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Bulbine Natalensis Benefits + Side Effects & Reviews

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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In the testosterone-boosting industry, various compounds get periodic attention from the media. Bulbine natalensis is one of them, rapidly capturing interest from bodybuilders as a supplement for supposedly increasing testosterone levels. But, did you know that it may also help in wound healing according to animal research? Keep reading to discover the health benefits, side effects, and reviews of Bulbine natalensis.

What Is Bulbine Natalensis?

Bulbine natalensis is a plant from the Asphodelaceae family, which is mainly found in Southern Africa. It is known by various names, including ibhucu, ingcelwane, and rooiwortel [1].

Its leaf sap is used as a traditional remedy for wounds, burns, and rashes. A root infusion is used to manage vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, sexual infections, diabetes, and rheumatism. However, none of these effects has been investigated [2].

Although Bulbine natalensis has been used in Africa for years, only recently has it become popular as a supplement in Western medicine.

Components

A watery stem extract from Bulbine natalensis contains the following compounds [3, 4]:

  • Tannins
  • Anthraquinones
  • Cardiac glycosides
  • Saponins
  • Alkaloids
  • Naphthalene derivative

How It Works

The precise mechanism of action of Bulbine natalensis in humans has not been established. However, according to studies in rats, it is thought to act via the following mechanisms [3, 1]:

  • Increases testosterone levels in the testes and blood
  • Increases the size of testes as a result of increased testosterone levels and in turn, the testes secrete more testosterone
  • Boosts the activity of a testicular enzyme (alkaline phosphatase), which is involved in maintaining healthy sperm
  • Raises levels of compounds in the testes, which are responsible for making testosterone (cholesterol), maturing and maintaining healthy sperm (glycogen, sialic acid, testicular proteins)
  • Boosts levels of reproductive hormones (follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormone), which stimulate cells (Leydig cells) to produce testosterone

Health Benefits of Bulbine Natalensis

Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of Bulbine natalensis for any conditions. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

1) Sexual Health

High testosterone levels improve libido, mood, and overall sexual health in humans [5].

A watery extract of Bulbine natalensis raised testosterone levels in the testes and blood in rats. It also increased sexual behavior and was more effective than Viagra at a dose of 25-50 mg/body weight. This suggests its potential to be used in the management of disorders of libido, premature ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction in men [1, 3, 6].

Bulbine natalensis extract enhanced the success of mating and fertility in rats as a result of the increased libido and increased reproductive hormones (testosterone, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone). However, it did not alter other parameters of sexual health, such as sperm motility, shape, viscosity, and count [7].

2) Wound Healing

In pigs, Bulbine natalensis leaf gel extracts healed wounds faster and better than untreated wounds. There was an increase in collagen, proteins, and DNA in the Bulbine natalensis-treated wounds, meaning that cells were dividing rapidly, resulting in a faster recovery [8].

Bulbine natalensis leaf gel extract enhanced the progress of wound healing in weaning pigs by forming new fibrous tissue, muscles, and connective tissues along with increasing collagen storage and maturation [9].

3) Fungal Infections

A class of naturally occurring chemicals (phytosterols) found in Bulbine natalensis blocked the growth of one of the most toxic fungi (Aspergillus flavus) [10].

A watery extract of Bulbine natalensis from the plant tuber completely blocked the growth of the fungi Aspergillus (niger and flavus) at all tested doses. Bulbine natalensis alcohol extract also had similar effects on the growth of these fungi [11].

Note, however, that these are very preliminary results that haven’t been replicated in humans and even in animals. Further research is needed to establish if Bulbine natalensis has any potential in treating the diseases caused by these fungi.

4) Bacterial Infections

Extracts of Bulbine natalensis in different types of alcohol blocked the growth of the following bacterial species [11]:

  • Staphylococcus aereus, a bacteria resistant to many antibiotics, which commonly causes skin and respiratory infections and food poisoning
  • Streptococcus faecalis, a frequent cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs), heart, and wound infections
  • Bacillus (cereus, pumilus), which may cause food poisoning
  • Escherichia coli, which causes UTIs, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria resistant to most antibiotics that can cause life-threatening drug-resistant infections
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae, which may cause respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Serratia marcescens, which causes difficult-to-treat hospital infections
  • Proteus vulgaris, which can cause UTIs
  • Enterobacter cloacae, which can cause many serious infections affecting the urinary tract, skin, lungs, and heart
  • Shigella flexneri, which causes food poisoning

The Bulbine natalensis extract in ethyl acetate was the most effective at blocking bacterial growth compared to other alcohol extracts [11].

Again, these studies only tested the ability of Bulbine natalensis to inhibit these bacterial species in test tubes but not to fight the infections caused by them.

Limitations and Caveats

There is only one human study examining the effects of Bulbine natalensis. Most studies were done on animals.

More scientific studies are required to know how and if Bulbine natalensis use impacts the body, short- and long-term safety, and if it interacts with other drugs/compounds in the body.

Side Effects & Safety

Keep in mind that the safety profile of Bulbine natalensis is practically unknown, given the lack of well-designed clinical studies. The list of side effects below is not a definite one and you should consult your doctor about other potential side effects based on your health condition and possible drug or supplement interactions.

In one study, 36 healthy men took a Bulbine natalensis supplement daily for 28 days. The supplement was safe as measured by blood, kidney, liver, and general markers of health (heart rate, blood pressure, ECG) [12].

In rats, a watery extract of Bulbine natalensis stem increased blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and decreased levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) [13].

In another study in rats, Bulbine natalensis stem extract increased liver enzymes (GGT, ALT, and AST) and the size of the liver (lobules) and kidney (proximal and convoluted tubules). These changes suggest liver and kidney damage from Bulbine natalensis use [14].

Bulbine Natalensis Supplements

Bulbine natalensis extracts are available in capsules, tablets, bulk powders, and liquid form. It’s sometimes combined with other testosterone boosters or added to protein powders.

Dosage

Because Bulbine natalensis is not approved by the FDA for any conditions, there is no official dose. Users and supplement manufacturers have established unofficial doses based on trial and error. Discuss with your doctor if Bulbine natalensis may be useful as a complementary strategy in your case and which dose you should take.

In the only human study with Bulbine natalensis, it was consumed at a dosage of 325 mg twice a day [12].

A dosage of 50 mg/kg was established as optimal in rat studies. This can be converted into an estimated 8 mg/kg for a 60 kg human according to the Body Surface Area Conversions standards laid down by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [15].

In other words, based on animal studies, Bulbine natalensis extract may be taken at an estimated dosage of:

  • 360 mg for a 100 lb. person
  • 550 mg for a 150 lb. person
  • 730 mg for a 200 lb. person

The Bulbine natalensis dose may be higher if the raw form of the plant is consumed without any extraction.

User Experiences

The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of Bulbine natalensis users, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfHacked. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfHacked. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

Many users reported an increase in libido, mental, and physical energy after Bulbine natalensis consumption. The testosterone-boosting effects took some time to be noticeable for some users.

A few users reported not feeling any effects after taking the supplement. However, some claim they noticed effects after doubling the dosage.

One user said that the supplement helped him sleep better but he also experienced heart palpitations, which subsided after stopping its consumption.

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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