For LOW SPERM COUNT, focused endocrine-support with Ashwagandha, Eleutherococcus and Rhodiola improves testicular function and enhances sperm production. Optimal amounts of vitamins B5, B6 and C, along with astragalus and botanicals for long and short-term adrenal stabilization, further help to increase testosterone release which is necessary for healthy sperm development. Adrenal fatigue, or depletion resulting from long-term stress, can have a significant injurious impact on men’s fertility and overall physiological condition.
The adrenal glands naturally secrete cortisol, which is essential for life and maintains healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, muscle tone, and prepares the body for action. However, when the sympathetic nervous system is pushed into overdrive and stress hormone levels climb too high, excess cortisol can lower the amount of testosterone in circulation. Remedies that stabilize adrenal cortisol output will encourage the steady testosterone levels needed for healthy sperm production.
Adaptogens are plant-derived compounds that encourage and restore normal function, by either enhancing a deficiency or by calming over-activity, whichever the target organ needs: an example of the intelligence of nature. Botanical adrenal adaptogens normalize endocrine function and support adaptation to environmental stress, allowing the body to maintain stable hormone levels, energy output, and sleep quality.
Ashwagandha is a mighty medicinal herb and one of the most important botanicals in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of holistic medicine based on natural healing. For low sperm count, ashwagandha is proven to increase sperm output and reproductive health. Classified as an adaptogen, it has been used for over 3,000 years to help the body manage stress. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, and it is also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. Extracts from the plant’s root or leaves are used to treat a variety of conditions including inflammation.
In a notable 2011 study, 60 infertile men who received ashwagandha for stress experienced better sperm quality and were found to have higher antioxidant levels. After three months of treatment, 14% of the men’s partners had become pregnant.1 Another study gave ashwagandha to a large group of 180 infertile men for a three month period. The researchers found repaired seminal quality including better sperm concentration and motility. They identified ashwagandha as a powerful remedy in the clinical management and treatment of infertility.2 A 2010 research trial looked at 75 healthy fertile men and 75 men undergoing infertility screening. Treatment with Ashwagandha led to improved sperm count and motility, reduced oxidative stress, and increased testosterone levels.3
Eleutherococcus, a member of the ginseng family, is another adaptogenic herbal gift from nature that helps the body manage stress. One of the most extensively researched botanicals in the world, eleuthero root is rich in antioxidants and saponins that help to balance hormones, support the adrenals, and benefit energy levels. A clinical study designed to evaluate the effect of eleutherococcus on semen quality revealed a positive improvement in the number of spermatozoids in the whole ejaculate. The results showed a higher percentage of active or normokinetic sperm, and improved fertility indexes. 4 A research study in 2009 examined the effects of three months of daily eleutherococcus consumption by infertile men. At the end, sperm counts and sperm motility were noted to improve, as well as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone levels.5
Rhodiola, also known as golden root, has been used in the traditional system of medicine in Europe and Asia most importantly as an anti-stress and adaptogenic agent. Infertility can cause and be caused by debilitating exhaustive stress. Rhodiola helps the body react to stress and anxiety in the best way possible while nourishing the adrenals. Better resistance to stress helps to build strong healthy sperm, and to correct decreased libido. A fascinating study assessed the effects of rhodiola and its polysaccharides on the damage caused by freezing sperm. Rhodiola significantly reversed the cryodamage: After sperm defrosted, they had improved motility, better mitochondrial activity for energy production, stronger acrosomal integrity to enable sperm to penetrate an ovum, and greater plasma membrane integrity.6 Rhodiola protected and strengthened sperm count and vitality in all these ways.
Vitamins B5 and C are essential cofactors for the adrenals to make correct amounts of their hormones. Therefore, these vitamins are necessary for maintaining male hormone balance, and the optimal testosterone-to-cortisol ratios needed for sperm development. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble nutrient that plays a pivotal role in fertility; a deficiency results in poor sperm. Stress and a poor diet including processed foods and excess caffeine can cause a deficiency. Also called pyridoxine; vitamin B6 has powerful, fertility enhancing antioxidant properties.
In our clinic, male patients generally take a blend of ashwagandha, eleutherococcus and rhodiola blend along with balanced doses of vitamins B5 and C, for 3 to 6 months. We see that adrenal stabilization and the resulting improvement in sperm count build up steadily over several months or longer. Sperm formation takes almost three months, and so we allow at least this amount of time before assessing the benefits.
A formula including a daily dose of: Ashwagandha root extract (3.5% with anolides) 100mg; Eleutherococcus Senticosus (20:1) 50mg; Rhodiola rosea extract (3% rosavins, 1% salidroside) 200mg; with Vitamin C, buffered (ascorbate) 500mg; Vitamin B5 (calcium pantothenate) 100mg; Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) 50mg. Optional supportive ingredients could include: Astragalus root 150mg, Panax Ginseng extract (10% ginsenosides) 100mg, and Schizandra berry 75mg. This formula should be taken with breakfast or lunch, or divided between each of these meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
2. Gupta, Ashish, et al. “Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 149.1 (2013): 208-214.
3. Ahmad, Mohammad Kaleem, et al. “Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males.” Fertility and sterility 94.3 (2010): 989-996.
4. Mkrtchyan, A., et al. “A phase I clinical study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang™ versus ginseng and valerian on the semen quality of healthy male subjects.” Phytomedicine 12.6-7 (2005): 403-409.
5. Madhukar, Dama, and Singh Rajender. “Hormonal treatment of male infertility: promises and pitfalls.” Journal of andrology 30.2 (2009): 95-112.
6. Yang, Shen-Min, et al. “Protective effect of Rhodiola rosea polysaccharides on cryopreserved boar sperm.” Carbohydrate polymers 135 (2016): 44-47.