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Onions have androgenic effect, says 1967 animal study

Onions have androgenic effect, says 1967 animal study
The juice of the common-or-garden onion has a hormonal effect, claims an Egyptian researcher in an old animal study that we stumbled across accidentally not so long ago.

In some places, the researcher writes, the local population uses the onion to soothe the effects of diabetes and age-related complaints. He set up tests with rats to see whether onions have similar effects to those of hormones such as growth hormone, insulin and testosterone. And guess what they do.

Raw onion juice, when added to the feed of young rats, increased the rats' growth rate. Onion lowers blood sugar levels a little. And it also has a stimulating effect on the testes, in young and old animals.

Onions have androgenic effect, says 1967 animal study

The table above shows the results of the tests. The size of the testes and seminal vesicles increased by as much as 25 percent. The researcher did not look at whether that also led to an increase in the manufacture of testosterone.

He did however express his ideas about which substance in the onion is responsible for the effect. These ideas now seem dated, except for one. Onion contains amino acids that are precursors of the messenger hormones that regulate the testes, he thinks.

"Raw onion contains various peptides, one of which (gamma-glutamyl S-beta-carboxy beta-methyl ethyl-cysteinyl glycine) is related to glutathione, which is necessary for cellular metabolism, growth and sexual activity as pituitary growth and gonadotrophic activity depend to a great extent on the presence of proteins and amino acids."

Plant Foods for Human Nutrition Issue Volume 14, Number 3 / April, 1967.