Male fertility is declining… could black seed oil help reverse this worrying trend?
A large observational French study which included data from 26,000 men (collected between 1989 and 2005) has identified that over the 17-year period there has been one third reduction in sperm count and a similar reduction in proportion of healthy sperm. The decline occurred progressively, projecting a potentially continuing decline in years to come.
Explanations suggested for this worrying (and potentially disastrous) trend include; environmental toxins, smoking, diet, stress, obesity, tight underwear, polyethylene underwear and even women’s widespread use of the contraceptive (causing an increase in oestrogen levels in the water).
The findings of this French study have confirmed research conducted over the past 20 years that has shown declining sperm counts across the world.
Male factor infertility is the primary cause of sub-fertility in about 20% of sub-fertile couples. In 30% to 40% of couples both male and female factors contribute. Thus half of all infertility can be attributed in part or whole due to the male factor.
The effects of black seed oil on improving sperm count and quality in male fertility
In this article we will examine the studies looking at the effects of black seed oil on male sperm. The first three studies examined the effects on animals and the fourth is on human volunteers.
Study 1 – Effects of Nigella sativa (Habbatus sauda) Oil and Nicotine Chronic Treatments on Sperm Parameters and Testis Histological Features of Rats [iv]
This study compared two groups of rats, one was given black seed oil and the other corn seed oil. Additionally the effects of nicotine were examined with a third group receiving nicotine and a fourth normal saline. The treatment was given for 100 days and then sperm count and quality was evaluated.
Conclusions: Nicotine reduced sperm motility and morphology of normal and live sperms and also affected the testis histology, while black seed oil (Habbatus sauda) increased sperm quality and gave better testis histological (microscopic examination) features.
Study 2 –The effect of Nigella sativa oil on the sex organs and sperm characters in rats exposed to hydrogen peroxide [ii]
Oxidative stress is one of the factors linked to poor quality sperm. A study on rats exposed to an oxidative stressor (hydrogen peroxide, H2O2) found that if black seed oil was co-administered then the percentage of abnormal sperm was significantly reduced.
Conclusions: Nigella sativa oil possesses anti-oxidative actions to counteract impairment in sperm characters caused by H2O2 induced oxidative stress. Additionally the sperm count was boosted.
Study 3 –Effect of fixed oil of Nigella sativa on male fertility in normal and hyperlipidemic rats. [iii]
High blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are associated with poor semen quality and adverse effects on testicular function that may contribute to male infertility. The effect of black seed oil on male fertility in normal and hyperlipidemic rats was studied.
Sperm motility, sperm abnormalities and sperm count were all evaluated. Oral administration of Nigella sativa oil to either normal or hyperlipidemic rats improved the fertility index as manifested by an increase in seminal vesicle weight, testosterone level, sperm motility and sperm count and a decrease in sperm abnormalities.
Conclusions: the administration of black seed oil to hyperlipidemic rats improved their reproductive efficiency and produced additional protection against hyperlipidemia induced reduction in fertility.
Study 4 – Effects of Nigella sativa L. seed oil on abnormal semen quality in infertile men: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. [iv]
Nigella sativa seed oil (2.5ml twice daily) was given to a group of infertile men (number=34) demonstrated to have abnormal semen quality. A control group (number=34) was given a placebo liquid paraffin (2.5ml twice daily). The study results showed that sperm count, motility and morphology, semen volume, pH and round cells were all improved significantly in the black seed oil treatment group compared with placebo group after 2 months.
In conclusion there are some highly promising results for the beneficial effects of black seed oil on sperm count and sperm quality. Male infertility (which accounts for up to 50% of sub-fertility in couples trying to conceive [v]) may be improved by black seed oil.
Black seed oil seems to have a positive effect on sperm count and or quality in all studies.
This effect may be beneficial for sub-fertile couples trying to conceive in which sperm count or quality is a contributing factor.
[i] Cho Ping N, Hashim NH, Hasan Adli DS. Effects of Nigella sativa (Habbatus sauda) Oil and Nicotine Chronic Treatments on Sperm Parameters and Testis Histological Features of Rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:218293. doi: 10.1155/2014/218293. Epub 2014 May 21.
[ii] Tawfeek FK, et al. Effect of Nigella sativa oil treatment on the sex organs and sperm characters in rats exposed to hydrogen peroxide. Mesopotamia J. Agric., Vol. 34. No. 1 (2006)
[iii] Bashandy SA, et al. Effect of fixed oil ofNigella sativaon male fertility in normal and hyperlipidemic rats. Inter. J. Pharmacol., 3(1): 27-33.
[iv] Kolahdooz M, et al. Effects of Nigella sativa L. seed oil on abnormal semen quality in infertile men: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.Phytomedicine. 2014 Mar 25. pii: S0944-7113(14)00108-1.
[v] Patel ZP, Niederberger CS. Male factor assessment in infertility. Med Clin North Am. 2011 Jan;95(1):223-34.