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A clinical study has shown that ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has beneficial effects on seminal quality, oxidative status, and reproductive hormone profiles.1 Seminal oxidative stress is linked to male idiopathic infertility. In this study, researchers examine the protective effect of ashwagandha on semen quality in infertile male smokers and infertile men under psychological stress.
Ashwagandha roots were authenticated by a botanist at
At baseline, all 3 treatment subgroups had lower sperm concentrations than the placebo group (NZ: P<0.05; NZ stress: P<0.01; NZ smokers: P<0.01). All 3 study subgroups also had significantly higher semen liquefaction times compared to the placebo group at baseline (NZ: P<0.05; NZ stress: P<0.01; NZ smokers: P<0.01). The NZ smokers also had lower sperm motility than the control group at baseline (P<0.05). There were no significant differences in semen volume between groups.
After treatment, sperm concentration increased compared to baseline values for all 3 treatment groups (NZ: +17%, P<0.01; NZ stress: +36%, P<0.01; NZ smokers: +20%, P<0.05). Sperm motility increased compared to baseline values in the 3 treatment groups (NZ: +9%, not significant; NZ stress: +13%, P<0.05; NZ smokers: +10%, P<0.05). Semen liquefaction time decreased significantly compared to baseline in the treatment groups (NZ: -19%, P<0.05; NZ stress: -34%, P<0.01; NZ smokers: -20%, P<0.05). The rates of pregnancy outcomes were 15% for NZ men and NZ men under stress and 10% for NZ smokers. Seminal plasma lipid peroxides (LPOs) were significantly increased in all treatment groups at baseline by 40-45%, when compared to the healthy control group (P<0.01 for all). Post-treatment seminal LPOs were significantly decreased compared to pre-treatment levels (NZ: -29%; NZ stress: -23%; NZ smokers: -27%; P<0.01 for all).
Seminal plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity was significantly lower in all 3 treatment subgroups compared to the control group at baseline (P<0.01). Catalase activity was significantly lower in the NZ stress and NZ treatment subgroups compared to the control group at baseline (P<0.01 for both). After treatment, all 3 treatment groups experienced significant increases of 8-18% in SOD activity compared to baseline levels (P<0.01 for all), and the NZ stress treatment group showed a significant 11% increase in catalase activity (P<0.01). Treatment with ashwagandha also significantly increased seminal levels of glutathione and ascorbic acid in the NZ and NZ stress subjects (P<0.01 for both), as well as vitamin A and vitamin E in all 3 treatment subgroups (P<0.05 for all), compared to baseline values.
At baseline, the 3 treatment subgroups had significantly lower blood serum levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) compared to the control group (P values not specified for any hormone changes). After treatment, all 3 treatment subgroups experienced significant increases in testosterone and LH levels compared to pre-treatment values. Prolactin and follicle stimulating (FSH) hormone levels were significantly increased in all 3 subgroups compared to the control group at baseline. Post-treatment FSH and prolactin levels decreased significantly compared to pre-treatment values in all 3 subgroups, with the exception of prolactin in the NZ stress treatment group. Cortisol levels measured at 8 am and 4 pm were significantly higher in the 3 treatment subgroups compared to the controls at baseline, except for the NZ treatment subgroup at 8 am. After treatment, all 3 subgroups experienced significant decreases in cortisol levels at 8 am and 4 pm compared to baseline values. HH
The authors conclude that ashwagandha improves seminal quality and oxidative status, decreases cortisol levels, and balances reproductive hormones in men with idiopathic male infertility, including smokers and men under psychological stress. They also write that the study "confirms the role of stress in male infertility." More research is needed to confirm the mechanism of action.
1.Oppel-Sutter M. Ashwagandha improves multiple parameters affecting infertile men. HerbClip. December 15, 2009 (No. 070692-390).
|This article was published on Sunday May 02, 2010.|