Direct effects of Chinese herbal medicine "hachuekkito" on sperm movement

Yamanaka M; Kitamura M; Kishikawa H; Tsuboniwa N; Koga M; Nishimura K; Tsujimura A; Takahara S; Matsumiya K; Okuyama A Department of Urology, Osaka University Medical School

Nippon Hinyokika Gakkai Zasshi, 89(7):641-6 1998 Jul (ISSN: 0021-5287)

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Chinese herbal medicine, "Hochuekkitto" is widely used for male infertility in Japan. There have been many reports concerning its clinical usefulness but very few reports of in vitro experiments studying the mechanism of its effects. In addition to stimulating germ cells, we analyzed its direct effects on sperm using computer assisted semen analyzer (CASA). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Motile sperm were prepared using swim up technique from semen collected from ten healthy volunteers. Sperm movements (motility, velocity, linearity) were analyzed by CASA after adding either serum containing anti-sperm antibody (ASA) or normal serum with or without Hochuekkito. RESULTS: Two hours after adding serum with ASA, the decrease of sperm motility was significantly reduced from 25.1% (92.8%–>67.7%) to 12.5% (92.9%–>80.6%) by adding Hochuekkito. No significant difference in velocity and linearity was observed between two groups. By adding normal serum, any of three parameters differed significantly with or without Hochuekkito. CONCLUSION: Protective effects of Hochuekkito on sperm was suggested. Although normal sperm with ASA was used in this report, since the sperm of infertile patients are said to be more fragile, this results imply that direct protective effect is one of the mechanism of Hochuekkito for male infertility
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Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality.

Siterman S; Eltes F; Wolfson V; Zabludovsky N; Bartoov B Institute of Chinese Medicine, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Arch Androl, 39(2):155-61 1997 Sep-Oct (ISSN: 0148-5016)

The aim of this prospective controlled study was to assess the effect of acupuncture on the sperm quality of males suffering from subfertility related to sperm impairment. Semen samples of 16 acupuncture-treated subfertile patients were analyzed before and 1 month after treatment (twice a week for 5 weeks). In parallel, semen samples of 16 control untreated subfertile males were examined. Two specimens were taken from the control group at an interval of 2-8 months. The expanded semen analysis included routine and ultramorphological observations. The fertility index increased significantly (p < or = .05) following improvement in total functional sperm fraction, percentage of viability, total motile spermatozoa per ejaculate, and integrity of the axonema (p < or = .05), which occurred upon treatment. The intactness of axonema and sperm motility were highly correlated (corr. = .50, p < or = .05). Thus, patients exhibiting a low fertility potential due to reduced sperm activity may benefit from acupuncture treatment.
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An experimental study on inhibitory effect of Chinese medicine tai-bao on antisperm antibody

Lai AN; Song JF; Liu XJ Xiyuan Hospital, China Academy of TCM, Beijing.

Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih, 17(6):360-2 1997 Jun (ISSN: 1003-5370)

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether Chinese medicine Tai-bao could inhibit antisperm antibody in experimental mice. METHODS: The experimental immunoinfertility mice were due to antisperm antibody induced by injection of human sperm membrane antigens. The experimental immuno-infertile mice used in the present study were divided into four groups including Tai-bao high dose group (46.8, Tai-bao low dose group (31.2, prednisone group and normal saline group. The enzyme linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA) and microcytotoxic assay were used for detection of antisperm antibody. The change of levels of antisperm antibody before and after treatment, pregnant rate, and the number of implantation were investigated in tested mice. RESULTS: The pregnant rates in normal saline group, prednisone group, Tai-bao high dose group and low dose were 38.89%, 47.06%, 70.00% and 75.00% respectively. The rate of pregnancy in Tai-bao low dose group was significantly higher as compared with normal saline group (P < 0.05). The rate of implantation in Tai-bao low dose group was significantly higher than that in prednisone group (P < 0.05). The results of detection of cytotoxic antibody to sperm showed that cytotoxic percentages in Tai-bao high dose group (63.0 +/- 10.3%) and prednisone group (56.3 +/- 13.7%) were significantly lower (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01) than that in normal saline group (72.84 +/- 5.05%). CONCLUSION: Chinese medicine Tai-bao possesses regulatory effect on reproductive immune function, inhibitory effect on antisperm cytotoxic antibody, and promoting effect on pregnancy.
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Eighty-seven cases of male infertility treated by bushen shengjing pill in clinical observation and evaluation on its curative effect

Yue GP; Chen Q; Dai N Institute of Acupuncture and Meridians, Anhui College of TCM, Hefei.

Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih, 16(8):463-6 1996 Aug (ISSN: 1003-5370)

Eighty-seven cases of male infertility with semen abnormality were treated and observed by Bushen Shengjing Pill, its curative effect was evaluated with quantitative assessment and analytical comparison comprehensive scoring of semen routine analysis. These patients were treated for one of three courses of treatment, the semen quality was enhanced obviously, the comprehensive semen routine analysis score was enhanced significantly (P < 0.001) as compared with that before treatment, the spouse pregnant rate was 56.32% (49/87), and total effective rate was 95.40% (83/87). The result showed that this prescription had bidirectional regulatory function in folliclestimulating hormone, luteotropic hormone, testosterone, corticosterone, and could make the enhanced or reduced hormone level to normal value.
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Effects of guizhi-fuling-wan on male infertility with varicocele.

Ishikawa H; Ohashi M; Hayakawa K; Kaneko S; Hata M Department of Urology, Ichikawa General Hospital, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan.

Am J Chin Med, 24(3-4):327-31 1996 (ISSN: 0192-415X)

Thirty-seven infertile patients with varicocele were treated with Guizhi-Fuling-Wan (7.5 g/day) for at least 3 months. Before and after the administration, semen qualities such as sperm concentration and motility were examined, and the varicocele was graded. A varicocele disappearance rate of 80% was obtained with 40 out of 50 varicocele, and improvement of sperm concentration and motility were found in 71.4% and 62.1% of patients, respectively. From these results, Guizhi-Fuling-Wan is considered to be effective for circulation disorders in varicocele as well as semen quality.
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Adjuvant L-arginine treatment for in-vitro fertilization in poor responder patients

Battaglia C, Salvatori M, Maxia N, Petraglia F, Facchinetti F, Volpe A Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Modena, Via del Pozzo, 17, 41100 Modena Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Udine, Italy.

Hum Reprod 1999 Jul;14(7): 1690-7

The objective of the present study was prospectively and randomly to evaluate the role of L-arginine in improving uterine and follicular Doppler flow and in improving ovarian response to gonadotrophin in poor responder women. A total of 34 patients undergoing assisted reproduction was divided in two groups according to different ovarian stimulation protocols: (i) flare-up gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogue (GnRHa) plus elevated pure follicle stimulating hormone (pFSH)(n = 17); and (ii) flare-up GnRHa plus elevated pFSH plus oral L-arginine (n = 17). During the ovarian stimulation regimen, the patients were submitted to hormonal (oestradiol and growth hormone), ultrasonographic (follicular number and diameter, endometrial thickness) and Doppler (uterine and perifollicular arteries) evaluations. Furthermore, the plasma and follicular fluid concentrations of arginine, citrulline, nitrite/nitrate (NO2-/NO3-), and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IFG-1) were assayed. All 34 patients completed the study. In the L-arginine treated group a lower cancellation rate, an increased number of oocytes collected, and embryos transferred were observed. In the same group, increased plasma and follicular fluid concentrations of arginine, citruilline, NO2-/NO3-, and IFG-1 was observed. Significant Doppler flow improvement wsa obtained in the L-arginine supplemented group. Three pregnancies were registered in these patients. No pregnancies were observed in the other group. It was concluded that oral L-arginine supplementation in poor responder patients may improve ovarian response, endometrial receptivity and pregnancy rate.
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Antioxidant intake is associated with semen quality in healthy men

B. Eskenazi 1*, S.A. Kidd 1, A.R. Marks 1, E. Sloter 2, G. Block 1, and A.J. Wyrobek 3

1 140 Earl Warren Hall, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360, USA
2 Biology and Biotechnology Research Program, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7000 East Avenue, L-448, Livermore, CA 94550, USA; Genetics and Developmental Biology Program, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
3 Biology and Biotechnology Research Program, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7000 East Avenue, L-448, Livermore, CA 94550, USA and

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
B. Eskenazi, E-mail:

BACKGROUND: We seek to determine whether dietary and supplement intake of specific micronutrients (zinc and folate) and antioxidants (vitamins C, E and -carotene) is associated with semen quality. METHODS: Ninety-seven healthy, non-smoking men provided semen and were interviewed. Average daily nutrient intake from food and supplements was derived from a self-administered food frequency questionnaire. Intake levels were summarized as low, moderate and high. Semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count, motility, progressive motility and total progressively motile sperm count (TPMS) were measured. RESULTS: After controlling for covariates, a high intake of antioxidants was associated with better semen quality but, in almost all cases, there was no clear dose relationship in that moderate intake groups had the poorest semen quality. For example, positive associations were observed between vitamin C intake and sperm number as reflected in the higher mean count (P=0.04), concentration (P=0.05) and TPMS (P=0.09); between vitamin E intake and progressive motility (P=0.04) and TPMS (P=0.05); and between -carotene intake and sperm concentration (P=0.06) and progressive motility (P=0.06). Folate and zinc intake were not associated with improved semen quality. CONCLUSIONS: In a convenience sample of healthy non-smoking men from a non-clinical setting, higher antioxidant intake was associated with higher sperm numbers and motility.

Keywords: age; antioxidants; diet; semen quality; sperm.
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Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities

Edson Gurfinkel, Agnaldo P. Cedenho, Ysao Yamamura, Miguel Srougi

Human Reproduction Division, Discipline of Urology, São Paulo Federal University, Paulista School of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil

Asian J Androl 2003 Dec; 5: 345-348

Keywords: acupuncture; Chinese traditional medicine; infertility; moxibustion; oligozoospermia; teratozoospermia; semen


Aim: To evaluate the effect of Chinese Traditional Medicine, acupuncture and moxa treatment, on the semen quality in patients with semen abnormalities. Methods: In a prospective, controlled and blind study, nineteen patients, aged 24 years ~ 42 years and married for 3 years ~ 11 years without children with semen abnormalities in concentration, morphology and/or progressive motility without apparent cause, were randomized into two groups and submitted to acupuncture and moxa treatment at the therapeutic (Study Group) and the indifferent points (Control Group), respectively, for 10 weeks. Semen analyses were performed before and after the treatment course. Results: The patients of the Study Group presented a significant increase in the percentage of normal-form sperm compared to the Control Group (calculated U=16.0, critical U=17.0). Conclusion: The Chinese Traditional Medicine acupuncture and moxa techniques significantly increase the percentage of normal-form sperm in infertile patients with oligoastenoteratozoospermia without apparent cause.

1 Introduction

It is known that men are responsible for 47 % of the infertility problems [1, 2]. Despite the scientific medical advances, 40 % of the infertile patients who present abnormal semen analysis remain with no definite etiologic diagnosis, making the clinical treatment limited and frustrating [3]. On the other hand, some authors have successfully treated patients with varicocele or prostatitis and semen abnormalities using techniques of the Chinese Traditional Medicine [4-7]. We have proposed this prospective, controlled and blind study on infertile patients presented semen abnormalities in concentration, morphology and/or progressive motility to evaluate if acupuncture and moxa treatments could improve the semen parameters.

2 Materials and methods

2.1 Patients

2.1.1 Inclusion criteria

Patients sought infertility treatment in the Human Reproductive Division of the Department of Gynecology and Discipline of Urology of the São Paulo Federal University Paulista School of Medicine between January 1999 and September 2000. Nineteen patients without children were included with semen abnormalities in concentration, morphology and/or progressive motility detected in 2 semen analyses at the Human Reproduction Laboratory of São Paulo Federal University. They were otherwise healthy. The patients were randomized into two groups: the Study Group [n=9, aged 24 years ~ 43 years (mean 33.4 years) and married for 5 years ~ 11 years (median 7.6 years)] and the Control Group [n=10, aged 26 years ~ 42 years (mean 31.6 years) and married for 3 years ~ 8 years (median 6.1 years)]. The clinical investigation was approved by the Institutional Review Board.

2.1.2 Exclusion criteria

Patients with sperm concentration<5×10 6/mL, leukocytospermia, previous reproductive organ surgery or usage of drugs acting on the genito-urinary tract within 1 year were excluded.

2.2 Treatment

2.2.1 Study Group

Patients of the Study Group were treated with classic acupuncture and moxa (warming acupuncture points) at the therapeutic points (Tables1 & 2). Stainless steel disposable needles (0.25 mm×30 mm, Lautz Company, Brazil) were used. Needle depth and direction at each point were in accordance with the acupuncture treatment fundamentals [9], obtaining needling sensation (Teqi) at each point. Moxa was applied up to the appearance of local erythema. For this, the artemisia wool (Chinese National Medicines and Health Products Imp. Exp. Corp. Human Branch, Beijing, China) were used. Each session of treatment consisted of 25 minutes of acupuncture and 20 minutes of moxibustion, twice a week. The whole treatment course lasted 10 weeks. After the treatment course, an additional semen analysis was performed by a technician not knowing the details of the patient.

Table 1. Acupuncture points. (from: Zhao JS. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Shanghai: Shanghai University of TCM Publishing House. 2002; P 40-144).

E30 (Qichong)

R3 (Taixi)

E36 (Zu Sanli)

IG4 (Hegu)

BP6 (Sanyinjiao)

BP4 (Gongsun)

F3 (Taichong)

CS6 (Neiguan)

Table 2. Moxa Points. (from: Zhao JS. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Shanghai: Shanghai University of TCM Publishing House. 2002; P 40-144).

B23 (Shen Shu)

VC6 (Qi Hai)

VC 5 (Shimen)

PC46 (Qimen)

B52 (Zhishi)

VC4 (Guanyuan)

P9 (Taiyuan)

PC49 (Zigong)

B22 (San Jiao Shu)

VC3 (Zhongji)

B13 (Feishu)

VG4 (Mingmen)

B20 (Pishu)

B14 (Jue Yinshu)

B32 (Ciliao)

B21 (Weishu)

B15 (Xinshu)

2.2.2 Control Group

The control patients had acupuncture and moxa treatment performed at non-therapeutic indifferent points. Four ventral acupuncture points, two over the anterosuperior iliac spines and two over the acromioclavicular regions and four dorsal moxa points, two over the scapula and two over the posteroinferior spine, bilaterally were selected. The procedure was similar to those of the Study Group. Similarly, a semen analysis was performed at the end of the course

2.3 Semen analysis

Semen samples were obtained by masturbation after 3 days ~ 5 days sexual abstinence. After 30 min of liquefation at 37 ℃ , semen analyses were performed according to the laboratory manual of World Health Organization[8], while the sperm morphology was estimated as per Kruger et al [9]. Analyses were performed by two experienced technicians.

2.4 Statistical analysis

The Wilcoxon Tests [10] was used to compare the pre- and post-treatment data and the Mann-Whitney test[10] to compare the two groups in relation to the calculated percentage data. Nullity hypothesis rejection level was set in 5 %.

D % = (Post - Pre) ×100 %

3 Results

All patients completed the treatment, indicating a good patient tolerance to the procedure. However, statistical analysis was performed with 8 patients in the Study Group. One was excluded on account of incomplete seminal data.

The patients of the Study Group presented a significant increase in the percentage of normal-form sperm compared to the Control Group (Table 3).The comparison of other pre- and post-treatment data (volume, concentration, progressive motility and number of round cells) did not show significant differences between the two groups.

Table 3. Patients with semen abnormalities in Control and Study Groups according to the percentage of normal-form sperm observed in the pre- and post-treatment periods.





































































































Wilcoxon Test






Calculated T = 9.00

Calculated T = 2.50


Critical T = 3.00

Critical T = 1.00

Mann – Whitney Test

(D% Control×D% Study)

Calculated U = 16.00

Critical U = 17.00

D% Control < D% Study

4 Discussion

This study showed that the treatment of patients with oligo-, asteno-, terato- and oligoastenoteratozoospermia without apparent cause using acupuncture and moxa techniques can positively influence semen quality, once it improves semen morphology. This result was in accordance with Gerhard et al [5]. The possible mechanism by which acupuncture and moxa improve the sperm morphology may include their possible action through the nervous system. Acupuncture points are areas histologically differentiated, capable of generating an action potential which is conducted by the neural fibers A delta and/or C [11-13]. This stimulus at the posterior column medulla level can create a somatovisceral reflex arc or climb to superior centers, such as the reticular formation, thalamus and cerebral cortex [14, 15]. The response can be probable testicle and epididymis vasodilation. This fact is important when we correlate semen quality and the abnormal presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Previous studies have demonstrated that there were lower levels of seminal antioxidant agents in infertile patients, especially in those with compromised sperm motility, than in fertile men [16, 17, 18]. Besides, Gerhard et al [5], Siterman et al [6] and Siterman et al [7] indicated that in the treatment of infertile men with acupuncture, the best results were obtained in those with genital tract inflammation and varicocele, two sources of ROS [19, 20]. Thus, the lipidic peroxidation process in sperm plasma membrane and the high toxicity of the generated fatty acid peroxides proposed as being responsible for the functional and morphological alterations [21], would benefit from the vasodilatation caused by acupuncture and moxa treatments. This vasodilatation would supply antioxidant supplementation as vitamins C and E and glutathione to prevent plasma membrane damage by ROS, thus allowing the gamete recovery [16, 22]. Despite the small number of patients in this study, acupuncture and moxa treatments seem to favorably modify normal-form sperm counting.

In conclusion, the Chinese Traditional Medicine acupuncture and moxa techniques significantly increase the percentage of normal-form sperm in patients with oligoastenoteratozoospermia without apparent cause.


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[8] 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 7-14.
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[17] Bhardwaj A, Verma A, Majumdar S, Khanduja KL. Status of vitamin E and reduced glutathione in semen of oligozoospermic and azoospermic patients. Asian J Androl 2000; 2: 225-8.
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Researchers from New York's Weill Cornell Medical Center reviewed existing studies and found that acupuncture helps...

1. Reduce stress hormones that interfere with ovulation

2. Normalize hormones that regulate ovulation so an egg is released

3. Increase blood flow to the uterus, improving the chances of a fertilized egg implanting

4. Improve ovulation cycles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

5. Improve pregnancy rates in IVF cycles

6. Improves Sperm Count

7. Reduces occurrence of miscarriage

©Jonathan Orchard
  Wimbledon, Claygate and Hersham Acupuncture and Herbs