May 21, 2017
A significant breakthrough in effective and side-effect-free male contraceptives could be on the horizon, all thanks to something that’s been growing on earth for hundreds of years.
BBC reported the chemicals in dandelion root and in “thunder god vine,” a vine traditionally used in Chinese medicine, have been found to block fertilization. If the chemicals can be properly designed into accessible birth control, it could act as one of the first successful male contraceptives without the side effects women have suffered through for decades.
In an article appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, reported the chemicals pristimerin and lupeol disabled human sperm from swimming anywhere, specifically to eggs.
The chemical reportedly doesn’t result in long-term effects on the sperm, however; it simply halts its ease of movement so they may someday swim again when not on the contraceptive.
Ideally the chemicals could be used as a non-hormonal birth control pill for men. This is especially significant after tests to create a male contraceptive were halted after men couldn’t handle all the hormonal shifts, including acne, weight fluctuation, mood swings, depression, and dozens of other symptoms (all of which, by the way, are induced by almost all modern female birth control) the shot gave them.
BBC notes, however, that it could take some time for this to become reality because the chemicals exist in such low traces within the plants, which also include aloe vera and mango, and is expensive to extract.
If the day-to-day male contraceptive is still a long time coming, researchers say the chemicals could also be used to create an emergency post-coital birth control option for women without the hormonal rage that comes from taking the Plan B pill.
Unfortunately it could take quite a few years until any dandelion pill is created. The next step would be to conduct clinical trials and observe how the chemicals work outside of a lab.