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Can Bamboo Seeds Increase Fertility?

A recent story in the Hindustan Times told the story of a couple in India who had spent a great deal of money and endured a variety of different fertility treatments to conceive a child with no success. That is, until a neighbor suggested that they eat the seeds of a bamboo plant to increase their fertility. After boiling and eating a couple of bamboo seed pods, the couple became pregnant the next month and welcomed a son into the world some months later.

Local lore has it that bamboo seeds must increase fertility due to the explosion in the rodent population after the bamboo plants flower. After observing this phenomenon for generations, people's skepticism has a tendency to be trumped by superstition and even the most preposterous ideas can gain traction and be accepted as truth.

Some Facts

Some species of bamboo only flower once every 47-50 years. Because they flower so infrequently and often die after flowering, they compensate by releasing huge amounts of flowers and seeds. This is one of many mechanisms that nature employs to ensure the success of a species.

Rats achieve sexual maturity 13 weeks after birth and the gestation period is only 20-22 days. This extraordinary fecundity is yet another of nature's survival mechanisms for the continuation of a species. Because rats are a food source for many other animals, they must have incredible reproductive rates to ensure survival. When food is scarce, rats eat their young which helps to control populations but when food is plentiful, like when bamboo flowers, the rats are genetically predisposed to take advantage of the situation.

Citizens of the Mizoram region of India regard the flowering of bamboo as the harbinger of famine. As rodent populations explode and exhaust the supplies of bamboo flowers and seeds as food, they inevitably turn to the crops that people plant such as potatoes and rice, which leads to starvation and hardship for the people.

The National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad has conducted tests but found nothing in the composition of the seed that could enhance the fertility of any living being. Rather, it is the extraordinary amount of carbohydrates and energy that is stored in the seeds that fosters the rodent population explosion. A hundred grams of bamboo seeds contains 60.36 gram of carbohydrate and 265.6 kg calorie of energy. Because flowering is such an infrequent event for bamboo, the plant packs its seeds with extra fuel.


After the Times story was published in June, editors looking for sensational copy to increase traffic to their sites posted this story on their own sites. This supposed correlation with bamboo seeds and increased fertility made great headlines but instead of providing scientific proof to support their position, these claims were based on superstition and supposition. Bamboo seeds are not the new Viagra. They may be an incredible food source but there is nothing in them that will increase libido and fertility except for the energy stored in the seeds themselves.

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