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El presente estudio tiene como objetivo determinar el efecto de un tratamiento oral de 4 meses con tabletas de Lepidium meyenii (Maca) sobre el análisis seminal en nueve hombres adultos entre los 24-44 años de edad. Luego del tratamiento se realizó un análisis seminal de acuerdo a las directrices de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS). Los resultados concluyeron que la maca mejora la producción de esperma y motilidad espermática por mecanismos no relacionados con la LH, FSH, PRL, T y E2. Agencia de Cooperación Técnica Alemana - GTZ
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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,
Asian J Androl 2001 Dec; 3: 301-303
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 (E2)
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 E2.
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 (E2) 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
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
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 E2 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
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 (106/mL) 67.06±18.61 90.33±20.46 NS
Total sperm count(106/mL) 140.95±31.05 259.29±68.17 <0.05
Motile sperm count (106/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
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
E2 (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
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.
[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-
[7] Gonzales GF. A test for bioandrogenicity in men attending an infertility service. Arch Androl 1988;
21: 135-42.
... Secondly, it has been reported that KD has no testosteronelike effect on the reproductive organs including seminal vesicles plus coagulating glands and ventral prostate and also the non-reproductive tissue such as levator ani muscle in the castrated immature rats treated with KD (Trisomboon et al. 2007). Thirdly, there is evidence that the aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties of L. meyenii in healthy men have no correlation with serum reproductive hormone including testosterone (Gonzales et al. 2001, 2003). However, in view of the recent findings that in the castrated immature rats orally treated with dry KD powder in water for 5 days significantly increase serum testosterone levels were observed (Trisomboon et al. 2007), the possibility that KD enhances sexual behaviors via an increase in the testosterone cannot be ruled out. ...
... The failure to demonstrate the enhancing effect of KD may be due to the fact that these parameters are already high in the control animals. It has been shown that L. meyenii (1500 and 300 mg/kg per day for 4 months) improved sperm production and sperm motility in adult normal men (Gonzales et al. 2001). Whether sperm production is enhanced by KD is not known. ...
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Krachaidum (KD, Kaempferia parviflora Wall. Ex. Baker), a native plant of Southeast Asia, is traditionally used to enhance male sexual function. However, only few scientific data in support of this anecdote have been reported. The present study investigated the effects of feeding three different extracts of KD (alcohol, hexane, and water extracts) for 3-5 weeks on the reproductive organs, the aphrodisiac activity, fertility, sperm motility, and blood flow to the testis of male rats. Sexual performances (mount latency, mount frequency, ejaculatory latency, post-ejaculatory latency) and sperm motility were assessed by a video camera and computer-assisted sperm analysis respectively, while blood flow to the testis was measured by a directional pulsed Doppler flowmeter. The results showed that all extracts of KD had virtually no effect on the reproductive organ weights even after 5 weeks. However, administration of the alcohol extract at a dose of 70 mg/kg body weight (BW)/day for 4 weeks significantly decreased mount and ejaculatory latencies when compared with the control. By contrast, hexane and water extracts had no influence on any sexual behavior parameters. All types of extracts of KD had no effect on fertility or sperm motility. On the other hand, alcohol extract produced a significant increase in blood flow to the testis without affecting the heart rate and mean arterial blood pressure. In a separate study, an acute effect of alcohol extract of KD on blood flow to the testis was investigated. Intravenous injection of KD at doses of 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg BW caused dose-dependent increases in blood flow to the testis. The results indicate that alcohol extract of KD had an aphrodisiac activity probably via a marked increase in blood flow to the testis.
From the roots of Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Brassicaceae), two flavonolignans, tricin 4'-O-[threo-β-guaiacyl-(7''-O-methyl)-glyceryl] ether (1) and tricin 4'-O-(erythro-β-guaiacyl-glyceryl) ether (2), along with eleven other known compounds, tricin (3), pinoresinol (4), 4-hydroxycinnamic acid (5), guanosine (6), glucotropaeolin (7), desulfoglucotropaeolin (8), 3-hydroxybenzylisothiocyanate (9), malic acid benzoate (10), 5-(hydroxymethyl)-2-furfural (11), D-phenylalanine (12), and vanillic acid 4-O-β-D-glucoside (13), have been isolated and identified. Structures were elucidated on the basis of NMR and MS data. Some isolates and previous isolated lepidiline B (13) were tested for cytotoxicity in a small panel of human cancer cell lines (Hep G2, COLO 205, and HL-60) and anti-inflammatory activities in LPS-treated RAW264.7 macrophage. Among them, compound 1 and 14 were modestly active for inhibiting nitrite production in macrophage. Compounds 1, 14 and 3 were demonstrated to be selectively active against HL-60 cells with an IC50 of 40.4, 52.0, and 52.1 M, respectively.
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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 meye- nii have shown positive effects on sexual desire; while extracts of Astragalus membranaceus, Asparagus racemous, Withania somnifera, Andrographis paniculata and Acantho- panax 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.
Abstract We investigated the effect of a mixture of two extracts from both Peruvian plants given alone or in a mixture on reproductive function sperm count and glycemia in streptozotocin-diabetic mice. Normal or diabetic mice were divided in groups receiving vehicle, black maca (Lepidium meyenii), yacon (Smallanthus Sonchifolius), or three mixtures of extracts black maca/yacon (90/10, 50/50, 10/90). Diabetes was induced with streptozotocin. Normal or diabetic mice were treated for 7 days with each extract, mixture or vehicle. Glycemia, daily sperm production (DSP), epididymal and vas deferens sperm counts in mice and polyphenol content, and anti-oxidant activity in each extract were assessed. Black maca (BM), yacon and the mixture of extracts reduced glucose levels in diabetic mice. Non-diabetic treated with BM and yacon showed higher DSP than those treated with vehicle (P<0.05). Diabetic mice treated with BM, yacon, and the mixture maca/yacon increased DSP, and sperm count in vas deferens and epididymis with respect to non-diabetic and diabetic mice treated with vehicle (P<0.05). Yacon has 3.05 times higher polyphenol content than in maca and this was associated with higher anti-oxidant activity. The combination of two extracts improved glycemic level and male reproductive function in diabetic mice. Streptozotocin increased 1.43 times the liver weight that was reversed with the assessed plants extracts. In summary, streptozotocin-induced diabetes resulted in reduction in sperm counts and liver damage. These effects could be reduced with black maca, yacon and the mixture black maca+yacon.
Despite the advent of biotechnology and modern methods of combinatorial chemistry and rational drug design, nature still plays a surprisingly important role as a source of new pharmaceutical compounds. These are marketed either as herbal drugs or as single active ingredients. South American tropical ecosystems (or the Neotropics) encompass one-third of the botanical biodiversity of the planet. For centuries, indigenous peoples have been using plants for healing purposes, and scientists are making considerable efforts in order to validate these uses from a pharmacological/phytochemical point of view. However, and despite the unique plant diversity in the region, very few natural pharmaceutical ingredients from this part of the world have reached the markets in industrialized countries. The present review addresses the importance of single active ingredients and herbal drugs from South American flora as natural ingredients for pharmaceuticals; it highlights the most relevant cases in terms of species of interest; and discusses the key entry barriers for these products in industrialized countries. It explores the reasons why, in spite of the region's competitive advantages, South American biodiversity has been a poor source of natural ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry.
To evaluate the effects of the tuberous powder of Butea superba Roxb. (Leguminosae) on blood testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH), and toxicity in male rats. Adult male Wistar rats were orally treated with 0, 10, 100, 150 or 200 mg/kg BW/day of B. superba powder suspension in 0.7 ml distilled water for 90 consecutive days. Blood samples were collected every 30 days and submitted to testosterone and LH analysis. On the 90th day of treatment, blood and the main organs were collected for haematological and histopathological analysis, respectively. The adverse effects found included an increase in spleen relative weight, and increased serum level of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) in rats treated with 150 mg/kg BW/day B. superba powder. At 200 mg/kg BW/day treatment, rats showed significant decreased and increased blood levels of neutrophil and eosinophil, respectively, and a decrease in serum creatinine levels. Serum hormonal analysis revealed a dose-dependent decrease in testosterone, but not LH, in rats treated with 150 and 200 mg/kg BW/day B. superba powder. Subchronic treatment of B. superba tuberous powder suspension at high doses in male rats exhibited adverse effects to blood chemistry, haematology, and blood testosterone level. The results of the study should initiate awareness of the possible adverse risk of over-dose consumption of B. superba products for treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in mature males.
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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).
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.
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.
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
  • J L Zarucchi
Brako L, Zarucchi JL. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden; 1993. p 229.
A test for bioandrogenicity in men attending an infertility service
  • G F Gonzales
Gonzales GF. A test for bioandrogenicity in men attending an infertility service. Arch Androl 1988; 21: 135-42.