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flower juice of hibiscus sabdariffa, better known in Africa as bissap, would be an effective remedy to increase fertility in women. This is what a viral post on Facebook suggests. Bissap is a very popular drink in several African countries, particularly appreciated for its sweet taste. But the health specialists contacted by the AFP do not recognize any active ingredient that acts on fertility.
The post uploaded on February 20 by a Facebook group called “Get pregnant in 1 month“it had over 1,200 shares. The text is accompanied by three images, showing leaves and bissap juice, as well as a simplified drawing of the female genitals.”Woman, you have fertility problems and minor hormonal complications …“, He first challenges the internet user before proposing a remedy.
“Take the BISSAP leaves, prepare them, then strain to have a drinkable liquid. (…) If you do 5 days as a rule, drink during these 5 days morning and evening“, recommends this publication. The bissap goes away”completely clean the vagina and uterus. Whatever makes you sterile, these sheets thoroughly cleanse and activate good hormones“, It is stated.
Internet users commenting on the publication taken from several other accounts (1, 2, 3) seem interested in the miracles that dried sabdariffa hibiscus flowers can produce.
Hibiscus sabdariffa, from the Malvaceae family due to its botanical classification, is the scientific name of the bissap. Bissap is the popular name of this plant in Senegal and the Ivory Coast. It has many other names including Guinean sorrel, red hibiscus, or tea rose. We also find hibiscus sabdariffa under the common names of dabléni in Mali, karkadé or empire tea in Egypt, gooseberry in Martinique or Guadeloupe. Bissap is generally consumed in the form of juices, infusions or herbal teas.
However, the enthusiasm of Internet users for this publication on Facebook does not in any way guarantee a scientific basis.
“No hormonal action”
On several websites dedicated to wellness and dietetics, bissap is presented as an ingredient for cosmetic products, an antioxidant or even a drink supplement that facilitates digestion. “LBissap has digestive properties, it is also rich in vitamin C and has diuretic properties“, Indicates Abdoulaye Diop, gynecologist-obstetrician and general secretary of the Senegalese Association of Gynecology-Obstetrics.
On the other hand, the bissap “has no hormonal action or action on fertility known from a medical point of view to date: bissap does not cleanse the uterus or vagina in any way“Explains this doctor.
This grandmother’s recipe based on bissap to increase fertility in women has no scientific basis, adds Moïse Amuah, gynecologist-obstetrician of the Femina cabinet in Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
“The bissap flower is not a known remedy in modern medicine and I believe rather that the red color of this juice has created this remedy myth in the popular imagination.“Says Dr. Amuah.
The alleged action of bissap on fertility has not been the subject of serious scientific studies, he continues. “Bissap is not a hormone regulator, no known studies to date have shown this“, Explains the doctor.
“VSThis Facebook post attributing gynecological and fertility benefits to bissap is rather strange and even dangerous“Stéphane Besançon, Director General of the NGO Santé Diabète in Mali told AFP.”I don’t think bissap juice can (…) activate good hormones and make a woman fertile“.
Stéphane Besançon, on the other hand, recently quoted in a chronic on Radio France Internationale (RFI), in the journal Priorité Santé, of the possible positive effects of bissap on moderate hypertension based on a study conducted in 2009 from Boston University.
Red clover and raspberry
It is not only in Africa that “miracle cures” to promote fertility they give rise to viral publications. Also in France many articles and blogs shared on social networks boast plants that “increase fertility“, from the “natural plants and herbal teas to get pregnant“: they enhance the alleged virtues of red clover, raspberry or nettle.
In an AFP review article, doctors explain that these allegations have no scientific basis. These professionals also warn: Trusting these fake remedies can delay medical treatment in case of infertility.
“No scientific studies have shown a positive effect of plants on fertility”, Joëlle Belaïsch-Allart, gynecologist, president of the French National College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF), explains to AFP.
“I don’t know of any scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of naturopathy”on her part indicates to the AFP the gynecologist Marie de Crécy, member of the National Federation of Colleges of Medical Gynecology (FNCGM), also questioned on the virtues attributed to plants in terms of fertility.
“Yup [les femmes] wanna do it [consommer des plantes]they can do it but they don’t have to wait for it to increase “ whatever, adds the doctor.
“Plants that would increase fertility, frankly, I don’t see”, Catherine Bennetau-Pelissero, head of the course “Plants with value for health and biomolecules of interest”, master in agroscience biology (University of Bordeaux), also told AFP.
Infertility, a public health problem
Infertility is defined by WHO as “a condition of the male or female reproductive system defined by the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse.” “It is estimated that between 48 million couples and 186 million people are affected by infertility worldwide”, details the World Health Organization in a page of its website dated 2020.
Infertility, on the other hand, designates the total impossibility of conceiving a child naturally, when the chances of getting pregnant are nil.
“In men, infertility is more often caused by problems in the excretion of semen, absence or low levels of sperm or abnormalities in the shape and movement of the sperm.” while “in women, infertility can be due to a whole range of abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes and endocrine system, among others”, details the WHO.
The French Ministry of Health has ordered a relationship on this public health issue, published in February 2022: “Report on the causes of infertility – Towards a national strategy for infertility”.
In particular, the report notes that “The frequency of male and female infertility has continued to increase in a particularly worrying way, especially in the last twenty years” but nevertheless, “infertility remains a somewhat debated topic”, “still too often relegated to the background, to a simple ‘story of a good wife'”
According to reporters, “It is possible to estimate that among the 24 million adults aged between 20 and 49 in France, 3.3 million women and men have encountered infertility problems in their relationship which required medical assistance.”
According to Inserm“in three quarters of cases the infertility is of male or female origin, or it is associated with both sexes. In 10-25% it is not attributable to a specific defect of one of the two partners”.
The increase in infertility problems is linked to a “decrease in childbearing age”to “environmental factors” from the “medical reasons”, the three factors can be combined.
Infertility management often involves hormone treatments via tablets or injections of precisely studied and medically dosed products. Surgical treatments may also intervene, as well as insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF).