Background: Opioids can exert adverse effects on the body. Morphine, an opioid drug, reduces hormone levels and fertility, and causes sexual activity disorders. Tribulus terrestris (TT) is a traditional herbal medicine used to enhance sexual activities. This study investigates the possible role of TT on sex hormones and gonadotropins with the intent to show its usefulness in treating fertility disorders in opioid users.
Materials and methods: In this experimental study, we randomly divided 48 rats into four groups: i. control, ii. TT-treated, iii. addicted and iv. TT-treated addicted. Watersoluble morphine was administrated orally for 21 days to induce addiction, after which the treated groups 2 and 4 received plant-mixed pelleted food (6.25%) orally for four weeks. At the end of the treatment period, the sex hormone and gonadotropin levels of all rats' sera were determined by radioimmunoassay and Elisa kits. The data obtained were statistically analyzed using the one-way analysis of variance, followed by post-hoc Tukey test. P<0.05 was considered significant.
Results: The addicted group had a significantly lower luteinizing hormone (LH) level than the control group (p<0.027). LH levels increased significantly in the TT-treated addicted group (p<0.031). The testosterone level in the treated addicted group was lower than the treated control group. The addicted group had a significantly low testosterone level (p<0.001). The estrogen level was significantly (p<0.002) lower in the addicted group than in the control group. In addition, there was a significant difference between the treated addicted group and the treated control group (p<0.048). The treated control group had a significant increase in its progesterone level (p<0.002). Overall, except for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), morphine reduced most of the gonadotropins and sexual hormones. Whereas TT caused a considerable increase (p<0.05) in the hormones in the treated addicted group, there was only a slight increase in the treated control group.
Conclusion: Oral consumption of TT could markedly antagonize the reduction of sex hormones and gonadotropins (except for FSH) due to morphine addiction.
Keywords: FSH; LH; Morphine; Sex Hormones; Tribulus terrestris.