Watch Out: The harmful effects of Efinrin, Ugwu and Moringa leaves

Yes, pumpkin and moringa leaves are edible! The younger leaves of pumpkin are best for eating. Otherwise known as fluted gourd, iroko, ugwu, and ikong-ubong, it has been used to moderate menstrual cramps, treat infertility, boost blood for anaemia patients, and improve digestion, thereby reducing the chances of health conditions like irritable bowel movements, constipation, and those caused by indigestion problems like ulcers.

Also, moringa leaf is used to tackle malnutrition, boost the immune system and enhance breast milk production in resource-limited settings. In northern Nigeria, its fresh leaves are a component of a local meal made up of powdered groundnut cake, chilli, sweeteners, and local roasted beef called โ€œsuyaโ€.
Granted, fluted pumpkin and moringa leaves have protective or disease-preventing potential, but these leafy vegetables, like others, contain considerable levels of anti-nutrients and toxic substances that have a negative effect on animal and human health at high concentrations.

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The high nutritional content of moringa leaves has also attracted much interest due to the levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium and adequately high protein quality, which contend with that of milk and eggs.

In a new study, researchers suggest that its regular use and in high amounts could be detrimental to fertility in both men and women. They indicated that both fluted pumpkin leaves and seeds have both pro-fertility and reversible anti-fertility effects in experimental animals. According to them, low doses of the extract of fluted pumpkin leaf and seeds in experimental animals over a period of time promoted testis regeneration, improved testosterone concentration and sperm quality. However, at higher doses, they had anti-fertility effects.

Extracts of fluted pumpkin leaf and seeds, including ethanol, aqueous, methanol and hydroethanolic, had protective effects on the testes of study animals at lower doses (less than 50 mg/kg body weight). But at doses greater than 200 mg/kg body weight, they inhibited hormone synthesis, sperm quality, and histomorphological structure under both normal and disease conditions.

In addition, the anti-fertility effects of fluted pumpkin seeds on the gonads were reversible in young, mature rats, and they also had slightly systemic toxic effects.

The study in the Journal of Integrated Medicine involved Rex-Clovis C. Njoku at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, and Sunny O. Abarikwu at the University of Port Harcourt, Choba. It was titled, โ€˜Antifertility and profertility effects of the leaves and seeds of fluted pumpkin: Sperm quality, hormonal effects, and histomorphological changes in the testes of experimental animal models.โ€™

Fluted pumpkin leaves have been used locally in the treatment of infertility issues in both men and women. Its content of many vital nutrients and compounds has proven effective in its use to boost or improve sperm count in men and the overall functioning of their testicles.

Also, it boosts fertility in women and improves postnatal health as it helps lactating mothers adequately feed their babies by increasing breast milk production.

Additionally, experts also warn that moringa leaf tea is not safe at conception or during pregnancy because it can be inimical to foetal development.

In a new study, researchers investigated the effect of the intake of low amounts of moringa leaves before conception attempts, as well as its effect during conception under laboratory conditions and found it can cause contraction of the womb with varying intensities.

According to the animal study, both the cold and hot moringa leaf extracts significantly produced contractions of the womb with varying intensities. It also indicated that it had anti-infertility properties.

For the study, the researchers assessed both the cold and hot moringa leaf extracts on samples of womb obtained from non-pregnant female animals, as well as female Wistar rats in the laboratory. The contractile force of the muscle strips from the womb of the non-pregnant female animals was measured. Also, pregnancy length, delayed labour, mortality and birth complications in the Wistar rats were monitored.

Cold moringa leaf extract administered before and after mating, respectively, produced 100 percent and 80 percent inhibition of conception, while 96.6 percent and 58 percent of the effect was comparatively produced by its hot extracts.

The 2019 study titled: โ€˜Aqueous extract of Moringa oleifera leaf used in Nigerian ethnomedicine alters conception and some pregnancy outcomes in Wistar ratsโ€™ was published in the South African Journal of Botany. It involved A.F. Attah, J.O. Moody, M.A. Sonibare, H.H. Salahdeen, O.O. Akindele, P.O. Nnamani, O.A. Diyaolu, and Yinusa Raji.

In the study, none of the extracts prevented the animals from mating, and this suggests that the animalsโ€™ cycles contained at least one estrus during the two weeks of mating, although this does not provide any information about the regularity of the cycle.

There are a large number of studies that support the anti-fertility effects of many medicinal foods, including some fruits like pawpaw. Pawpaw fruits can cause infertility and irregular estrous cycles.

Also, sweet basil (efirin in Yoruba), which is widely used in folk medicine for several conditions, can cause sperm count and motility to decrease. The percentage increase in abnormal sperm cells, sperm debris, and primordial cells is both dose- and time-dependent.

They suggested that in many medicinal plants, interference with the physiology and function of the reproductive system may have been triggered by an alteration in the synthesis of hormones, storage, liberation, transport, or excretion. The alteration in the smooth release of reproductive hormones, for instance, can culminate in the inhibition of conception or the contraction of the womb.

Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (

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