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What Are the Side Effects of Butea Superba?

author image Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier is a seasoned columnist and feature writer. Since 1992, her work has appeared in Mother Earth News, The Herb Quarterly, Parenting, Club Mom and in many other print and digital publications. She is also the author of five books, including "50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Baby."
What Are the Side Effects of Butea Superba?
Butea superba is traditionally used in Thailand to treat sexual dysfunction. Photo Credit thailand image by momesso from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Butea superba is a botanical native to Thailand traditionally used by aging Thai men to enhance sexual libido and performance. Also known as the "rejuvenating herb," this climbing vine and member of the Papilonaceae family represents several species, only two of which are grown for commercial production. Unfortunately, little scientific evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of this herb as a natural sexual enhancer. In addition, there may be side effects associated with Butea superba.

Androgen Disruption

A team of biologists from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand published a paper in the June 20, 2008 issue of Maturitas that described the effects of a powdered form of Butea superba root on serum levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone in male Wistar rats. Varying concentrations of the powdered root, mixed with water, was administered to the rats over a period of 90 days, with blood samples taken every 30 days. At the end of the experiment, researchers found that the rats receiving high doses of Butea superba had larger spleens and reduced serum levels of testosterone. Other changes in blood chemistry observed were increases in alkaline phosphatase and aspartate aminotransferase, which are indications of toxicity affecting the gallbladder and red blood cells, respectively.

Cell Proliferation

A different team of researchers from Chulalongkorn University found results similar to the study referenced above the following year, this time in female rats. In addition, they found evidence that this herb exerts anti-estrogenic effects. In ovariectomized rats, low doses of Butea superba resulted in an increase in the number of uterine glands, as well as an increased thickness of the uterine wall. Rats with ovaries presented the same results with higher doses. The scientists also found that serum levels of luteinizing hormone increased, which may have contributed to the increase in uterine weight and number of glands in both groups.

Other Risks

Butea superba has not been found to produce significant side effects in humans, but long-term studies are lacking. However, some herbal formulas based on Butea superba often contain other herbs that may produce side effects or react with other medications. Examples include Muira puama, damiana, yohimbe and various others. Consult your health care practitioner if you suffer from erectile dysfunction or low libido to discuss all of your treatment options.

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