Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz

J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Aug 26;149(1):208-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.024. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Traditional Indian systems of medicine use roots of Withania somnifera for impotence, infertility treatment, stress, and the aging process. Although Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress, the molecular mechanism is not clear.

Aim of the study: Our study uses high-resolution Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to explore the scientific basis to reveal the pre- and post-treatment efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma of infertile men-which remains unexplored to date.

Materials and methods: A total of 180 infertile male patients were administered Withania somnifera root powder at the rate of 5 g/d for a 3-month period. The study included age-matched, healthy men as a control (n=50) group. Proton NMR spectroscopy was used to measure lactate, alanine, glutamate, glutamine, citrate, lysine, choline, glycerophosphocholine (GPC), glycine, tyrosine, histidine, phenylalanine, and uridine in all seminal plasma samples. To appraise infertility levels, we also measured sperm concentration, motility, lipid peroxide, and hormonal perturbation.

Results: Withania somnifera therapy repairs the disturbed concentrations of lactate, alanine, citrate, GPC, histidine, and phenylalanine in seminal plasma and recovers the quality of semen of post-treated compared to pre-treated infertile men. Serum biochemistry was also improved over post-therapy in infertile men. Our findings reveal that Withania somnifera not only reboots enzymatic activity of metabolic pathways and energy metabolism but also invigorates the harmonic balance of seminal plasma metabolites and reproductive hormones in infertile men.

Conclusion: The results suggest that Withania somnifera may be used as an empirical therapy for clinical management and treatment of infertility.

Keywords: AZ; Asthenozoospermic; CZ; Control group; Infertility; NMR; NZ; Normozoospermic; OZ; Oligozoospermic; Seminal plasma; Spectroscopy; TSP; Tri-methylsilylpropionic acid; Withania somnifera.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infertility, Male / blood
  • Infertility, Male / drug therapy*
  • Infertility, Male / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Male
  • Metabolome
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Semen / drug effects*
  • Semen / metabolism*
  • Withania / chemistry*
  • Young Adult


  • Plant Extracts