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Contraception. 1994 Aug;50(2):185-90.

Synergistic spermicidal activity of neem seed extract, reetha saponins and quinine hydrochloride.

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National Institute of Immunology, JNU Complex, New Delhi, India.


In order to identify potent spermicidal agents which are free from the side effects of currently available agents, spermicidal activity of purified neem seeds extract (Praneem), reetha saponins and quinine hydrochloride was studied individually and in combination. Sander-Cramer test was used to assess the activity on human sperm. Under the test conditions, minimum effective spermicidal concentrations for Praneem, reetha saponins and quinine hydrochloride were 25%, 0.05% and 0.346%, respectively. At these concentrations, 100% of the sperm were immobilised within 20 seconds. A positive synergistic effect in the spermicidal activity of these components, if used in combination, was observed which implies the use of reduced concentrations of each to bring about the desired action. The selected combination formulated into a suitable dosage form is likely to offer dual benefit of a potent contraceptive and an antimicrobial preparation.


Contraceptive researchers in India and the United States used a modified version of the Sander-Cramer test to measure the minimum concentration of purified neem seeds extract, reetha saponins (pericarp of Sapindus fruits), and quinine hydrochloride to kill all sperm within 20 seconds. They wanted to determine the individual and combined action of these potential spermicidal agents on sperm motility and survival. The concentrations needed to effect the death of 100% of human sperm within 20 seconds were 25% for neem oil, 0.05% for reetha saponins, and 0.346% for quinine hydrochloride. A mixture of 25% neem extract, 1% reetha saponins, and 0.75% quinine hydrochloride was spermicidal up to a dilution of 72 times. This dilution was much higher (p = .0004) than the highest spermicidal dilution attained by reetha saponins, the most potent component of the mixture. The positive synergistic effect in the spermicidal activity of these components indicates reduced concentrations of each to achieve effective spermicidal activity (0.39% neem oil, 0.015% reetha saponins, and 0.0012% quinine hydrochloride). Reetha saponins contains considerable oleanolic acid or hederagenin, which have a mild detergent effect, inactivating sperm. Quinine chloride strengthens spermicidal activity and antimicrobial activity. Neem extract induces local cell-mediated immunity. Contraceptive developers can formulate the combination of these 3 components either as a cream or pessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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