Local plant boosts sex drive, brain function, ulcer fight
More studies have validated the potential of a local herb, Carpolobia lutea; to boost sexual performance in men, brain function especially in old age, heal ulcers, among other diseases.
Carpolobia lutea, commonly called cattle stick or poor man’s candle belongs to the plant family polygalaceae. The common names, which the plant is known include cattle stick (English), Abekpok Ibuhu (Eket), Ikpafum, Ndiyan, Nyayanga (Ibibio), Agba or Angalagala (Igbo) and Egbo oshunshun (Yoruba).
Carpolobia lutea is a small plant that often grows to 15 feet in height. People of Southern Nigeria consume its juicy fruits. The plant is well distributed in West and also Central Africa. It is popularly known in Southwest and South Eastern Nigeria particularly among the Eket tribe as a potent aphrodisiac.
Carpolobia lutea is widely used by traditional herbal practitioners to treat male erectile disorders and facilitate delivery. The root decoction is reportedly used as malarial remedy, anti-inflammatory/anti-arthritic, anthelmintic and anti-sterility agent. Ethno-botanical survey has revealed that the root decoction of Carpolobia lutea is used to enhance sexual activity.
Male sexual dysfunction, which mostly includes erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation, is the most common problem that contributes to infertility, distress, relationship problems and low quality of life.
Several studies have shown that while sexual dysfunction rarely threatens physical health, it can bring a heavy psychological toll: depression, anxiety, and debilitating feelings of inadequacy. ED accounts for 45 per cent of male sexual dysfunction in Nigeria.
ED is experienced some of the time by most men who have reached 45 years of age, and it is projected to affect 322 million men worldwide by 2025. ED is usually underestimated in many developing countries including Nigeria probably because it is not a life-threatening condition and due to the associated stigma.
Results of a study published in Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology suggest that methanol extract of Carpolobia lutea root (MECLR) enhances male sexual activity possibly by augmenting nitric oxide concentration.
The study provides a novel scientific rationale for the use of Carpolobia lutea in the management of penile erectile dysfunction and impaired libido. The study is titled “Comparative evaluation of the aphrodisiac efficacy of sildenafil and Carpolobia lutea root extract in male rabbits.”
The researchers include: Ayobami Dare, Olufadekemi Tolulope, Kunle-Alabi, Opeyemi Oreofe Akindele and Yinusa Raji of the Department of Physiology, Laboratory for Reproductive Physiology and Developmental Programming, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State; and Shakiru Ademola Salami of the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Lagos State University, Ikeja, Lagos.
The results showed that MECLR caused a dose-dependent significant increase in mount frequency; intromission frequency and ejaculatory latency (EL) while it reduced mount latency, intromission latency and post EL (similar to SC) when compared with the control. MECLR also caused significant increase in nitric oxide concentration in corpora cavernosa but no change in serum testosterone concentration.
Results of another study published in journal Revista Internacional de Andrologia showed that Carpolobia lutea roots restore sexual arousal and performance in paroxetine-induced sexually impaired male rats.
The study revealed that the extract contained saponins (21.02 mg/L), anthraquinones (5.11 mg/L), alkaloids (2.93 mg/L), flavonoids (1.82 mg/L), tannins (0.91 mg/L) and cardiac glycosides (0.09 mg/L) whereas terpenes, phlobatannins and steroids were not detected. Paroxetine significantly decreased mount frequency, intromission frequency, ejaculation frequency and ejaculation latency whereas it increased mount latency, intromission latency and post-ejaculatory interval for more than the baseline of 25 per cent in each case.
In contrast, all the doses of the extract significantly attenuated the parameters of sexual behaviour displayed by the sexual dysfunction animals, with the 141 mg/kg body weight comparing favourably with the sexual dysfunction animals treated with Powmax. In addition, the extract significantly elevated the levels of serum luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone and testosterone, which were hitherto reduced by paroxetine.
The researchers concluded: “The study concludes that the aqueous extract of Carpolobia lutea root especially the doses of 94 and 141 mg/kg body weight restored various components of sexual arousal and performance as well as the reproductive hormones in the sexually sluggish male rats with the highest dose being the most effective. Present findings provide experimental evidence to support the folkloric claim of the plant in the management of sexual inadequacies in males.”
Also, researchers at The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom (U.K.) have found that a plant extract used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
Their study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, has shown that the extract taken from the leaves, stem and roots of Carpolobia lutea, could help to protect chemical messengers in the brain which play a vital role in functions including memory and learning.
Lucky Legbosi Nwidu, Ekramy Elmorsy, Jack Thornton, Buddhika Wijamunige, Anusha Wijesekara, and Rebecca Tarbox conducted the study titled “Anti-acetylcholinesterase activity and antioxidant properties of extracts and fractions of Carpolobia lutea”.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells causes memory loss and cognitive decline. A neurodegenerative type of dementia, the disease starts mild and gets progressively worse.
Neurodegenerative diseases represent a huge health burden globally, placing pressure on health services and having a negative impact on the lives of patients and their families.
Herbalists in Nigerian tribes use the essence of the root as an aphrodisiac and the treatment of genitourinary infections, gingivitis, and waist pains. The tree extract could pave the way for new drugs to tackle patient symptoms but without the unwanted side effects associated with some current treatments.
Dr. Wayne Carter in the University’s Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, based at Royal Derby Hospital, led the study. He said: “As a population we are living longer, and the number of people with dementia is growing at an alarming rate. Our findings suggest that traditional medicines will provide new chemicals able to temper Alzheimer’s disease progression.”
Until now, researchers and drug companies are racing to discover new treatments for these disorders and have begun looking to plant extracts as a potential source of novel drugs. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and myasthenia gravis, the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is reduced, leading to problems with memory and attention.
Current drugs — called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors — reduce the normal breakdown of acetylcholine. Extensive research is underway to find new versions of these drugs but with additional beneficial properties.
The Nottingham study found that the plant was highly effective in preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine but had other beneficial antioxidant properties in fighting free radicals — unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells and contribute to ageing and disease — damage that may be exacerbated in Alzheimer’s disease.
Meanwhile, another study published in Inflammopharmacology showed that extracts of Carpolobia lutea could provide novel treatment for ulcers.
The researchers noted: “Leaves from Carpolobia lutea (Polygalaceae) were screened to establish the antiulcer ethnomedicinal claim and to quantitatively isolate, elucidate the active compounds by semi-preparative HPLC. The anti-nociceptive effects of Carpolobia lutea (CL) G. Don (Polygalaceae) organic leaf extracts were tested in experimental models in mice. The anti-nociceptive mechanism was determined using tail-flick test, acetic acid-induced abdominal constrictions, formalin-induced hind paw licking and the hot plate test. The fractions (ethanol, ethyl acetate, chloroform, n-hexane) and crude ethyl acetate extract of CL (770 mg/kg, i.p.) produced significant inhibitions of both phases of the formalin-induced pain in mice, a reduction in acetic acid-induced writhing as well as and an elevation of the pain threshold in the hot plate test in mice.
“The inhibitions were greater to those produced by indomethacin (5 mg/kg, i.p.). Ethyl acetate fraction revealed cinnamic and coumaric acids derivatives, which are described for the first time in literature. These cinnamalglucosides polyphenols characterised from CL may in part account for the pharmacological activities. These findings confirm its ethnomedical use in anti-inflammatory pain and in pains from gastric ulcer-associated symptoms.”
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