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Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity


The incidence of sexual inadequancy in human males, including sexual impotence, and the concern that it causes in the affected subjects, are indirectly indicated by the great number of available treatments (drugs or combination of drugs for systemic administration, topical application or intracavernous injection). The increasing number of men seeking help for impotence has expanded basic physiological and pharmacological research on sexual performance.

Many plants extracts are traditionally employed among different cultures in order to improve sexual performances; in spite of this, pharmacologists generally disparage this use, and few experimental studies have been performed in order better to define claims of efficacy.

Lepidium meyenii Walpers, well known in South America as ‘Maca’, is an Andean crop which it is found only in a very restricted area of central Peru in the department of Jinin and Pasco, in the agro-ecological zone above 4000 m where low temperature and strong winds limit other crops, but it can be successfully cultivated outside its current ‘natural’ habitat. Maca is a biennial herbaceous plant, whose subterraneous part (hypocotyl) is edible and highly valued for its nutritional value (especially proteins and minerals). The rural community is firmly convinced that eating Maca enables couples who think they are infertile to have children. Moreover, recently, athletes are finding Maca to be an excellent alternative to anabolic steroids (but the real efficacy in this field has still to be totally proved).

The aim of the present study is to determine the effect of acute and chronic oral administration of a purified extract from L. meyenii root on male rats sexual performances and spontaneous locomotion.