Most of the highlighted health conditions arise from poor lifestyle choices, including smoking, alcohol consumption, and poor healthcare utilization. Fortunately, most of these illnesses are amenable to early intervention, including nutraceuticals and dietary supplement utilization for approved ancillary therapy.
Malaysia is among the Asia-Pacific countries dominating the global health and wellness market thanks to its nutraceutical ingredients supply. Its ethnic diversity and biodiversity allow experts to harness the health benefits of unique botanicals like cistanche tubulosa to generate nutraceuticals that enhance men’s cardiovascular health.
What Is Cistanche Tubulosa?
Also known as desert ginseng or Rou Cong Rong, cistanche tubulosa is a desert plant consumed as a tonic in traditional Chinese medicine for its potential benefits as a natural supplement. The traditional Chinese herb has active compounds that may support many health benefits, including:
Support healthy aging: elevated blood serum testosterone levels improve physical function by alleviating frailty and chronic fatigue syndrome in aging men.
Overcome chronic fatigue syndrome, especially in exercise performance. Additionally,cistanche tubulosa may boost energy levels, as shown in studies featuring yang-deficient mice proposing cistanche as a potential ancillary therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. Yang deficiency is also a factor in brain health and brain function. Later in this piece, you can read more about herba cistanche and its effect on brain function, nerve growth factor, and the central nervous system.
However, what does modern research say about the potential benefits of using cistanche tubulosa extract, such as Morilite, as an herbal supplement? Keep reading to learn more.
Cistanche Male Benefits
The cistanche tubulosa health benefits highlighted above apply to both genders. So, why is the traditional Chinese herb in a unique position to induce a positive effect on male health?
Cistanche benefits stem from the effect of its chemical constituents on testosterone levels. Although testosterone levels in men are synonymous with the male reproductive system, the hormone impacts multiple physiological functions, contributing to overall male health.
Besides regulating sperm count and enhancing sexual function, optimum testosterone levels regulate bone and muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production, helping to curb chronic fatigue syndrome by boosting energy levels. Also, optimum testosterone levels in men boost the immune system.
One study review featuring bird species established that testosterone may stimulate antibody-producing cells or lymphoid cells to release more antibodies by suppressing stress hormone production. Men have a lower innate and adaptive immune response than their female counterparts, making optimum immune system function a crucial male health benefit.
Also, reduced testosterone levels are among the identified risk factors for chronic renal disease. Nonetheless, further research is necessary to ascertain testosterone’s role in chronic renal disease
So, how do the active compounds in cistanche extract boost testosterone levels? The prevailing theory is that it does so by inducing testicular steroidogenic enzymes. Testicular steroidogenic enzymes are the enzyme category responsible for testosterone synthesis.
One study utilizing cistanche tubulosa ethanol extract on rat sex hormone levels established that traditional Chinese medicine induces an androgynous effect. The study utilized non-volatile phenylethanoid glycosides, the active compounds in cistance tubulosa or herba cistanche, to measure sperm parameters. Results from the study showed that the non-volatile phenylethanoid glycosides raised testosterone serum levels in the rats after an increase in the expression of testicular steroidogenic enzymes.
Cistanche Tubulosa Ethanol Extract and Male Sexual Health Benefits
Male sexual health comprises the physical and psychological factors that allow a man to sustain normal sexual function. Healthy/ normal sexual function encompasses libido, erection, ejaculation, and orgasm. Therefore, issues like low libido and erectile dysfunction indicate poor sexual health.
So, how does cistanche tubulosa restore normal sexual function in men? As highlighted above, cistanche tubulosa ethanol extract triggers increased serum rat sex hormone levels in blood serum. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in male vertebrae, and cistanche tubulosa’s effect on testicular steroidogenic enzymes can boost testosterone levels.
Cistanche Tubulosa Effect On Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the persistent inability to get an erection or maintain one long enough for sexual penetration. It has numerous causes, including pre-existing medical conditions and psychological factors.
ED prevalence in Malaysia is approximately 70% among men aged 40 and above and ranges from mild to moderate and severe. Herba cistanche is among the traditional Chinese herbs showing immense potential as an ED remedy.
Low sperm count has numerous causes, including hormonal imbalance (causing a drop in testosterone levels), poor lifestyle choices, existing and previous illnesses, and semen lipid peroxidation (cell damage from lipid oxidation).
Cistanche tubulosa may tackle low sperm count from the hormonal imbalance angle by activating the testicular steroidogenic enzymes to increase testosterone synthesis. On the other hand, the chemical constituents in cistanche tubulosa may counter semen lipid peroxidation, preventing oxidative stress damage to healthy sperm.
Other Compounds That Enhance Male Sexual Health
Besides cistanche tubulosa extract, other nutrients that may boost men’s sexual health include:
Cistanche tubulosa has numerous physical and mental/ cognitive health benefits for men. Below is an overview of what cistanche tubulosa does for your body.
The bioactive ingredients in cistanche tubulosa, including the phenylethanoid glycosides present in most cistanche species, induce the following physical health benefits.
Cistanche Tubulosa Physical Advantages
Enhanced sexual function: Cistanche tubulosa promotes sexual health in men by boosting testosterone levels, among other mechanisms of action highlighted above. Besides men’s sexual health, the traditional Chinese herb may help manage female infertility symptoms.
Lower cholesterol levels: Poor lifestyle choices, including a sedentary lifestyle and poor diets, increase the risk of high cholesterol. As highlighted above, elevated cholesterol level from an unhealthy body weight is among the prevalent men-centric health issues in Malaysia. Cistanche tubulosa extract has hypocholesterolemic effects, meaning it suppresses blood serum cholesterol levels by enhancing the expression of enzymes that maintain cholesterol balance.
Improve cardiovascular health: High cholesterol is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack. The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) molecules tend to accumulate in the blood vessels of men with high cholesterol, compromising their blood-pumping efficiency and straining the heart. Fortunately, cistanche tubulosa's positive effect on cholesterol balance may inadvertently help preserve cardiovascular health.
Counters oxidative stress: The active compounds in cistanche tubulosa are scavengers that attach to reactive oxygen species (ROS), preventing the latter from damaging healthy cells. Oxidative stress caused by ROS is in the pathogenesis of multiple diseases, including those that impede cognitive function and promote unhealthy aging.
Age-related inflammation or "inflammaging) is in the pathogenesis of numerous age-related conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. Thankfully, cistanche tubulosa's antiinflammation and neuroprotective function may help counter Alzheimer's and dementia.
Cistanche Tubulosa Cognitive Benefits
Cognitive function is the collection of mental processes that empower humans to process and survive in their environments via knowledge acquisition, retention, perception, and reasoning. The brain is the primary organ that modulates cognitive function, so below is an overview of cistanche tubulosa’s role in improving brain function and overall brain health.
A study using cistanche tubulosa extract on learning and memory-impaired mice established that the herbal remedy’s primary active ingredients, phenylethanoid glycosides, enhanced memory and learning via the induction of the nerve growth factor. The nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neuropeptide (small amino acid chains that regulate neural activity) that modulates the growth, survival, and proliferation of target neurons. In the case of cognitive functions, the target neuron is the choligenic neuron, which regulates core cognitive functions, including attention, planning, and memory.
While emotions are not cognitive functions, they are states of cognition that influence behavior, including decision-making and problem-solving. Moreover, emotions influence learning behavior and may motivate learning.
However, emotional disorders like depression can compromise cognitive functions. Depression develops from the dysregulation of various body systems, but cistanche tubulosa has antidepressant properties that may help alleviate the effects of depression. The herb potentially induces its antidepressant effects by downregulating stress hormone production while increasing dopamine (motivational hormone) production.
Nutritional Profile of Cistanche Tubulosa
For the most part, herba cistanche species contain bioactive ingredients that interact with various body systems to induce potential therapeutic benefits. However, cistanche tubulosa contains nutrients that may contribute to the body’s regular nutritional needs besides its nutraceutical elements. Below is an overview of the dietary nutrients in most cistanche tubulosa species or varietals.
Vitamin C: Cistanche tubulosa contains multiple water-soluble vitamins, but vitamin C dominates quantity-wise, comprising approximately 41% of the herb’s total vitamin content. Vitamin C's primary role in Cistanche tubulosa products is to support antioxidant effects.
B complex vitamins: The other water-soluble vitamins in cistanche tubulosa include vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12. Vitamins B1 and B6 occur in the highest concentrations, while vitamin B3 occurs in the lowest concentrations. Nonetheless, the B complex vitamins contribute to synthesizing co-enzymes for cell metabolic reactions.
Essential macronutrients: Cistanche tubulosa species contain essential nutrients supporting vital body functions. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium occur in higher concentrations, while iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium occur in trace amounts.
However, the mineral concentrations may vary slightly depending on the species and the region of origin. For example, the cistanche deserticola cultured in a desert has a unique profile from that in a saline region.
Amino acids: Cistanche tubulosa has a high amino acid concentration. Amino acids are essential for protein and peptide synthesis.
So, is cistanche tubulosa safe to consume? One studyon cistanche tubulosa tonic generated from the herb’s bark established that the herb is reasonably safe for participant consumption. Moreover, follow-up toxicity tests after 28 days of cistanche tubulosa supplementation yielded no adverse effects.
Second, what is the recommended cistanche dosage for best results? The Chinese pharmacopoeia recommends taking 20mg of cistanche tubulosa daily as the ideal clinical dose. Moreover, it highlights that exceeding the dose does not enhance the herb’s clinical effects.
Nonetheless, factors like age and the target therapeutic benefit may call for varying doses. Therefore, contact a qualified healthcare professional before taking cistanche tubulosa supplements for guidance on ideal cistanche dosage.
You can take cistanche tubulosa supplements with or without food. Also, while the herbal remedy is reasonably safe, consumers may experience mild side effects if they consume higher doses, including nausea, mild digestive problems, and dizziness.
Cistanche Tubulosa in the Malaysian Context
The prevalence of herbal medicine use in Malaysia is at 33.9%, indicating mostly favorable views towards herbal supplements. Moreover, herb aligns with the country's herbal monograph development by documenting high-value botanicals with the potential for producing nutraceuticals.
Additionally, its benefits align with the prevalent health problems in Malaysia's adult male population. Therefore, there is a ready market for high-quality cistanche tubulosa supplements in Malaysia
Male health remains a somewhat abandoned subject. Fortunately, cistanche tubulosa presents a solution for Malaysian men conscious about prioritizing their health naturally. With remarkable effects, it's impossible to deny the significant role that cistanche tubulosa can play in improving your health and wellness.
From improved brain power and elevated energy levels to achieving healthy testosterone levels. As a Malaysian man, you should consider taking cistanche tubulosa supplements.