Ethnopharmacological relevance: Taraxacum officinale (L.) Weber ex F.H. Wigg. is commonly used in Jordan folk medicine for the treatment of panophthalmitis, chronic constipation, and diabetes. In addition, herbalists prescribe the aqueous extract of Taraxacum officinale to enhance male's fertility. The current work was undertaken to investigate the validity and/or invalidity of the aqueous extract of Taraxacum officinale on enhancing the reproductive activity in male rat.
Materials and methods: Thirty three adult male rats were divided into three groups. Experimental groups received the aqueous extract of Taraxacum officinale orally for 60 days in two different sublethal doses; 1/10 LD(50) as high dose and 1/20 LD(50) as low dose, whereas the control group received distilled water.
Results: The administration of the aqueous extract of Taraxacum officinale resulted in a significant decrease in testis weight in the two experimental groups in comparison to the control group but had no effect on body or organ weight. The extract of this plant caused a decrease of the following in the two experimental groups, compared to the control group: sperm count, motility and normal morphology, pregnancy rate and diameter and wall thickness of seminiferous tubules. Also, distortion of morphology of the seminiferous tubules and arrest in spermatogenesis was observed in the experimental groups. In addition, the percentage of sperm with damaged chromatin integrity was significantly higher in the two experimental groups.
Conclusions: From the present study, we can conclude that the aqueous extract of Taraxacum officinale acts as an anti-fertility agent rather than a fertility booster as prescribed by Jordanian herbalists.
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