Indian wonder herb can treat male infertility

Infertile men can be treated effectively with extracts obtained from seeds of Mucuna pruriens, a plant popularly known as velvet bean, a new study has found.

Scientists in the biochemstry department at the Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU) here say they have treated a number of male infertility cases using specific doses of seeds from the plant, which is readily available in India.

“We have got encouraging results and observations while offering the treatment to as many as 400 infertile men in a phased manner with the seed extract of Mucuna for at least six months,” said Abbas Mahdi, a senior faculty member at CSMMU and a member of the research team.

After the treatment, the researchers noticed remarkable improvement in the factors responsible for fertility.
The infertile men were in the age group of 25-40 years.

“We were elated to observe increased sperm concentration, motility and improved semen quality in the infertile groups,” added Mahdi.

According to researchers, Mucuna’s seed extract also recovered the levels of lipids, anti-oxidants, vitamins and fructose, in the seminal plasma that are essential for normal sperm metabolism.

The researchers say Mucuna seed extract derives its potency to treat male infertility from a number of bioactive constituents, particularly L-DOPA (Dopamine) that acts on the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary portions of the brain that work together in controlling spermatogenesis
(formation of sperm).

It’s the dopamine that plays an important role in mediating male sexual behaviour. An increase
of dopamine in the brain results in increased libido.

Explaining Mucuna’s role in male infertility treatment, Mahdi said: “Mucuna’s mechanism to
treat infertility can be outlined in a few steps. The high-level of L-DOPA in Mucuna stimulates the
hypothalamus and forebrain to secrete GnRH (a hormone).

This, in turn, regulates the anterior pituitary gland to secrete the follicle stimulating hormone
(FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) causing increased synthesis of testosterone by the testes.
Therefore, increased dopamine levels optimize the production of hormones, including
testosterone, leading to an increased sexual drive and improved performance.”

According to the researchers, Mucuna also contributes to reducing psychological stress in infertile men by restoring the anti-oxidant levels in them.

Taking into account the therapeutic properties of Mucuna, CSMMU researchers have further undertaken a project to study its benefits in more detail.

“Fertility and Sterility – the official journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine – has accepted our work for publication,” said Mahdi.

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