Common to southern Spain and northern Africa (read: Algeria and Morocco) as well as the Himalayas, this perennial plant is both a popular food condiment and a medicinal herb. It also appears under the names pellitory or ‘Mount Atlas Daisy.’ It was included in the repertoire of herbs that Moroccan doctors would take with them from town to town in a kind of medicinal market stall, while it has also been frequently used in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine as a rejuvenator.
Modern interest in the herb is increasing concurrent with recent reports about its health uses. The pelloritine and anacycline derived from the plant also play a role in fashioning an insecticide “toxic to cockroaches and other species of chewing insects,” though this is done in combination with a good number of other plant derivatives. Less threateningly, though, it has analgesic properties that – very much like the spilanthes acmella plant – have been used to alleviate toothaches and has seen it being used as an ingredient in some mouthwashes (it also has benefits for oral health owing to its sialogogue [salivation inducing] properties.) Most importantly for our purposes, though, it now has some reported benefits as an aphrodisiac and testosterone booster.
The benefits in question were discovered just in the past year, in a study conducted at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Dr. Hari Singh Gour University (Sagar, India.) After conducting a 28-day trial upon male Wistar rats, in which doses in increments of 50mg – from 50-150 – were used, researchers concluded that “ethanol solution extract of the roots of A. pyrethrum has androgenic potential and may improve male fertility by enhancing spermatogenesis.” This conclusion was reached after substantial levels of LH [luteinizing hormone], FSH [follicle-stimulating hormone] and serum testosterone were found in the treated rats upon dosing them (these levels increased whether rats were given the ‘small,’ ‘medium’ or ‘large’ dose of the extract.)
Products containing anacyclus pyrethrum are somewhat thin on the ground at the moment, with one of the more widely available being the Himalaya company’s ‘VigorCare’ libido-enhacing caplets. This is far from a pure extract, with common spices such as clove, nutmeg and saffron being included in small amounts. Other available products are Anabeta from Physique Enhancing Science and Gaspari Nutrition’s Anatropin. Common positive anecdotes or comments on Anabeta – which, as always, should not be given the same weight as reports from independent verifications – are not out of the ordinary for supplements of this variety, noting the anticipated effects of increased appetite, libido, workout ‘pump’ and personal disposition (arguably, the last can be assumed to be an effect of the others, rather than existing independently from them.)
Increased passage of urine has also been reported by users of the same supplement, also accompanied by an increased desire to defecate (i.e. “the runs”) in some cases. Akarkara powdered extracts, meanwhile, are available from a number of Ayurvedic medicine vendors, most of whom will cite the herb’s benefits in preventing premature ejaculation along with its aforementioned usefulness as an aphrodisiac.
One welcome side effect of taking anacyclus orally is its ability to increase the functioning of the immune system, something that is achieved by resisting the effects of the immune system suppressant cyclophosphamide. Among the findings of a 2010 study on this subject was that candida albicans fungal infection was reduced, while the number of leukocytes (i.e. white blood cells) in the body was also affected. As such, it can be said that the anacyclus pyrethrum has some value as an adaptogen, whose possibilities for reducing environmental stress factors may be beneficial to those otherwise busy with a regimen of serious testosterone-boosting exercises or supplement consumption. Interestingly, the plant has long been used within Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a rasayana or longevity increaser, with specifically these immune system modulating effects in mind. In this respect, it is comparable to other Ayurvedic staples like bryonia laciniosa, which itself is also attracting attention for its potential anabolic effects.
Anacyclus pyrethrum is not associated with any serious side effects, and the safety precautions involved with taking it should not be too different from the norm. The lethal median dose would be a little over 7 grams in one serving for a 200 pound human. Nonetheless, consultation with a physician is still a good idea before committing to a personal regimen with this herb, especially in light of the small number of publicly available studies done on the subject.