Skip to main content

Advertisement

Medicinal plants as potential male anti-infertility agents: a review

Les plantes médicinales dans le traitement de l’infertilité chez le mâle: mise au point

Article metrics

Abstract

For millions of couples, the inability to have a child is a personal tragedy and a large proportion of childless people are confronted with social stigmatization (blame) and personal frustration. Formerly assigned to women, infertility of a couple is nowadays equitably distributed between the two sexes. Among the methods used to treat male infertility problems, medicinal plants have been used empirically as extracts, decoctions, fractions or semi-purified compounds. These herbal products are used in the treatment of a dysfunctioning of the libido, sexual asthenia, erection, and sperm disorders. Pharmacological activities of many of these plants have been shown in vitro using cells, in vivo (on laboratory animals) and human studies. For instance, extracts of Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius and Lepidium meyenii have shown positive effects on sexual desire; while extracts of Astragalus membranaceus, Asparagus racemous, Withania somnifera, Andrographis paniculata and Acanthopanax senticosus improved sperm parameters. Plants provide a treatment option that is affordable and available for infertile couples, and phytotherapy is an essential form of treatment in our health system. However, herbal products are still anarchically used in many regions and countries, and a great proportion of medicinal plants used traditionally to solve male reproductive disorders have not yet been scientifically evaluated. Therefore in this review, we have summarized most of the data dealing with the effects of plant extracts on mammalian reproductive functions.

Résumé

Pour des millions de couples à travers le monde, l’incapacité d’avoir un enfant est vécue comme une tragédie personnelle. Une large proportion d’entre eux est confrontée à des stigmatisations sociales dont les conséquences sont multiples. Jadis attribuées à la femme, les causes de l’infertilité d’un couple sont pratiquement équitablement partagées par des facteurs liés aux deux sexes. Parmi les différentes méthodes de traitement de l’infertilité masculine figurent les plantes médicinales qui sont utilisées parfois empiriquement sous forme d’extraits, de fractions ou de composés partiellement purifiés dans le traitement des difficultés de libido, d’asthénie sexuelle, d’érection et d’anomalies des paramètres spermatiques. Ces différents aspects d’anomalies sont évoqués dans cette revue en relation avec les extraits de plantes utilisés pour les normaliser. Les propriétés de plusieurs de ces plantes ont été démontrées au niveau cellulaire, in vivo sur des animaux de laboratoire et chez l’homme. Par exemple, les extraits de Panax ginseng, de Panax quinquefolius et de Lepidium meyenii ont présenté un effet bénéfique sur la libido, tandis que ceux d’Astragalus membranaceus, d’Asparagus racemous, de Withania somnifera, d’Andrographis paniculata et d’Acanthopanax senticosus améliorent qualitativement et quantitativement les paramètres spermatiques. Les plantes fournissent ainsi un potentiel de traitements abordables et accessibles pour beaucoup de couples infertiles. Cependant, les plantes médicinales sont encore anarchiquement utilisées dans de nombreuses régions, et une large proportion d’entre elles traditionnellement utilisées pour résoudre les difficultés liées à la fertilité masculine n’a pas jusqu’à lors fait l’objet d’investigations scientifiques.

References

  1. 1.

    Shefi S, Turek JP (2006) Definition and current evaluation of subfertile men: review article. Intern Braz J Urol 32:385–397

  2. 2.

    Larsen U, Hollos M (2005) The importance of motherhood: a study of infertility in urban Northern Tanzania, 1–44. http://db.jhuccp.org/ics-wpd/exec/icswppro.dll

  3. 3.

    Feldman HR, Laura R (2004) The use of complementary and alternative medicine practices among Australian university students. Complement Health Pract Rev 9:173–179

  4. 4.

    The Royal Society (1999) Complementary and alternative medicine. Response to the House of Lords inquiry into complementary and alternative medicine. Ref: 18/99: 1–7. Ref: 18/99: 1–7. http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=11299

  5. 5.

    Rates KMS (2001) Plants as source of drugs: review. Toxicon 39:603–613

  6. 6.

    Chapman KR, Chomchalow N (2003) Production of medicinal plants in Asia. In: Batugal PA, Kanniah J, Lee SY and Oliver JT (eds) Medicinal plants research in Asia, vol 1. The Framework and project workplans, Future Harvest, pp. 33–42

  7. 7.

    Light ME, Sparg SG, Stafford GI, van Staden J (2005) Riding the wave: South Africa’s contribution to ethnopharmacological research over the last 25 years. J Ethnopharmacol 100:127–130

  8. 8.

    Okigbo NR, Mmeka CE (2006) An appraisal of phytomedicine in Africa. KMITL Sci Tech J 6:83–94

  9. 9.

    WHO (2002) WHO traditional medicine strategy 2002–2005. Edited by Quick JD, Sawyer J, Thorpe P, Whitney D, Zhang X. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002

  10. 10.

    Kandeel RF, Koussa TKV, Swerdloff SR (2001) Male sexual function and its disorders: physiology, pathophysiology, clinical investigation and treatment. Endocr Rev 22:342–388

  11. 11.

    Dyer SJ, Abrahams N, Mokoena NE, van der Spuy ZM (2004) “You are a man because you have children”: experiences reproductive health knowledge and treatment-seeking behaviour among men suffering from couple infertility in South Africa. Hum Reprod 19:960–967

  12. 12.

    Subramoniam A, Madhavachandran V, Rajasekharan S, Pushpangadan A (1997) Aphrodisiac properties of Trichopus zeylanius extract in male mice. J Ethnopharmacol 57:21–27

  13. 13.

    Kumar SKP, Subramoniam A, Pushpangadan P (2000) Aphrodisiac activity of Vanda tessellata (roxb.) Hook. Ex don extract in male mice. Indian J Pharmacol 32:300–304

  14. 14.

    Zheng BL, He K, Kim CH, et al (2000) Effect of a lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology 55:598–602

  15. 15.

    Arletti R, Benelli A, Cavazzuti E, et al (1999) Stimulating property of Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata extracts on the sexual behaviour of male rats. Psychopharmacology 143:15–19

  16. 16.

    Gauthaman K, Adaikan GP, Prasad VNR (2002) Aphrodisiac properties of Tribulus Terrestris extract (Protodioscin) in normal and castrated rats. Life Sci 71:1385–1396

  17. 17.

    Murphy LL, Cadena SR, Chávez D, Ferraro SJ (1998) Effect of American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) on male copulatory behavior in the rat. Physiol Behav 64(4):445–450

  18. 18.

    Kerr BJ (2007) Normal Spermatogenesis. In: Kandeel RF, Swerdloff SR, Pryor LJ (eds) Male reproductive dysfunction pathophysiology and treatment. Informa Health Care, New York, London, pp. 57–70

  19. 19.

    Ang HH, Ikeda S, Gan EK (2001) Evaluation of the potency activity of aphrodisiac in Eurycoma longifolia (Jack). Phytother Res 15:435–436

  20. 20.

    Ratnasooriya DW, Dharmasiri GM (2000) Effects of Terminalia catappa seeds on sexual behaviour and fertility of male rats. Asian J Androl 2:213–219

  21. 21.

    Ramachandran S, Sridhar Y, Sam SK, et al (2004) Aphrodisiac activity of Butea frondosa Koen. ex. Roxb. extract in male rats. Phytomedicine 11:165–168

  22. 22.

    Tajuddin AS, Latif A, Qasmi IA (2004) Effect of 50% ethanolic extract of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry (clove) on sexual behaviour of normal male rats. BMC Compl Altern Med 4:1–7

  23. 23.

    Tajuddin AS, Latif A, Qasmi IA, Amin KMY (2005) An experimental study of sexual function improving effect of Myristica fragrans Houtt (nutmeg). BMC Compl Altern Med 5:1–7

  24. 24.

    Makarova NM, Pozharitskaya NO, Shikov NA, et al (2007) Effect of lipid-based suspension of Epimedium koreanum Nakai extract on sexual behavior in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 114:412–416

  25. 25.

    Thakur M, Dixit VK (2007) Aphrodisiac activity of Dactylorhiza hatagirea (D. Don) Soo in male albino rats. Evid Based Compl Altern Med 4:29–31

  26. 26.

    Carro-Juarez M, Cervantes E, Cervantes-Mendez M, Rodriguez-Manzo G (2004) Aphrodisiac properties of Montanoa tomentosa aqueous crude extract in male rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 78:129–134

  27. 27.

    Chiu HJ, Chen KK, Chien MT, et al (2006) Epimedium brevicornum Maxim extract relaxes rabbit corpus cavernosum through multitargets on nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate signaling pathway. Inter J Impotence Res 18:335–342

  28. 28.

    Watcho P, Wankeu-Nya M, Nguelefack BT, et al (2007) Prosexual effects of Dracaena arborea (wild) Link (Dracaenaceae) in sexually experienced male rats. Pharmacology on line 1:400–419

  29. 29.

    Abdulwaheb M, Makonnen E, Debella A, Abebe D (2007) Effect of Catha edulis Foresk (khat) extracts on male rat sexual behavior. J Ethnopharmacol 110:250–256

  30. 30.

    Ali ST, Rakkah NI (2008) Probable neuro-sexual mode of action of Casimiroa edulis seed extract versus [correction of verses] sildenafil citrate (Viagra™) on mating behavior in normal male rats. Pak J Pharm Sci 21:1–6

  31. 31.

    Yeh KY, Pu HF, Kaphle K, et al (2008) Ginkgo biloba extract enhances male copulatory behavior and reduces serum prolactin levels in rats. Horm Behav 53:225–231

  32. 32.

    Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K, et al (2002) Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia 34:1–7

  33. 33.

    de Andrade E, de Mesquita AA, Claro de AJ, et al (2007) Study of the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Asian J Androl 9:241–244

  34. 34.

    Al-Qarawi AA (2005) Stimulatory effect of the aqueous extract of Ruta chalepensis on the sex organs and hormones of male rats. J Appl Res 5:206–211

  35. 35.

    Luo Q, Li Z, Huang X, et al (2006) Lycium barbarum polysaccharides: protective effects against heat-induced damage of rat testes and H2O2-induced DNA damage in mouse testicular cells and beneficial effect on sexual behavior and reproductive function of hemi-castrated rats. Life Sci 79:613–621

  36. 36.

    Mallick C, Mandal S, Barik B, et al (2007) Protection of testicular dysfunctions by MTEC, a formulated herbal drug, in streptozotocin induced diabetic rat. Biol Pharm Bull 30:84–90

  37. 37.

    Hamden K, Silandre D, Delalande C, et al (2008) Protective effects of estrogens and caloric restriction during aging on various rat testis parameters. Asian J Androl 10:837–845

  38. 38.

    Carreau S, Bourguiba S, Delalande C, et al (2008) Estrogens and male reproduction. Curr Med Chem Immunol Endocrinol Metab Agents 8:59–65

  39. 39.

    Carreau S, Genissel C, Bilinska B, Levallet J (1999) The estrogen sources in the testis and the reproductive tract of the male. Int J Androl 22:211–213

  40. 40.

    Xu X, Yin H, Tang D, et al (2003) Application of traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of infertility. Hum Fertil 6:161–168

  41. 41.

    Guay TA (2007) ED2: erectile dysfunction = endothelial dysfunction. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 36:453–463

  42. 42.

    Moundipa FP, Kamtchouing P, Koueta N, et al (1999) Effects of aqueous extracts of Hibiscus macranthus and Basella alba in mature rat testis function. J Ethnopharmacol 65:133–139

  43. 43.

    Moundipa FP, Beboy ESN, Zelefack F, et al (2005) Effects of Basella alba and Hibiscus macranthus extracts on testosterone production by adult rat and bull Leydig cells. Asian J Androl 7:411–417

  44. 44.

    Moundipa FP, Ngouela S, Kamtchouing P, et al (2006) Effects of extracts from Hibiscus macranthus and Basella alba mixture on testosterone production in vitro in adult rat testes slices. Asian J Androl 8:111–114

  45. 45.

    Nantia AE, Moundipa FP, Beboy ESN, et al (2007) Étude de l’effet androgénique de l’extrait au méthanol de Basella alba L. (Basellaceae) sur la fonction de reproduction du rat male. Andrologie 17:129–133

  46. 46.

    Haeri S, Minaie B, Amin G, et al (2006) Effect of Satureja khuzestanica essential oil on male rat fertility. Fitoterapia 77:495–499

  47. 47.

    Yakubu MT, Akanji MA, Oladiji AT, Adesokan AA (2008) Androgenic potentials of aqueous extract of Massularia acuminata (G. Don) Bullock ex. Hoyl. stem in male Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol 118:508–513

  48. 48.

    Watcho P, Kamtchouing P, Sokeng DS, et al (2004) Androgenic effect of Mondia whitei roots in male rats. Asian J Androl 6:269–272

  49. 49.

    Kamtchouing P, Mbongue FGY, Dimo T, Jatsa BH (2002) Evaluation of androgenic activity of Zingiber officinale and Pentadiplandra brazzeana in male rats. Asian J Androl 4:299–301

  50. 50.

    Mbongue FGY, Kamtchouing P, Essame OJL, et al (2005) Effect of the aqueous extract of dry fruits of Piper guineense on the reproductive function of adult male rats. Indian J Pharmacol 37:30–32

  51. 51.

    Yakubu TM, Akanji AM, Oladiji TA (2005) Aphrodisiac potentials of aqueous extract of Fadogia agrestis (Schweinf. ex. Hiern) stem in male albino rats. Asian J Androl 7:399–404

  52. 52.

    Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP (2008) The hormonal effects of Tribulus terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction: an evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat. Phytomedicine 15:44–54

  53. 53.

    Drewes ES, George J, Khan F (2003) Recent finding on natural products with erectile dysfunction activity. Phytochemistry 62:1019–1025

  54. 54.

    Xin CZ, Kim KE, Lin SC, et al (2003) Effects of icariin on cGMP-specific PDE5 and cAMP-specific PDE4 activities. Asian J Androl 5:15–18

  55. 55.

    Hnatyszyn O, Moscatelli V, Garcia J, et al (2003) Argentinian plant extracts with relaxant effect on the smooth muscle of the corpus cavernosum of Guinea pig. Phytomedicine 10:669–674

  56. 56.

    Ofusori DA, Oluwayinka OP, Adelakun AE, et al (2007) Evaluation of the effect of ethanolic extract of Croton zambesicus on the testes of Swiss albino mice. Afr J Biotechnol 6:2434–2438

  57. 57.

    Park KS (2007) Korean ginseng induces spermatogenesis in rats through the activation of cAMP-responsive element modulator (CREM). Fertil Steril 88:1000–1002

  58. 58.

    Bashandy SAE (2007) Effect of fixed oil of Nigella sativa on male fertility in normal and hyperlipidemic rats. Inter J Pharmacol 3:27–33

  59. 59.

    Bahmanpour S, Talaei T, Vojdani Z (2006) Effect of Phoenix dactylifera pollen on sperm parameters and reproductive system of adult male rats. Iran J Med Sci 31:208–211

  60. 60.

    Rubio J, Riqueros IM, Gasco M, et al (2006) Lepidium meyenii (Maca) reversed the lead acetate induced — Damage on reproductive function inmale rats. Food Chem Toxicol 44:1114–1122

  61. 61.

    Türk G, Sömmez M, Aydin M, et al (2008) Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on sperm quality, spermatogenic cell density, antioxidant activity and testosterone level in male rats. Clin Nutr 27:289–296

  62. 62.

    Lin WH, Tsai MT, Chen YS, et al (2007) Improvement of sperm production in subfertile boars by Cordyceps militaris (Supplement). Am J Chinese Med (35)4:631–641

  63. 63.

    Liu J, Liang P, Yin C, et al. (2004) Effects of several Chinese herbal aqueous extracts on human sperm motility in vitro. Andrologia 36:78–83

  64. 64.

    Peng SJ, Lu RK, Yu LH (1997) Effects of Semen cuscutae, Rhizoma curculiginis, Radix morindae officinalis on human spermatozoa’s motility and membrane function in vitro. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi, 17:145–147. Quoted In: Xu X, Yin H, Tang D, Zhang L, Gosden RG (2003) Application of traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of infertility. Human Fertil (Camb) 6 (4):161–8

  65. 65.

    Fraser LR, Beyret E, Milligan SR, Adeoya-Osiguwa SA (2006) Effects of estrogenic xenobiotics on human and mouse spermatozoa. Hum Reprod 21:1184–1193

  66. 66.

    Rege NN, Date J, Kulkarni V, et al (1997) Effect of Y virilin on male infertility. J Postgrad Med 43:64–67

  67. 67.

    Hong CY, Ku J, Wu P (1992) Astragalus membranaceus stimulates human sperm motility in vitro. Am J Chin Med 20:289–294

  68. 68.

    Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Gonzales C, et al (2001) Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian J Androl 3:301–303

  69. 69.

    Agrawal KSH, Kulkarni SK (2003) Efficacy and safety of Speman in patients with oligospermia: an open clinical study. Indian J Clin Pract 2(14):29–31

  70. 70.

    Devi RP, Laxmi V, Charulata C, Rajyalakshmi A (2004) “Alternative medicine”: a right choice for male infertility management. Int Congr Ser 1271:67–70

  71. 71.

    Tempest GH, Homa TS, Zhai XP, Griffin KD (2005) Significant reduction of sperm disomy in six men: effect of traditional Chinese medicine? Asian J Androl 7:419–425

  72. 72.

    Mkrtchyan A, Panosyan V, Panossian A, et al (2005) A phase I clinical study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang™ versus ginseng and valerian on the semen quality of healthy male subjects. Phytomedicine 12:403–409

  73. 73.

    Shukla KK, Mahdi AA, Ahmad KM, et al (2007) Mucuna pruriens reduces stress and improves the quality of semen in infertile men. Evid Based Compl Altern Med:1–8

  74. 74.

    Elumalai P, Krishnamoorthy G, Selvakumar K, et al (2009) Studies on the protective role of lycopene against polychlorinated biphenyls (aroclor 1254)-induced changes in star protein and cytochrome p450scc enzyme expression on Leydig cells of adult rats. Reprod Toxicol 27:41–45

  75. 75.

    Murugesan P, Muthusamy T, Balasubramanian K, Arunakaran J (2007) Effects of vitamins C and E on steroidogenic enzymes mRNA expression in polychlorinated biphenyl (Aroclor 1254) exposed adult rat Leydig cells. Toxicology 232:170–182

  76. 76.

    Sheweita AS, Tilmisany MA, Al-Sawaf H (2005) Mechanisms of male infertility: role of antioxidants. Curr Drug Metab 6:1–7

  77. 77.

    Holford GHN (2007) Pharmacokinetics pharmacodynamics: rational dosing the time course of drug action drug receptors pharmacodynamics. In: Katzung GB, Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, 10th ed. New York, pp. 34–49

  78. 78.

    Jones CR, Dacheux JL (2007) Physiology of the epididymis. In: Kandeel RF, Swerdloff SR, Pryor LJ (eds) Male reproductive dysfunction pathophysiology and treatment. Informa Health Care, New York, London, pp. 71–80

  79. 79.

    Nicholson DH, Assinder JS (2007) Physiology of the prostate. In: Kandeel RF, Swerdloff SR, Pryor LJ (eds) Male reproductive dysfunction pathophysiology and treatment. Informa Health Care, New York, London, pp. 81–92

  80. 80.

    Gonzales GF, Rubio J, Chung A, et al (2003) Effect of alcoholic extract of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on testicular function in male rats. Asian J Androl 5:349–52

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to P. F. Moundipa.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nantia, E.A., Moundipa, P.F., Monsees, T.K. et al. Medicinal plants as potential male anti-infertility agents: a review. Basic Clin. Androl. 19, 148–158 (2009) doi:10.1007/s12610-009-0030-2

Download citation

Keywords Male infertility

  • Medicinal plants
  • Libido
  • Sexual asthenia
  • Erection
  • Sperm

Mots clés

  • Infertilité mâle
  • Plantes médicinales
  • Libido
  • Asthénie sexuelle
  • Érection
  • Spermatozoïdes