Ethnopharmacological relevance: In folk medicine, Turnera diffusa Wild (Turnera diffusa, Turneraceae) is considered as an aphrodisiac, but its ability to restore copulation in sexually inhibited subjects has not been reported.
Aim of the study: To determine whether Turnera diffusa recovers sexual behavior in sexually exhausted (SExh) male rats and to identify the main components in an aqueous extract.
Materials and methods: SExh males were treated with Turnera diffusa, 20-80 mg/kg, yohimbine, 2 mg/kg, or vehicle.
Results: Yohimbine and Turnera diffusa (80 mg/kg) significantly increased the percentage of males achieving one ejaculatory series and resuming a second one. In addition, Turnera diffusa significantly reduced the post-ejaculatory interval. These effects were not associated to an increase in locomotor activity or anxiety-like behaviors. The HPLC-ESI-MS analysis showed the presence of caffeine, arbutine, and flavonoids as the main compounds in the active extract.
Conclusion: The results support the use of Turnera diffusa as an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine and suggest possible therapeutic properties of Turnera diffusa on sexual dysfunction. The flavonoids present in active extract may participate in its pro-sexual effect, which is analogous to those produced by yohimbine, suggesting a shared mechanism of action.