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Biotech Medicine China

Researchers Found Perfect Contraceptives In Traditional Chinese Medicine (inverse.com) 144

hackingbear writes: Researchers at U.C. Berkeley found a birth control that was hormone-free, 100 percent natural, resulted in no side effects, didn't harm either eggs nor sperm, could be used in the long-term or short-term, and -- perhaps the best part of all -- could be used either before or after conception, from ancient Chinese folk medicine... "Because these two plant compounds block fertilization at very, very low concentrations -- about 10 times lower than levels of levonorgestrel in Plan B -- they could be a new generation of emergency contraceptive we nicknamed 'molecular condoms,'" team leader Polina Lishko.
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Researchers Found Perfect Contraceptives In Traditional Chinese Medicine

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2017 @02:38PM (#54502137)

    Used after conception for emergency contraception but works by preventing the sperm and egg meeting, that is contradictory.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @04:05PM (#54502467)

      The actual paper is paywalled, but the abstract says nothing about working "the morning after", so the journalist who wrote TFA may have just made that up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gravis Zero ( 934156 )

      Used after conception for emergency contraception but works by preventing the sperm and egg meeting, that is contradictory.

      It only seems contradictory because you don't know that fertilization of an egg can take up to four day. That is correct, after engaging in sex, females are not immediately impregnated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's doesn't seem contradictory to you because you don't know what conception means. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conception. It's a terrible summary. I think we can all agree on that.

  • Perfect Contraceptive

    Reading /. or Reddit? Living in your parents' basement?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      RTFA. It's a kind of powder you the girl must put on her mouth while giving a blowjob: guaranteed to be 100% effective against pregnancies if used consistently.
      The Chinese scientists also report positive initial results when this compound is applied to hands or rectum.

    • Reading /. or Reddit? Living in your parents' basement?

      Also Dungeons and Dragons. That's why the Catholic church dislikes it: it's also 100% effective.

      (with apologies to someone. I can't remember. SMBC?)

      • Apologies to us, you mean. On paper, the Pope doesn't want you having sex until married. Since a good wife wouldn't let her husband play D&D, it wouldn't matter two shits to the Church.
  • I read somewhere that ancient Egyptian women used crocodile dung as a contraceptive sponge.
    • And/or sour milk. Later vinegar.

    • I believe it was a half a lemon peel filled with crocodile shit as a diaphragm.

      That had to make for an...interesting smell.

      • I bet it worked well. If I was going to get intimate with a woman and she smelled of crocodile dung, or any animals dung for that matter, my interest would instantly drop to zero. Therefore no chance of a child.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @02:46PM (#54502171)
    From TFA:

    But there are two plant compounds that can prevent sperm from doing this, no matter how valiantly they may try — lupeol, found in mango and dandelion root, and pristimerin, from a plant called the “thunder god vine,”

    "Thunder God Vine" prevents pregnancy, but sounds like a great name for your penis.

    • Referring to your penis as "Thunder God Vine" may well help prevent pregnancy, at least among potential partners with self-respect.

  • it is now illegal to grow mango and dandelions as well as a plant called the “thunder god vine." Raids on houses with dandelion infestations are expected to commence forthwith; with inhabitants potentially facing "growing dandelions with intent to distribute" for larger infestations. Right to Life organizations hail the new laws as a great step in protecting future unborn Republicans.
    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @03:07PM (#54502269)

      What stage of grief is 'idiotic snark'?

      Get on with it.

      • What stage of grief is 'idiotic snark'?

        Get on with it.

        Probably the one Trump voters will start with when they realize the jobs aren't coming back, their benefits are being cut and they'll lose their health insurance all; but at least they've done their part to "Make America Great Again." One of my favorite lines was the Congressman from Alabama that argued against the ACA by asking why should healthy people pay for people who make poor lifestyle choices; while representing a state that is leading or near the top in obesity, lack of exercise and smoking. He nee

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I read the article. This works by preventing fertilisation of the egg. "Conception", if it is defined separately from fertilisation (often they are used as synonyms), is the implantation of a fertilised egg into the womb.

    So this can't be used as an emergency contraceptive as weirdly claimed, and the excerpt of the journal that is reported in the article didn't claim it can. Seems the article author just made it up, to get more clicks.

    • What matters is the result. I don't give a fuck why I don't get to pay alimony, as long as I don't get to pay.

    • Perhaps the author is thinking of conception as being the sexual act, and not actually the fertilization of the egg. It takes awhile, and sometimes longer than you might think, for fertilization to happen after intercourse. So it is conceivable that you could have sex, and then some time later take something to prevent fertilization from happening.

  • The article claims it can be used as contraception "after conception," which is an oxymoron for a start. There's detail in there about how it stops sperm swimming, but nothing about the mechanism behind it stopping fertilized eggs from implanting, which is (obliquely) claimed.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We now have two definitions of pregnancy:

      1) Conception. This is the point at which a new organism is created, which shares DNA with but is clearly distinct from both egg and sperm. This is also the traditional definition.

      2) Implanation. When the zygote implants into the uterine wall, it taps into the mother's body as life support and becomes viable.

      ACOG defines pregnancy as #2, therefore preventing implantation is contraception, not pregnancy termination. Every pro-life organization or thinker of which

  • by Artem Tashkinov ( 764309 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @03:21PM (#54502315)
    Birth control pills are often taken not because a woman wants to prevent an unplanned pregnancy but because such hormones help deal with acne [nih.gov].
    • That's the excuse girls use to convince their parents to let them use birth control.

      • I was told by a teen friend it helps regulate their cycle. No follow up questions asked.
        • Some women bleed like a stuck pig, or have exceptionally long or painful periods. Hormonal birth control basically takes over and gives them more statistically 'normal' symptoms. When you're dealing with those issues, the pregnancy prevention really is a side effect.

          On the other hand, some women take them without skipping a week in order to completely suppress their cycle. I'm not sure if there's any long term issues with that, but assuming there aren't I've never understood why any and every woman would

  • Someone swoop in there and patent it out from under the locals!

  • by pesho ( 843750 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @04:13PM (#54502503)

    This is another PR statement that inflates the actual findings so much that they become unrecognizable. For those interested in the details, the original article is here [pnas.org] (it is paywalled). The TL;DR version of the original article is as follows:

    1. 1. There is a protein (ABHD2) that controls sperm motility.
    2. 2. ABHD2 activated progesterone and is blocked by other steroid hormones.
    3. 3. After ovulation progesterone is released by the cumulus cells that surround the egg. This release of progesterone activates nearby sperm to move faster.
    4. 4. There is a class of compounds produced by plants that are called triterpenoids. Some of these compounds mimic steroid hormones.
    5. 5. By virtue of their ability to mimic steroid hormones two triterpenoids (pristimerin and lupeol) can bind to ABHD2 and block it in the same way steroid hormones do.

    These were the finding of the papers. Now look at the claims in the PR statement:

    1. 1. Traditional Chinese medicine. There is hardly a plant or organic matter that is not used for one purpose or other in traditional Chinese medicine (Traditional Chinese medicine is akin to internet porn - if something exists there is a traditional Chinese medicine made from it). Plants make insane diversity of chemical compounds. Anyone will be hard pressed to find a naturally occurring plant compound that does not exist in at least one plant used by traditional Chinese medicine. While this claim may technically be true, it is completely meaningless.
    2. 2. Contraceptive activity of the compounds. The compounds had marginal inhibitory effect (6-10%) on sperm motility when the sperm was activated with progesterone, and no effect on the motility of sperm not activated by progesterone. Will this prevent fertilization? The study did not report the results of experiments that will directly test the contraceptive effect of the compounds. This claims is obviously false.
    3. 3. The compounds are not hormonal. Technically speaking, they are not steroid hormones. In reality, they act as steroid hormones, otherwise they would not have been able to block ABHD2. This claims seems patently false to me.
    4. 4. "Perfect contraceptives". If you scan the research literature with the names of the compounds you will find that they exhibit all kinds of completely unrelated activities when applied to human cells. This means that one or more of the following are true; (i) these are "sticky" compounds that hit multiple targets; (ii) The compounds are not pure and is impossible to tell if what you observe is the activity of the compound or of the impurities (this happens very often when isolating compounds from plants); (iii) The compounds hit target that is important for many cell types in the body. Regardless of what the explanation is, these compounds are no "magic bullets". "Carpet bombing" seems to be more suitable analogy.
    • Well, if these things really worked, how come they made 1.33 billion kids?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        What an idiotic response to the only response to this story to seriously evaluate the claims being made in the article.

        Congratulations on standing head and shoulders above all the other thoughtless douches in your stupidity. You've earned it!

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      1. Traditional Chinese medicine. There is hardly a plant or organic matter that is not used for one purpose or other in traditional Chinese medicine (Traditional Chinese medicine is akin to internet porn - if something exists there is a traditional Chinese medicine made from it). Plants make insane diversity of chemical compounds. Anyone will be hard pressed to find a naturally occurring plant compound that does not exist in at least one plant used by traditional Chinese medicine. While this claim may techn

  • It is not a chemical made from some pharmacy R&D department so the FDA will label it as not proper for use.
    • No patent, no marketing. Yep, we won't see this except in some unregulated "all natural" formula at a health food store that is too dilute to work reliably.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Crocs

  • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Monday May 29, 2017 @12:04AM (#54503861) Journal

    So when I read "about 10 times lower than levels of levonorgestrel in Plan B"

    This comes off as crap designed to flog 'information' to the the ignorant public. But (and someone please correct me) this statement is meaningless. Any medication has an effective dosage, and method of function. Levonorgestrel and the chemicals mentioned in this article don't function in a similar manner. To compare the concentrations is meaningless, and leads people to believe in some false metric between them.

  • How many times have we heard this one? Oh, nevermind.
  • We only need look at the historical, empirical evidence of China's well-managed - nay, optimized - population to conclude just how perfect such traditional contraceptives are.
  • In the Materials and Methods part of the PNAS article (it didn't seem paywalled to me, but I use Umatrix so the paywall script may not have loaded) they make it clear that this test was all done by people performing tests on sperm samples obtained by masturbation and subsequently purified with the swim-up technique. They showed that adding the chemicals to the purified sperm prevented the calcium channel of the sperm from being activated by progesterone. They didn't show that there's some pill one could saf

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