Hibiscus macranthus, native to West-Central Africa (particularly Cameroon), is one of the several hundred plants forming the hibiscus genus, and has traditionally been used as a complement to the leaf vegetable basella alba. The hibiscus family itself forms part of the malvaceae or mallow family of plants, of which it is the largest genus with about 300 different plant species. In West African tradition, use of hibiscus macranthus and / or basella alba has been as a means of increasing male fertility, while its inclusion in various other leaf mixtures aims at “regularizing the menstrual cycle and [treating] dysmenorrhoea or cases of infertility in women” (some of the other ingredients meant to act synergistically with hibiscus macranthus are aloe buettneri and justicia insularis.)
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In 2006, a paper was published in the Asian Journal of Andrology by a Cameroonian research team at the University of Yaoundé, who used both basella alba and hibiscus macranthus in a series of tests to determine the androgenic effects thereof. According to this source, hibiscus macranthus can be used as natural testosterone booster. These tests isolated methylene chloride as the compound leading to the increase in testosterone production, with a methanol extract of these herbs proving most effect in 50ug/ml doses (testosterone was actually seen to decrease by 60% once this dosage was raised by another 50ug/ml, while a comparatively weak 10ug/ml dosage exhibited minimal effects.)
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This paper is something of a follow-up to a 1999 report from the same researchers, who, at that time, administered both fresh and dried leaves of basella alba and hibiscus macranthus to rats in a liquid extract (along with a control group administered water.) Rats given the ‘fresh leaf’ mixture showed a significant increase in body weight – while it was not determined how much of this weight had to do with an increase in androgenic activity, these rats did nonetheless exhibit an increase in the weight of their seminal vesicles (and a concurrent increase in sperm count), beginning with the 7th day of examining the microscopic structure of testes cells. Read more – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16372129.
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Unfortunately, supplements containing hibiscus macranthus are not common, if available at all. Those who are curious to try this for themselves may have to settle for an alternative supplement containing basella alba (in fact, internet searches for hibiscus macranthus supplements will, more likely than not, merely bring up supplements containing basella alba yet citing the study that noted positive effects of dosing rats with both of these substances.) “Recycle” by Purus Labs is one such product, promising an increase in free testosterone along with a decrease in estrogen and DHT. Available in a 100-capsule supply (with four capsules to be taken daily), the per-serving amount of basella alba contained in this compound is 100mg, an amount which comes close to the 125mg per-serving amount of the main ingredient, a 70% extract of tribulus alatus. This product is available at a somewhat higher retail price than the majority of other testosterone aids, with a price tag of around $65 for the supply mentioned.
As of now, it seems that more time will be required to fully reveal the health benefits of hibsicus macranthus, as it seems to be operating in the shadow of basella alba rather than being seen as an useful entity on its own. The truly skeptical, in addition to noticing that there are no studies conducted with hibiscus macranthus as an isolated substance, will likely also notice that the studies done to date are all conducted by the same research team in Yaoundé. The lack of human trials using hibsicus macranthus may also inspire prospective consumer ‘guinea pigs’ to play the waiting game until more such trials have been conducted, given that not much is known about what dosages may produce health effects, or what might be considered a lethal median dose of any extract (unless we go by the studies conducted on Swiss mice.) The good news in this regard is that, when studying the microscopic tissue of the Cameroonian lab rats’ testes, no negative toxicological signs were noted.
Another research group using hibiscus macranthus as part of an extract concluded that “aqueous extract is not short-term poisonous, but presents unfavorable effects in the long run (60 days)” – a finding that is, once again, somewhat clouded by the fact that numerous other medicinal plants contributed to this aqueous extract.