A Substance Found In Aloe Vera Could Be A 'Natural' Morning After Pill

And there'd be fewer side effects, say scientists

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Scientists have discovered two chemicals found in wild plants which could make good alternatives to emergency contraception in the future.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found certain chemicals found in plants such as dandelions and aloe vera can prevent sperm from meeting an egg.

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What are these chemicals?

The substances are called lupeol and pristimerin, and are found in aloe vera, the vine of tomatoes, olives, grapes and dandelions.

The experts believe these chemicals called be made into pills for emergency contraception that can be taken by either men or women. It could mean the first unisex pill and would hopefully have limited side effects.

The pill would have to be taken within six hours of unprotected sex.

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The scientists say they hope the product can be available within the next three years. The team believes the compounds could be used either as an emergency contraceptive or as a permanent birth control option via a skin patch or vaginal ring.

Dr Polina Lishko, who led the research explained that the chemicals stop sperm tails from working.

"Sperm use their tail as a whip to push it through to the egg. The chemicals in the plants limit the whip, or its power kick .Without it, the sperm can't get to the egg and fertilise it."

The limitations

Unfortunately extracting these chemicals are very expensive to extract from wild plants because they are only present in very low levels. The scientists are currently trying to find a cheaper way of obtaining these chemicals.

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Other experts see the potential of this research though. Dr Allan Pacey, a sperm expert from the University of Sheffield said that a non-hormonal male contraceptive would be a very good thing indeed. He told the BBC:

"This is a very interesting study which shows that two natural compounds can knock out a key molecule on sperm that regulates how they swim in the final moments before fertilisation. Moreover, because the molecule is specific to sperm, it seems a good bet that this could be a novel contraceptive target that might lead to a male contraceptive pill without any of the side-effects so far seen in trials with hormone-jab contraceptives."

But proper clinical trials will be needed to see if it works in people, which could take several years. Professor Lishko and her team are now going to test how well these substances work in primates before they start studies on humans.

From: Net Doctor
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