Ginger has been shown to have a positive effect on the weight of the male reproductive organs, and to possess antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticholestereolemic, anticancerous, antiemetic, anti-rhinoviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-insecticidal properties. As a result, dietary patterns in Africa especially Ghana are characterized by a high consumption of ginger. However there is very little information on the effects of ginger on the morphology of the male reproductive system. Therefore the present study was designed to investigate the effects of ginger on the structure of the testes, epididymis and semen parameters of the male rat using quantitative and qualitative methods. Forty-eight male wistar rats were divided into four groups designated as control, A, B and C and administered daily by gavage with 1 ml distilled water, 100 mg/kg, 300 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg of ethanolic ginger extract respectively for 30 days. Results of the present study show that there was an increase in body weight, testicular and epididymal weight in the extract-treated rats in a dose dependent manner which was not statistically significant. Both the control and extract-treated male rats showed normal morphology of the testes. However, in the extract-treated animals, there was a considerable increase in the proportion of interstitial tissues and seminiferous tubules. There was a strong positive correlation between volume fraction of the seminiferous tubules and sperm count. In addition, there was a strong positive correlation between sperm count, body weight, epididymal and testicular weight in the extract-treated animals. Ethanolic ginger extract caused a significant (p = 0.001) increase in sperm count, motility, viability and morphology. Therefore, ginger extract may be potentially useful in the management of male infertility especially those with low sperm count.

For centuries humans have been dependant on plants for all their basic needs in terms of shelter, clothing, food and medicine (Gurib-Fakim, 2006). Plants play a vital role in health due to their active biological components (Devasagayam et al., 2004). Several plant species have been reported of having medicinal and nutritive importance for prevention and treatment of diseases (Srivastava et al., 1996). Preparations from medicinal plants are useful as antibiotics, antioxidant and anticancer agents (Farnsworth and Soejarto, 1991). Most of these medicinal plants come from the developing countries. Available evidence suggests that thirty per cent of all modern drugs are produced from plants (Burns, 2000).

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 80% of most Asian and African countries use herbal medicine for primary health care (McKay and Blumberg, 2007; WHO, 1999). Patient and/or consumer satisfaction of the effectiveness and inexpensiveness of herbal preparations has caused increasing demand for herbal medicines (Ebadi, 2006). Biological compounds derived from plants as well as those produced by chemists have been used as drugs in humans and veterinary medicine for a long time (Farnsworth, 2008). The application of plants as herbal medicines was first reported and documented in ancient China and India in the year 600 B.C. (Detlef et al., 1999).

Inappropriate preparation and use of herbal medicines with potent pharmacological properties may lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening (Ernst, 2007). Although many consumers believe that herbal medicines are safe because they are "natural" products, herbal medicines and synthetic drugs may cause some toxic response in the patient (Srivastava et al., 1996; Desai et al., 2009). Natural products and their derivatives represent more than 50% of all the drugs for clinical use in the world (Gurib-Fakim, 2006). Higher plants contribute approximately 25% of the total medicinal plants (Gurib-Fakim, 2006). In addition, recent studies have shown that certain herbal preparations can be toxic at different doses (Chan, 2003). It has been hypothesized that all substances are poisonous in nature, but the dosage lowers the toxicity of the poison (Hann and Keserü, 2012). Vickers (2007) suggested that proper clinical trials are required to determine the safety and efficacy of each plant before it can be used. Most adults use plant preparations as dietary supplement and herbal medications without recommendation from a general medical practitioner and/or knowledge of the usefulness of these herbal medicines to their health (Cohen et al., 2002).

Herbal preparations may contain potent biochemical properties, hence its side effects should be considered (Ernst, 2007). Besides, most of the traditional medicines taken as treatment require scientific data validating their possible effects and responses (Engdal et al., 2009). Herbal medicine is extensively used in Africa regardless of the limited information available on their safety and efficacy (Johnson et al., 2007). Also, some of the available evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of these herbal preparations might be deceptive (Ernst and Schmidt, 2002).

More than 60% of certified plants in the new drug application (NDA) of natural preparations contain biological factors such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (Demain, 1999; Srivastava et al., 1996). The herbal medicines may be in the form of powder, liquid, ointment and liniment (Onyeagba et al., 2004). It has been documented that medicinal plants like Zingiber officinale (ginger), Allium sativum (garlic), Xylopia aethiopica (black pepper), Alchornea cordifolia (Christmas bush), Strophanthus hispidus (Arrow poison), Terminalia ivorensis (Ivory Coast almond), and Sphenocentrum jollyanum Pierre (moonseed family) are used in the management of male infertility, boosting sperm quantity and quality production (Burns, 2000). Infertility is a major health issue worldwide and has been estimated that 30% of infertility cases may be due to a male factor (Isidori et al., 2006). There is increasing evidence to suggest that sperm counts have declined over the last 50 years resulting in a consistent increase in male infertility (Carlsen et al., 1992). Many factors such as drug and toxicants, nutritional imbalance, and life style may cause infertility. Reduction of sperm quality and counts are as a result of interference in the process of spermatogenesis due to factors such as toxins, drug treatment, radiations and chemotherapy (Amann and Berndtson, 1986).

Several studies have documented the effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on spermatogenesis. ROS has been shown to be responsible for boosting sperm parameters and activation, however higher levels of ROS can destroy sperm morphology, reduce motility and damage its DNA (Agarwal and Said, 2005; Ford, 2004). Studies have also indicated that more than 40% of men with infertility have increased levels of ROS in their seminal fluid (Zini et al., 1993). Hence, research on the male reproductive system has concentrated on antioxidant compounds in an attempt to prevent impairment of sperm viability, motility and morphology thereby increasing significantly their fertilizing ability.

The use of plants and herbs as medicines and boosters of sperm production has increased significantly over the last few years (Rates, 2001). Plant-based traditional medicines are still of vast significance to people living in the developed and developing countries to prevent and cure diseases (Dattner, 2003; Ternes, 1998). Studies have indicated that about 80% of Africans depend on herbal healthcare medication and conventional plants for their routine health management (Abebe and Hagos, 1991; Johnson et al., 2007; Sharma et al., 2007). This is because herbal medicine offers the advantages of easy accessibility, availability and affordability as compared to the conventional drugs. One of the medicinal plants commonly used for herbal preparations in Africa is ginger. Ginger (Zingiber officiale) is widely consumed in Ghana as ginger tea and also as spices in food and drinks.

Ginger has been demonstrated to have beneficial therapeutic effect in the treatment and management of several diseases such as male infertility, cancer, ulcer, common cold, headaches, flu-like symptoms, rheumatism, menstrual pains, toothache, osteoarthritis, orchiditis, bronchitis and diarrhoea (Saad, 2015). Ginger is known to have antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticholesteremic, anticancerous, antiemetic, anti-rhinoviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-insecticidal properties (Karangiya et al., 2016). The active components in ginger has been reported to significantly increase muscular activity of the gastrointestinal tract resulting in the stimulation of digestion, absorption, relieving constipation and flatulence (Banerjee et al., 2011). It improves blood circulation through the body, increasing cellular metabolic activity and relieving cramps (Banerjee et al., 2011). In addition, ginger supplements are recognized for their strong stimulating effect on the immune and digestive systems, production of saliva and also act as an aphrodisiac (Bhowmik et al., 2010).

Dietary pattern in Ghana are mostly characterised by high amount of fat and carbohydrates which are known to expose people to numerous disease such as hypertension and atherosclerosis (Vicker, 2016). Ginger and other natural preparations for dietary therapy have been shown to reduce high cholesterol level and heart related diseases (Craig, 1999).

Several studies have also speculated that ethanolic ginger extract can increase testicular weight and also influence the growth and function of the accessory reproductive organs (Ansari et al., 2006). In addition, other investigators have reported that ginger causes an increase in sperm count, sperm motility and have an excitatory response on the level of testosterone (Lee et al., 2001; Park et al., 2007; Arash et al., 2009). Furthermore, ginger has been shown to affect spermatogenic activity in the male rat however, there is very little information on the effect of ginger on the structural organisation of the testes and other male reproductive organs.

Based on the broad usage of ginger in the local dishes, beverages and herbal preparations in Ghana, the present study was designed to investigate the possible effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on the structure of the reproductive system of male rats (Rattus norvegicus).


1.3.1 AIM 
To investigate the effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on the structure of the testes, epididymis and semen parameters of the male rat using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Specific objectives include: 
To determine the body weight, testicular and epididymal weights of male rats after administering ethanolic ginger extract.

To determine possible structural changes in the testes of the male rats after administering ethanolic ginger extracts using qualitative and quantitative methods.

To determine the relationship between the volume fraction of seminiferous tubule, testicular weight, epididymal weight, body weight and sperm count in the male rats.

To determine the effects of ethanolic ginger extracts on the sperm morphology, motility, viability and sperm count in the male rats.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 90 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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