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Plants Used for Reproduction and Contraception . Plants affecting reproduction. Many ways plants used for reproductive system Contraceptives Aphrodiasics Aids in child birth. Development of modern contraceptives. 1933 Corner and Allen isolated progesterone from corpus luteum

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Plants affecting reproduction
Plants affecting reproduction

  • Many ways plants used for reproductive system

    • Contraceptives

    • Aphrodiasics

    • Aids in child birth

Development of modern contraceptives
Development of modern contraceptives

  • 1933 Corner and Allen isolated progesterone from corpus luteum

  • 1933 Butenandt and Jacobi discover plant chemicals similar to female sex hormones

  • 1934 structural formula determined by Wintersteiner and Allen

  • 1939-1941 Russel Marker described use of plant sources to produce progesterone

    • Disogenin from Dioscorea (wild yam) especially promising

  • 1945-1960, Pincus, Chang, Rock worked on development of birth control pill - clinical trials in 1950s and FDA approval in 1960

Human steroids
Human steroids




Yams dioscorea spp
Yams - Dioscorea spp.

  • True yams - Tuber crop

  • Important staples in many areas:

    • West Africa, southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, and Caribbean Islands

  • Genus has several hundred species of which ten are major food sources

  • Yams have been cultivated for over 5000 years in tropical Africa.

Dioscorea tropical vine
Dioscorea - tropical vine

Tubers of dioscorea
Tubers of Dioscorea

Other herbal contraceptives
Other herbal contraceptives

  • Silphium or Silphion

  • A plant in the genus Ferula – parsley family

  • Related to giant fennel

  • Native to northern Africa near the city of ancient city of Cyrene


  • Pliny, Theophrastus, Soranus, and Dioscorides

  • Another species of Ferula (Ferulaassafoetida) became an acceptable substitute for silphium after silphium became extinct

Other ferula species
Other Ferula species

  • Modern researchers tested Ferula spp and found anti-fertility effects in the family

  • Crude extracts of asafetida and Ferulaorientalis inhibited implantation of fertilized eggs in rats by 40% to 50%

  • Other Ferula species have similar results; one species was found to be nearly 100% effective in preventing pregnancy when administered to female rats within three days after intercourse

Other plants in ancient world


Queen Anne’s Lace



Date Palm

Doom Palm



Squirting cucumber





Chaste tree

Other Plants in Ancient World

Queen anne s lace
Queen Anne’s Lace

  • Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota (wild carrot or queen anne’s lace) for centuries as a contraceptive

  • Earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work by Hippocrates

Distribution of daucus carota
Distribution of Daucus carota

Queen anne s lace2
Queen Anne’s Lace

  • Animal studies have shown that extracts of seeds disrupt implantation

  • Also a fertilized egg that has recently implanted will be released

  • Terpenoids in seed block progesterone synthesis in pregnant animals

  • Some “herbalists” suggests it makes the uterus slippery so that the egg is unable to implant


  • Punicia granatum is a shrub or small tree native to southern Asia

  • Widely known in ancient times - and used medicinally


  • Contemporary studies show pomegranate has contraceptive properties

  • Female rats 72% reduction in fertility

  • In another study 50% reduction in fertility

  • Guinea pigs 100% reduction in fertility

  • 40 days after removing pomegranate fertility was restored in both animals

Male contraceptive
Male Contraceptive

  • For a number of years researchers looking into the question of the development of an effective oral contraceptive for men

  • Much attention focused on gossypol from cottonseed oil

    • Known to cause male infertility in areas where cottonseed oil used

    • Decades of work on the development of gossypol as a contraceptive – stopped when side effects showed hypokalaemia – low level of K+ in blood