Effects of Herba Cistanches on testosterone content, substance metabolism and exercise capacity in rats after exercise training

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OBJECTIVE: To study the effects of Herba Cistanches on the content of testosterone, substance metabolism and the ability of resisting exercise-induced fatigue of rats. METHODS: High-intensity endurance trained rats were used as the model. Sixty-five 7-week-old male Wistar rats were divided into 4 groups, with 15 in each group: still ig administration of water group (C group), still igadministration of Cistanche group (M group), exercise ig administration of water group (T group), and exercise ig administration of Cistanche group (TM group). Gavage was done using professional device once a day. M and TM group were dosed at 6.01 g · kg -1 with volume of 5 mL · kg -1, while C and T group were given saline of the same volume. After 42 d exhaustive swimming training, body weight, swimming time, serum testosterone, and other biochemical markers were measured. RESULTS: The body weights and swimming time of the rats in TM group were greater than those in T group (P<0.05, P<0.01). Exhaustive swimming led to decreased serum testosterone. The serum testosterone levels of T group decreased by 40.53% (P<0.01) compared with C group. Compared with T group, the serum testosterone levels of TM group increased by 44.35% (P<0.01). The serum corticosterone levels in each group showed no significant differences, and the serum testosterone/corticosterone ratios changed in line with changes of testosterone. Liver glycogen and muscle glycogen reserves failed. Compared with C group, T group's glycogen decreased by 25.85% (P<0.01), and muscle glycogen decreased by 44. 94% (P<0.01). Compared with T group, TM group had 19.41% higher liver glycogen (P<0.05) and 58.05% higher muscle glycogen (P<0.01); FSH had no significant change; compared with C group, the blood urea of T group increased by 59.30% (P<0.01), and the hemoglobin decreased by 28.72% (P<0.01); compared with T group, TM group had 20.70%) lower blood urea (P<0.05) and 24.22% higher hemoglobin (P<0.05). CONCLUSION: Cistanche deserticola Y.C. Ma can reduce the impact of high-intensity exercise on serum testosterone, and maintain it at normal physiological level. It can promote protein synthesis, inhibit amino acid and protein degradation, and increase hemoglobin and glycogen reserves in rats receiving exercise training.

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Several medicinal plants are traditionally used in different regions of Africa for the treatment of male infertility, sexual asthenia, erectile dysfunction, and impotency or used as an aphrodisiac. Scientific studies, mostly conducted in vitro or in animals, have proven the acclaimed traditional use of these plants to enhance sexual activities or sperm concentration, motility, and viability. Some of the mechanisms of actions associated with these plants include increased level of testosterone and the relaxation of the smooth cavernosal muscles. However, some plants were also shown to have detrimental effects on the male reproductive system. This may be due to the varying modes of plant extraction, duration of treatment, experimental design, dosage used, quality of the plant, or toxic effects. There is a need to standardize the protocols as well as to better understand the mechanism of actions of the respective plants. Further studies should be conducted using human subjects.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history in the treatment of andrological diseases. TCM has its own unique philosophy of diagnosing and treating andrological diseases, such as the Yin and Yang or Qi and Viscera theories. Six tonic herbs are listed and discussed in this chapter in terms of their traditional record in andrological disease management and pharmacological effects in andrology. This includes the protective effects on reproductive function, spermatogenesis, erectile dysfunction, antiprostate cancer, and on benign prostatic hyperplasia. The six TCM herbs are Herba Epimedii, Lycium barbarum, Herba Cistanches, Cuscutae Semen, Morinda officinalis Radix, Psoralea Fructus.
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From the dry bulbs of Cistanche deserticola a branch of orobahchacease plant growing in Inner Mongolia two active antisenile constituents (D-mannitol and polysaccharide) were isolated and identified. Chemical analysis and spectroscopic tests show that D-mannitol corresponds to the authentic standard, and polysaccharide is condensed from rhamnose, xylose, arabinose and galactose.
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