious for the spiky hairs on the mature bean pods that are very irritating to the skin.Researchers have shown that Mucuna pruriens enhances fertility by producing a dose dependent increase in follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone which in turn increased the number of eggs released at ovulation possibly through its rich source of L-Dopa and its metabolite, dopamine.The total alkaloids from the seeds of M. pruriens were found to increase spermatogenesis and weight of the testes, seminal vesicles, and prostate in the albino rat.M. pruriens stimulated sexual function in normal male rats which was observed by increase in mounting frequency, intromission frequency, and ejaculation latency.


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