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Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men

Authors:
G F Gonzales
G F Gonzales
G F Gonzales

Abstract and Figures

The present study was designed to determine the effect of a 4-month oral treatment with tablets of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on seminal analysis in nine adult normal men aged 24-44 years old. Nine men received tablets of Maca (1500 or 3000 mg/day) for 4 months. Seminal analysis was performed according to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) were measured before and after treatment. Treatment with Maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not modified with Maca treatment. Increase of sperm count was not related to dose of Maca. Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility by mechanisms not related to LH, FSH, PRL, T and E2.
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Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men
Gustavo F. Gonzales, Amanda Cordova, Carla Gonzales, Arturo Chung, Karla Vega,
Arturo Villena
Department of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy and Ins
tituto de Investigaciones de la Altura. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima,
Peru
Asian J Androl 2001 Dec; 3: 301-303
Abstract
Aim: The present study was designed to determine the effect of a 4 month oral treatment with tablets
of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on seminal analysis in nine adult normal men aged 24-44 years old.
Methods: Nine men received tablets of Maca (1500 or 3000 mg/day) for 4 months. Seminal analysis
was performed according to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Serum luteinizing
hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E
2
)
were measured before and after treatment. Results: Treatment with Maca resulted in increased
seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility. Serum hormone
levels were not modified with Maca treatment. Increase of sperm count was not related to dose of
Maca. Conclusion: Maca improved sperm production and sperm motility by mechanisms not related
to LH, FSH, PRL, T and E
2
.
1 Introduction
Maca is the root of a Peruvian plant Lepidium meyenii (Brassicaceae), growing in the Central Andean
Region of Peru between 4000 and 4500 m altitude, mainly in Junin and Cerro de Pasco. This species
is described in the catalogue of the flowering plants and gymnosperms of Peru
[1]
. Maca is traditionally
employed, among others, to improve sexuality and fertility. Oral administration of Maca significantly
improved the sexual behavior in male rats and mice
[2,3]
. More recently, it has been demonstrated that
Maca improves spermatogenesis in male rats
[4]
, however, its effect on sperm production in men has
not been assessed. The present investigation was designed to study the effect of oral administration
of Maca on the semen parameters and serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone
(FSH), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E
2
) levels in normal male volunteers.
2 Materials and methods
2.1 Maca
Maca (Maca Gelatinizada La Molina) tablets were provided by the Laboratorios Hersil (Lima, Peru).
Each tablet contains 500 mg of the root. This product could be purchased in the pharmacy as a
nutrient.
2.2 Subjects and treatment
Twelve healthy men, 24-44 years of age, were recruited in the study, but 3 dropped out due to
personal reasons during the 4 month treatment period. They had not received any kind of medical
treatment for at least 3 months before the study. All the subjects gave written consent to participate in
the study after being informed of the purpose, benefit and possible risks of the study. Among the 9
men with complete data, 6 were married and 3, single. Semen samples were collected by
masturbation after a 3 day abstinence and fasting blood samples obtained between 08.00-09.00 h
before and at the end of the treatment. Sera were kept frozen until hormone assay. Six subjects
received 1500 mg/day, whereas 3, 3000 mg/day of Maca for 4 months. The study was approved by
the Institutional Review Board of the Scientific Research Office, at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano
Heredia.
2.3 Semen analysis
The ejaculate volume, semen consistency, sperm motility, sperm morphology and sperm
concentration were assessed according to the WHO manual
[5]
. Spermatozoa were graded “a” (rapid
progressive motility), “b” (slow or sluggish progressive motility), “c” (nonprogressive motility), or “d”
(immotility) as recommended by the manual.
2.4 Hormone assay
LH, FSH, and PRL were measured by immunoradiometric assay (IRMA), whereas T and E
2
were
measured by radioimmunoassay using commercial kits (Diagnostic Product Co, California).
2.5 Statistical analysis
Data were expressed in mean±SEM, if applicable. Statistical analysis was performed by the Student’s
t-test.The difference was considered significant when P<0.05.
3 Results
Data on semen analysis are presented in Table 1. The semen volume, total sperm count, motile
sperm count, and sperm motility (Grades a+b) were significantly increased after treatment with Maca
(P<0.05). Motility Grade a sperm was also increased, but statistically insignificant. There were no
significant differences between the two dosage levels of Maca used. In 4 of the 9 subjects, who had
low basal serum FSH levels, the sperm count was not increased after Maca treatment .
Maca treatment did not significantly change the levels of the hormones assayed (Table 2).
Table 1
Semen variable
Pre-Maca
(n=9)
Post-Maca
(n=9)
P value
Volume (mL) 2.23±0.28 2.91±0.28 <0.05
pH 7.47±0.09 7.44±0.07 NS
Sperm count (10
6
/mL) 67.06±18.61 90.33±20.46 NS
Total sperm count(10
6
/mL) 140.95±31.05 259.29±68.17 <0.05
Motile sperm count (10
6
/mL) 87.72±19.87 183.16±47.84 <0.05
Sperm motility grade a (%) 29.00±5.44 33.65±3.05 NS
Sperm motility grade a+b (%) 62.11±3.64 71.02±2.86 <0.05
Normal sperm morphology (%) 75.50±2.02 76.90±1.23 NS
Table 2
Hormones
Pre-Maca
(n=9)
Post-Maca
(n=9)
P value
FSH (mIU/mL) 4.30±1.00 3.51±0.83 NS
LH (mIU/mL) 6.05±0.69 4.76±0.68 NS
PRL (ng/mL) 14.41±2.74 13.00±1.51 NS
T (ng/mL) 6.53±0.81 5.34±0.38 NS
E
2
(pg/mL) 32.63±4.46 41.53±6.52 NS
4 Discussion
Semen volume resulted from the contributions of seminal vesicles (60%), prostate (30%) and
epididymis(10%)
[6]
. All these glands are androgen dependent
[7]
. Sperm motility was also androgen
dependent
[6]
. Maca treatment was able to increase both the semen volume and sperm motility.
However, we failed to find any increase in serum testosterone levels during Maca treatment, which
may suggest that either bioavailable testosterone or testosterone receptor binding might be
augmented.
Another possibility is that Maca may act without the participation of androgen mechanism. This seems
to be supported by the fact that the weight of seminal vesicle, a target for androgen action, was not
influenced by Maca in adult male rats
[4]
.
In adult male rats, Maca has been shown to be beneficial to spermatogenesis
[4]
. In the present study,
sperm count was increased by Maca without affecting the FSH level. It is possible that Maca may
improve the response of Sertoli cells to FSH. We have demonstrated in women that oral
administration of Maca for 2 weeks resulted in an increase in the size of the dominant follicles
(unpublished data), which also suggested that Maca may improve the response to FSH. Further
studies will be required to clarify this issue. In conclusion, Maca administration as tablets may
improve sperm production and sperm motility.
References
[1] Brako L, Zarucchi JL. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St Louis:
Missouri Botanical Garden; 1993. p 229.
[2] Zheng BL, He K, Kim CH, Rogers L, Shao Y, Huang ZY, et al. Effect of lipidic extract from
Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology 2000; 55: 598-602.
[3] Cicero AF, Bandieri E, Arletti R. Lepidium meyenii Walp improves sexual behaviour in male rats
independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity. J Ethnopharmacol 2001; 75: 225-9.
[4] Gonzales GF, Ruiz A, Gonzales C, Villegas L, Córdova A. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca)
rotos, a Peruvian plant on spermatogenesis of male rats. Asian J Androl 2001; 3:231-3.
[5] World Health Organization. WHO laboratory manual for the examination of human semen and
sperm cervical mucus interaction. 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1999. p 1-10.
[6] Gonzales GF. Functional structure and ultra structure of seminal vesicles. Arch Androl 1988; 22: 1-
13.
[7] Gonzales GF. A test for bioandrogenicity in men attending an infertility service. Arch Androl 1988;
21: 135-42.
... The extracts of the Peruvian plant Lepidium meyenii appeared to be useful to increase the sperm number and the percentage of normal forms in an uncontrolled trial [ 77 ] (IIb). ...
... Classi fi cation of evidences Grading of recommendations Positive effects Any or negative effects Roseff [ 68 ] IIb B Selenium Iwanier and Zachara [ 72 ] IIa B Scott [ 73 ] Ib A Shao-Fu-Zhu-Yu-Tang Yang et al. [ 75 ] IIb B Astacarox ® Comhaire et al. [ 76 ] Ib A Proxeed ® Comhaire et al. [ 76 ] Ib A Lepidium meyenii Gonzales et al. [ 77 ] IIb B Linseed oil Comhaire and Mahmoud [ 78 ] IV None Menevit ® Tremellen et al. [ 79 ] Ib A ...
... En ratas y ratones, mejoró la disfunción eréctil cuando se suministró oralmente de extracto lipídico purificado de maca pura (Zheng et al., 2000). En varones incrementó el volumen, el recuento y la motilidad de espermatozoides al usarse 1500 o 3000 mg/día de maca por 4 meses (Gonzales et al., 2001). En ratas, dosis de 2 g/ Kg mejoró el ciclo espermatogénico temprano (Gonzales et al., 2006). ...
... Como se observa, los reportes indican efectos beneficiosos y algunas contradictorias al usarse diversas formas de maca ya sea en forma de polvos o extractos acuosos. Al parecer, a parte de las dosis que también varían con dosis altas (2000 a 3000 mg/Kg de p.v.) en roedores (Gonzales et al., 2001) o dosis bajas en carneros con 233 mg/Kg de peso vivo (Lavana et al, 2013;Avelar et al., 2016) o sementales con dosis de 40 mg/Kg de pesos vivo, al parecer hacen evidenciar que se necesita estandarizar la dosis de maca o la forma de su uso, así como los componentes o metabolitos que evidencian que las variedades en función al color no sean diferentes en sus efectos en la función reproductiva. Nuestros resultados, que aparentemente mejoran el volumen, pero más no otras características seminales, podrían haberse afectado por el tiempo de tratamiento en comparación a otros estudios de mayor tiempo de duración, el genotipo de verracos reproductores (razas versus líneas) o las colecciones no uniformes en los verracos durante la fase del tratamiento. ...
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... Maca has elements of high nutritional value, such as proteins, carbohydrates, essential amino acids, lipids, free fatty acids, and a series of secondary metabolites, such as macamides, alkaloids, and glucosinolates [4], and the composition and several medicinal effects of Peruvian Maca were reported very recently [2,3]. Several studies have demonstrated the effects of Maca on semen quality, spermatogenesis, sperm count, and sperm motility in different species [1,[5][6][7]. These effects were observed in both healthy [1,4,6,8] and animals with induced subfertility problems [9,10]. ...
... The present study showed the in vitro effects of L. meyenii on the sperm parameters of capacitated frozen-thawed bull semen. Several studies have shown that Maca has an effect on seminal quality in humans [5,12,32], mice [1,2,[8][9][10], and stallions [6,17] that is related to its antioxidant capacity [4,11,[33][34][35][36] because, during cryopreservation, sperm is damaged by OS [18][19][20][21]. In addition to the high concentration of antioxidants, L. meyenii contains several secondary metabolites [3,14,22,23], which help in keeping ROS levels low [14,17]. ...
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... Therefore, in women, it might be hypothesized that Maca may have an indirect androgenic response through a negative feedback pathway involving the LH/FSH, whereas the increased production of androgens might explain the improvement in sexual functioning. Taken together, these findings may shed light on the mechanisms of Maca, although previous findings in men failed to prove a direct androgenic effect [49,50]. Probably, the belief that Maca can restore hormonal balance in menopause is undermined by the relatively small sample size and the significant positive placebo effect reported in all studies [45]. ...
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Maca (Lepidium myenii) root has been used by people of the Andes for more than 2000 years for nutrition, cognition, and fertility. Of the three main colors it comes in, red maca is the rarest and provides the most antioxidants. Black maca has been shown to significantly increase sperm count and sperm mobility in men and to reduce stress and fatigue, increase memory and learning ability, and work as a natural antidepressant, while yellow maca has shown a moderate effect on sperm count and sex drive. Maca root may be beneficial for menopause, menopausal sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, male infertility, and general wellness at high altitudes. This chapter examines some of the scientific research conducted on maca, both alone and in combination formulas, for treating numerous health conditions. It summarizes results from several human studies of maca’s use in treating genitourinary disorders and disorders of vitality. Finally, the chapter presents a list of maca’s active constituents, different Commonly Used Preparations and Dosage, and a section on “Safety and Precaution” that examines side effects, toxicity, and disease and drug interactions.
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To determine the effect of oral administration of an aqueous extract from the roots of Lepidium meyenii (maca) on spermatogenesis in adult male rats. Male rats received an aqueous extract of the root (66.7 mg in one mL) twice a day for 14 consecutive days. Treatment with Lepidium meyenii resulted in an increase in the weights of testis and epididymis but not the seminal vesicle weight. The length and frequency of stages IX-XIV seminiferous tubules, where mitosis occurred, were increased and stages I-VI were reduced in rats treated with Lepidium meyenii. The Lepidium meyenii root invigorates spermatogenesis in male rats by acting on its initial stages (IX-XIV).
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Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Maca) is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed properties to improve energy and fertility. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of acute and chronic Maca pulverised root oral administration on rat sexual behaviour. Sixty male sexually experienced rats (20 group) were daily treated for 15 days with Maca 15 mg kg−1, Maca 75 mg kg−1 or saline 0.5 ml kg−1. The following sexual performance parameters were evaluated at first and last day of treatment: 1st mount (ML), 1st intromission (IL), ejaculation (EL) and postejaculatory (PEL) latencies, intercopulatory interval (ICI) and copulatory efficacy (CE). An activity cage test was carried out to evaluate if Maca-induced locomotion changes could indirectly improve rat sexual performances. It was observed that both lower and higher Maca doses acutely decreased ML, IL and ICI in a significant way (P<0.05), while only the 75 mg kg−1 dose decreased the PEL (T=29, P<0.05). This effect seems to be the only one dose-dependent. After 15 days of treatment, both doses are able to significantly decrease ML, IL, EL and PEL, while the 75 mg kg−1 dose decreased the ICI (T=40, P<0.05) too. IL, EL and PEL variations seem to be dose-related after chronic treatment. Moreover, chronic Maca treatment induced an apparently not dose-related increase in rat locomotion, during the second 10-min period of observation in the activity cage. The late in Maca-induced locomotion modification excludes that improvement of tested sexual performance parameters is related to an increase in rat aspecific activity. Thus, it was concluded that both acute and chronic Maca oral administration significantly improve sexual performance parameters in male rats.
Article
The function of the seminal vesicles in animals and man is under androgen control. The use of a new marker of the seminal vesicle function, termed corrected fructose, demonstrates an association between serum testosterone levels and seminal corrected fructose levels. The human seminal vesicles secrete a variety of products, and there is good evidence of a close relationship between functions of the seminal vesicles and sperm motility. Some of their products of secretion, such as potassium, bicarbonate, prostaglandins, and prolactin, directly stimulate the motility of the sperm through actions at the level of the mechanisms of production of the energy necessary for the motion. Several constituents are secreted by the seminal vesicles, some of which have no specific functions.
Article
To determine the effect of oral administration of a purified lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii (MacaPure M-01 and M-02) on the number of complete intromissions and mating in normal mice, and on the latent period of erection (LPE) in rats with erectile dysfunction. Mice and rats were randomly divided into several experimental and control groups. A 10% ethanol suspension of M-01 and M-02 was orally administered for 22 days to the experimental groups according to the dosage specified by the experimental design. On day 22, 30 minutes after the dose was administered to the male mice, 2 virgin female mice were placed with 1 male mouse. The number of complete intromissions of each male mouse in 3 hours was recorded. In an assessment of 1 day of mating, each male mouse was cohabited with 5 estrous female mice overnight. The number of sperm-positive females was recorded. The LPE was measured to assess the sexual function in rats with erectile dysfunction. By using a YSD-4G multifunction instrument, an electric pulse at 20 V was applied to stimulate the rat's penis, and the duration from the start of the stimulus to full erection was measured in seconds as the LPE. In the normal male mice, the number of complete intromissions during the 3-hour period was 16.33 +/- 1.78, 46.67 +/- 2.39, and 67.01 +/- 2.55 for the control group, M-01 group, and M-02 group, respectively. In the assessment of mating, the number of sperm-positive females increased from 0.6 +/- 0.7 in the control group to 1.5 +/- 0.5 in the M-01 experimental group. The LPE of male rats with erectile dysfunction was 112 +/- 13 seconds with a regular diet (control group). The oral administration of M-01 at a dose of 180 or 1800 mg/kg body weight and M-02 at a dose of 45, 180, or 1800 mg/kg body weight reduced the LPE to 54 +/- 12 seconds, 54 +/- 13 seconds, 71 +/- 12 seconds, 73 +/- 12 seconds, and 41 +/- 13 seconds, respectively. The LPE of the surgical rats treated with M-01 at the lowest dose (45 mg/kg) was 121 +/- 12 seconds; thus, the change was not significant. Oral administration of M-01 and M-02 enhanced the sexual function of the mice and rats, as evidenced by an increase in the number of complete intromissions and the number of sperm-positive females in normal mice, and a decrease in the LPE in male rats with erectile dysfunction. The present study reveals for the first time an aphrodisiac activity of L. meyenii, an Andean Mountain herb.
Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden
  • L Brako
  • Jl Zarucchi
Brako L, Zarucchi JL. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden; 1993. p 229.