The Many Health Benefits of Butea Superba

Butea superba laying on a table
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Butea superba is a shrub native to Thailand, India, and Vietnam believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Used in traditional Thai medicine, the roots of Butea superba contain compounds said to improve sexual performance, treat erectile dysfunction, and even boost sperm counts.

In scientific studies, Butea superba's roots have been found to contain a variety of flavonoids, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects that provide a number of health benefits. 

Health Benefits

The majority of evidence to support Butea superba's potential health benefits comes from preliminary research on animals, although a few small clinical trials and case reports have been published.

Erectile Dysfunction

Several rat-based studies published in recent years show that Butea superba may aid in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These studies include a report published in the journal Andrologia in 2012, in which tests on diabetic rats determined that Butea superba may help improve erectile function by stimulating circulation.

While few studies have tested Butea superba's effects on human health, one clinical trial published in the Asian Journal of Andrology in 2003 suggests that the herb may help treat erectile dysfunction. In the study, men ages 30 to 70 with erectile dysfunction were treated with Butea superba extract for three months. At the end of the study, 82.4% of subjects reported significant improvement in erectile function.

However, a 2010 study comparing Butea superba to Sildenafil, the key ingredient in Viagra, showed mixed results. In the first arm of the study, the herbal preparation was found to be slightly more effective than the erectile dysfunction drug. However, the second arm of the trial was unable to replicate those results.

Increased Sex Drive

Butea superba has long been used as an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine, however, this use has not been fully studied.

In a case study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2012, a 35-year-old man taking locally prepared Butea superba supplements to try to reverse hair loss reported to his doctor that his sex drive had increased. Lab tests revealed abnormally high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male sex hormone derived from the androgen testosterone. Low androgen levels are linked to decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction in men, the study authors note.

While Butea superba increased androgen levels in this subject, further testing is needed before it can be recommended as a treatment for low libido in med.

Sperm Count

Butea superba has been studied in animal models as a potential fertility enhancer in men. A 2006 study of rats found eight-weeks of Butea superba treatment increased sperm counts by 16% compared to controls. However, there is no research linking the herb to increased sperm counts in humans and it is too soon to recommend it as a treatment for low sperm counts.

Possible Side Effects

Although little is known about the safety of regular use of Butea superba, findings from animal-based research indicate that the herb may have adverse effects on blood chemistry and testosterone levels. Some research suggests in raises testosterone levels, however, additional studies suggest high doses of the herb may have the opposite effect.

Butea Superba is believed to act similarly to other hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), gonadotropic releasing hormone (GnRH), and testosterone. People who are undergoing hormone treatments or taking anabolic steroids should not take Butea superba.

Butea superba has been shown to increase androgen levels, which has been linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), increased facial and body hair, and acne in women. Pregnant women should not take Butea superba.

Given the potential health risks of this supplement, consult a physician prior to using Butea superba is advised.

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Dietary supplements containing Butea superba are available in capsules and powder form and sold online, as well as in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in natural products.

Butea superba is used in Thai medicine and can be purchased online from Thailand retailers, however, the quality and potency of the supplements may not be known. In addition, dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

To ensure you are purchasing a quality product look for a trusted independent, third-party seal on the label, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.

There is no standard recommended dosage for Butea superba supplements in the United States, but Thailand FDA has set the upper safe limit at 100 mg daily, or 0.2 mg per 100 g bodyweight. Follow the directions on the supplement label.

Common Questions

Review these common questions when considering using butea superba.

Can Butea Superba Help to Regrow Hair? 

Butea superba is sometimes used as an herbal remedy to treat male pattern baldness and hair loss. The working theory is the herb increases testosterone levels, which should, in turn, help hair to grow. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

What Are Other Alternatives for Treating Erectile Dysfunction? 

Several natural remedies show promise in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These remedies include ginseng and maca (two herbs widely available in dietary supplement form). What's more, making certain lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and managing chronic stress) may help fight erectile dysfunction.

Additionally, some natural substances may help improve sexual function in women. For instance, research suggests that the use of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) may lead to a significant increase in libido and sexual satisfaction in women over the age of 70. However, it should be noted that DHEA may interfere with the production of male and female hormones, as well as alter liver function. Therefore, it's important to talk to your doctor if you're considering the use of DHEA supplements. 

If you're seeking a natural approach to enhancing fertility, acupuncture may be beneficial. In a research review published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2011, for instance, investigators found that undergoing acupuncture may boost fertility in women and improve the outcome of in vitro fertilization (possibly by improving ovulation). 

There's also some evidence that the use of antioxidant supplements among males with fertility problems may help improve sperm motility and concentration and, in turn, increase the couple's chances of conceiving.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend Butea superba as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using Butea superba, consult your physician prior to starting your supplement regimen.

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