Cistanche tubulosa is a plant species that grows in the northwestern desert regions of China and similar arid regions of countries such as Iran, India and Mongolia. It lacks chlorophyll and is known as a parasitic herb - meaning it obtains nutrients and water from host plants whose roots it attaches to.
Cistanche is used as a Traditional Chinese Medicine and is known as the "ginseng of the deserts".
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cistanche is prescribed for a range of conditions including chronic renal disease, impotence and female infertility.
More than 100 compounds have been isolated and identified from cistanche. The major active compounds responsible for cistanche's hormone regulation properties are called phenylethanoid glycosides (PhGs).
Research has shown cistanche extract increases testosterone and progesterone levels by inducing testicular steroidogenic enzymes. Although these studies were conducted in mice, the results showed comprehensive benefits that included increase sperm count and sperm motility plus a decrease in abnormal sperm.
The main use of Cistanche Tubulosa Stem Extract is to increase levels of the hormone testosterone.
The most common reason for taking cistanche relate to having lower than normal levels of testosterone. Signs include low sex drive, fatigue, reduce muscle mass and erectile dysfunction.
Wang, T et al. Cistanche tubulosa ethanol extract mediates rat sex hormone levels by induction of testicular steroidgenic enzymes. Pharmaceutical Biology. Volume 54, 2016 Issue 3.
Wang, Q et al. Phenylethanol glycosides from Cistanche tubulosa improved reproductive dysfunction by regulating testicular steroids through CYP450-3β-HSD pathway. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2020 Apr 6;251:112500.
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