A lot of plant-based homemade remedies have been successfully utilized for thousands of years. Some of them have mild effects, some might be more of an old wives’ tale placebo, and some actually get developed into scientifically proven drugs, fully embraced by the medical community. A new male birth control pill may fit into the latter group.
The gendarussa plant grows wild in the forests of Indonesia and it has long been used to treat the flu, skin diseases, anxiety and arthritis. A small ethnic group in a remote area of Papua, though, found another monumentally practical use for it, when they noticed that boiling the gendarussa in tea and drinking it a half hour before sex, they could actually prevent pregnancies.
The word spread, and a pharmaceutical researcher named Bambang Prajogo brought the plant to his laboratory at Airlangga University and started studying its effects, confirming that these local assumptions were well founded.
After years of studies, researchers from both the Airlangga University and the National Population and Family Planning Board, figured out that extracting the glycoside flavonoid contained in the gendarussa leaves gave them a chemical capable of disrupting three of the key enzymes in sperm, successfully weakening them and making them incapable of fertilizing the eggs.
Several small clinical tryouts have been done, the largest of them studying 350 men. The results confirmed to be over 99 percent effective so far — a similar number to most female contraceptives. However, larger clinical studies need to be done for it to be approved for public consumption by the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency.
Female birth control pills have proven very effective throughout decades, but they can also create a lot of hormonal changes that make it rather unpleasant for the ladies, something that would be fully avoided with this new pill.
The side effects are reportedly very low. A small percentage of guys experienced some weight gain, and some others an overcharged libido; but for the most part “researchers haven’t seen anything that remotely rivals the zits, nausea, sporadic bleeding and other effects many women endure on hormone-based birth control pills,” the Global Post reported.
While there’s been no shortage of major American pharmaceutical companies offering up to $5 billion in funding, Professor Bambang has rejected all offers, because they all wanted the patent for the pill and the University is determined to keep it.
The research team expects the pill to be commercially available by 2016, but have warned it might take a few years to be sold internationally. They currently don’t have plans for expanding to foreign markets, as it’s still in development, but considering its potential efficiency and the lack of uncomfortable side effects, chances are someone will step up with a big enough offer that will make it available to the Western world sooner rather than later.