The Pharmaceutical Properties, Microbial Quality, In-vivo Aphrodisiac Effect and Safety of Some Herbal Bitters Sold in Southwest Nigeria

  • D.N Dike
  • T.O Ajala
  • O.A Odeku
  • J.M Afolabi
  • A.A Oyagbemi
  • M.O Oyeyemi
Keywords: Herbal Bitters, Pharmaceutical and microbial quality, aphrodisiac properties, safety


Aphrodisiac drugs are used to enhance sexual activity and rectify erectile dysfunction especially among older men. In Nigeria, herbal medicinal products formulated as herbal drinks/bitters are prevalent and sold in various locations including motor parks, store and markets. Despite their wide use, the potency and safety of the herbal drinks have not been ascertained. Thus, pharmaceutical and aphrodisiac properties of five randomly selected herbal drinks with aphrodisiac claim have been evaluated. Pharmaceutical and microbial qualities were evaluated using standard procedures and the in vivo aphrodisiac activities were evaluated in male Wistar rats. The effects of chronic consumption of the bitters on the biochemical and tissue histology were assessed. The herbal bitters exhibited low viscosity (< 10 cP), high alcohol content (30 – 52 %), acidic pH (3.33 - 5.40), and low density (0.942-1.070 g/ml). The phytoconstituents include alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, cardenolides, tannins and anthraquinone. Microbial contaminations were with the limits for oral preparations. The bitters exhibited significant (p < 0.001) aphrodisiac effect but had no significant effect on fertility and hematological parameters. Chronic consumption of the herbal drinks at 250mg/kg following was hepatotoxic while two brands were cardiotoxic and nephrotoxic. There is therefore the need to monitor and control the quality and use of herbal bitters/drinks sold in the Nigerian market to safeguard public health


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1119-5096
print ISSN: 1119-5096