Muira Puama is traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, tonic, neurasthenic, antidepressant and a CNS tonicMUIRA PUAMA

Family: Olacaceae

Genus: Ptychopetalum

Species: olacoides

Synonyms: None

Common Names: Muira puama, potency wood, marapuama, marapama, muiratã, muiratam, pau-homen, potenzholz

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=118]

Part Used: Bark and root

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • increase libido
  • is a male tonic
Root, bark
  • promotes sexual function
  • relieves pain
Tincture: 2-4 ml twice daily
  • calms nerves
  • reduces fatigue
Decoction: 1 cup daily
  • relieves depression
  • lowers blood pressure
  • enhances memory
  • prevents ulcers
  • protects brain cells

Muira puama, also called “potency wood,” is a small tree that grows to 5 m high and is native to the Brazilian Amazon and other parts of the Amazon rainforest. The small, white flowers have a pungent fragrance similar to jasmine’s. The Ptychopetalum genus is a small one – only two species of small trees grow in tropical South America and five in tropical Africa. The two South American varieties, P. olacoides (found in Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname) and P. uncinatum (found only in Brazil), are used interchangeably in South American herbal medicine systems. The olacoides variety is usually preferred, as it has a higher content of lupeol (one of the plant’s active phytochemicals). A completely different species of Brazilian tree, Liriosma ovata, also goes by the common name of muira puama (and is often sold in commerce as such); however, it is a completely different tree with a different phytochemical makeup.


Historically, all parts of muira puama have been used medicinally, but the bark and roots are the most-utilized parts of the plant. It has long been used in the Amazon by indigenous peoples for a number of purposes. Native peoples along the Brazilian Amazon’s Rio Negro river use the stems and roots from young plants as a tonic to treat neuromuscular problems; a root decoction is used in baths and massages for treating paralysis and beri-beri; and a root-and-bark tea is taken to treat sexual debility, rheumatism, grippe, and cardiac and gastrointestinal weakness. It’s also valued there as a preventive for baldness. In Brazilian herbal medicine, muira puama still is a highly-regarded sexual stimulant with a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. It has been in the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia since the 1950s. It is used as a neuromuscular tonic for weakness and paralysis, dyspepsia, menstrual disturbances, chronic rheumatism (applied topically), sexual impotency, grippe, and central nervous system disorders.

Muira puama is employed around the world today in herbal medicine. Early European explorers noted the indigenous uses and the aphrodisiac qualities of muira puama and brought it back to Europe, where it has become part of herbal medicine in England. It is still listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (a noted herbal medicine source from the British Herbal Medicine Association); it is recommended there for the treatment of dysentery and impotence. It is also used in Europe to treat impotence, infertility, nerve pain, menstrual disturbances, and dysentery. In Germany, muira puama is employed as a central nervous system tonic, for hookworms, menstrual disturbances, and rheumatism. Muira puama has been gaining in popularity in the United States, where herbalists and health care practitioners are using it for impotence, depression, menstrual cramps and PMS, nerve pain, and central nervous system disorders.


Scientists began searching for the source of muira puama’s efficacy in the 1920s. Early researchers discovered that the root and bark were rich in fatty acids and fatty acid esters (the main one being behenic acid), essential oils (including beta-caryophyllene and alpha-humulene), plant sterols, triterpenes (including lupeol), and a new alkaloid-which they named muirapuamine. Scientists resumed researching the plant’s constituents and pharmacological properties in the late 1960s and continued into the late 1980s. These studies indicated that the active constituents also included free long-chain fatty acids, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, and novel alkaloids.

The main plant chemicals found in muira puama include: alpha-copaene, alpha-elemene, alpha-guaiene, alpha-humulene, alpha-muurolene, alpha-pinene, alpha-resinic acid, alpha-terpinene, arachidic acid, allo-aromadendren, behenic acid, beta-bisabolene, beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, beta-resinic acid, beta-sitosterol, beta-transfarnesene, borneol, campesterols, camphene, camphor, car-3-ene, caryophyllene, cerotic acid, chromium, coumarin, cubebene, delta-cadinene, dotriacontanoic acid, elixene, ergosterols, eugenol, essential oils, gamma-muurolene, hentriacontanoic acid, heptacosanoic acid, lignoceric acid, limonene, linalool, lupeol, melissic acid, montanic acid, muirapuamine, myrcene, nonacosanoic acid, para-cymene, pentacosanoic acid, phlobaphene, stigmasterols, trichosanic acid, and uncosanic acid.


In one of the early studies, researchers indicated that muira puama was effective in treating disorders of the nervous system and sexual impotence, and that “permanent effect is produced in locomotor ataxia, neuralgias of long standing, chronic rheumatism, and partial paralysis.” In 1930, Meiro Penna wrote about muira puama in his book Notas Sobre Plantas Brasilerias. He cited physiological and therapeutic experiments conducted in France by Dr. Rebourgeon that confirmed the efficacy of the plant for “gastrointestinal and circulatory asthenia and impotency of the genital organs.”

The benefits of treating impotence with muira puama have been studied in two human trials in France, which reported that muira puama was effective in improving libido and treating erectile dysfunction. In one French study among 262 male patients who experienced lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection, 62% of the patients with loss of libido reported that the extract of muira puama “had a dynamic effect,” and 51% of patients with erectile dysfunction felt that muira puama was beneficial. The second study evaluated positive psychological benefits of muira puama in 100 men with male sexual weakness. The therapeutic dosage was 1.5 g of a muira puama extract daily. In their final report, researchers indicated muira puama could “enhance libido [in 85% of test group], increase the frequency of intercourse [in 100%] and improve the ability to maintain an erection [in 90%].”

In other recent clinical research, muira puama extracts have been reported to have adaptogenic, antifatigue, antistress, and beneficial effects on the central nervous system. A specially-prepared extract from the root of muira puama has been patented for its ability to “relieve physical and mental fatigue” and for “ameliorating a weakened constitution.” Researchers in Brazil documented a definite central nervous system effect of the bark in studies with mice. The bark of muira puama also has demonstrated a mild, short-lived, hypotensive effect. The root was found to inhibit stress-induced ulcers, while the leaf demonstrated an analgesic effect. Another U.S. patent has been filed on muira puama, citing that it can “reduce body fat percentage, increase lean muscle mass and lower cholesterol” in humans and animals with long-term use (and with no toxicity noted). The newest research confirms muira puama’s traditional use for memory and nervous disorders. Brazilian researchers reported in 2003 that an alcohol extract of muira puama facilitated memory retrieval in both young and aged mice and noted it may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients. Their next study published in 2004 reported that an alcohol extract of muira puama protected and increased the viability of brain cells in mice (partly through an antioxidant effect) which may be beneficial for stroke victims. Toxicity studies with mice published in 1983 indicates no toxic effects.


While so-called aphrodisiacs have come and gone in history, muira puama has retained its stature and may well provide one of the more effective natural therapeutic approaches for erectile function and libido enhancement. Before trying to self-treat, however, men should always seek the advice of a health practitioner if suffering from erectile dysfunction or impotency; this often can be an early warning sign of vascular insufficiency and/or underlying heart problems.

To achieve the libido and potency effects of this particular plant, proper preparation methods must be employed. The active constituents thought to be responsible for muira puama’s potency and libido effect are not soluble in water – taking bark or root powder in capsules or tablets will not be effective because these chemical cannot be digested or absorbed. High heat for at least 20 minutes with alcohol is necessary to free the volatile and essential oils, terpenes, gums, and resins found in the bark and root which have been linked to muira puama’s beneficial effects.

Main Preparation Method: tinctureMain Actions (in order):
aphrodisiac, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions), neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain), antidepressant, central nervous system tonic (tones, balances, strengthens the central nervous system) Main Uses: 

  1. for erectile dysfunction and impotency
  2. as a male aphrodisiac and libido promoter
  3. as a tonic (tones, balances, strengthens) for males
  4. for hair loss and balding.
  5. central nervous system tonic (tones, balances, strengthens) and antidepressant

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
adaptogen, analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-fatigue, anti-oxidant, antiulcerous, aphrodisiac, central nervous system tonic (tones, balances, strengthens), hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), memory-enhancer, nervine (balances/calms nerves), neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain), neuroprotective (protects brain cells)Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
antidepressant, anti-rheumatic, anti-stress, astringent, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), digestive stimulant, gastrototonic (tones, balances, strengthens the gastric tract), hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol), stimulant, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions)

Cautions: none







Traditional Preparation: Since many of the most active principals are not water soluble it is best to prepared this plant as a tincture, using 2-4 ml of a 4:1 tincture twice daily. Boiling the tincture for 20 minutes will help facilitate extraction of the non-water-soluble chemicals. For its tonic effect, one of the traditional remedies is to gently simmer 1 teaspoon of root and/or bark in one cup of water for 15 minutes and take 1/2 to 1 cup daily.

Contraindications: None reported.

Drug Interactions: None reported.

Amazonia as an aphrodisiac and for baldness, beri-beri, cardiac weakness, central nervous system problems, diarrhea, flu, gastrointestinal problems, impotence, low libido, neuromuscular problems, paralysis, rheumatism, sexual debility, weakness
Brazil as an aphrodisiac and appetite stimulant, and for ataxia, baldness, beri-beri, central nervous system disorders, debility, depression, digestive problems, dysentery, dyspepsia, frigidity, gastrointestinal disorders, heart problems, hookworm, impotence, low libido, menstrual cramps, menopause, neuralgia, nerve problems, neuromuscular problems, nervous exhaustion, ovarian function, paralysis, PMS, poliomyelitis, rheumatism, stress, trauma, weakness (muscle)
Germany as a central nervous system tonic, and for hookworms, menstrual disturbances, rheumatism
Guiana as an aphrodisiac, stimulant and tonic, and for impotency
Europe as an aphrodisiac and nerve tonic, and for dysentery, impotence, infertility, menstrual disturbances, neurasthenia
United States as an aphrodisiac and tonic, and for depression, central nervous system disorders, impotence, menstrual problems, nerve pain, PMS
Elsewhere as an aphrodisiac and central nervous system stimulant, and for baldness, dyspepsia, exhaustion, gastrointestinal weakness, impotency, infertility, low libido, menstrual irregularities, muscle paralysis, nerve pain, neuromuscular problems, paralysis, reproductive disorders, rheumatism, stress, trauma


The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005

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Referenced Quotes on Muira Puama

2. “Marapuama has been used in tonifying the nervous system and for cases of mild exhaustion. It helps with gastrointestinal and reproductive disorders. It has antirheumatic properties and can be used for treating stress and trauma. Because of neurosexual stimulation it can enhance the libido. It can enhance blood chi and balance yin and yang in the triple warmer. It has been considered to be useful in prevention of some types of baldness. It is also used for neuromuscular problems.”

8. “Brazilian uses and Folklore: Marapuama has long been valued as an aphrodisiac and tonic for the nervous system. M. Penna, in his book “Notas Sobre Plantas Brasileiras” (Araujo Penna &, Cia., Rio de Janeiro, 1930) states that Marapuama is a “Neurosthenetic, aphrodisiac… and anti-rheumatic. It is recommended on a basis of confirmed experience, in the treatment of disorders of the nervous system …. Through the latest physiological and therapeutic experiments done in Paris by Dr. Rebourgeon, the efficiency of this plant has been confirmed… giving good results in gastrointestinal and circulatory asthenia and in impotency of the genital organs.” (p. 258). G. L. Cruz concurs, indicating the use of Marapuama for problems of the nervous system and sexual impotency.* When treating the symptoms of sexual impotence or lack of desire, Brazilian men usually mix teas made from Marapuama and Catuaba. Uses: Used in disturbances of the genital organs, in cases of impotency; also an aphrodisiac. Influential in treating symptoms of nervous problems and disorders (neurasthenia, neuralgia). Anti-rheumatic, fortifies the stomach and intestines.

* Livro verde . 607″

11. “The primary Amazon herbs used for their synergistic effects during athletic training and recovery include the following: Catuaba and Marapuama as strong tonics and nervous system fortifiers; Marapuama also for its anti-rheumatic properties;

Three herbs from the Amazon act as aphrodisiacs and have traditionally been used for impotence: Marapuama, Catuaba, and Cajueiro. A recent study at the Institute of Sexology in Paris, France, found that Marapuama was more effective than Yohimbine (pharmaceutical extract from the plant Yohimbe) fore erectile dysfunctions. Sam tried Marapuama, and Mary Ellen reported great results.

Amazon herbs traditionally used as nervous system tonics or fortifiers include Catuaba, Lemon Balm, Passion Flower, Marapuama, Mulungu, Star Anise, Suma, and Una de gato. Marapuama is a good tonic for the nervous system and useful in treating symptoms of neuralgia or nervous depression.

Other herbs from the Amazon which help establish balance during the menstrual cycle or during menopause include Abuta, Maracuja, Marapuama, Star anise and Una de gato. According to Brazilians, Marapuama is used frequently for menstrual cramps, premenstral syndrome and frigidity. It is also a tonic for the nervous system and helps alleviate symptoms of depression.”

Discovery Channel Health Article by Chris Kilham

Science on these plants is still modest, but reports in scientific journals and at conferences have supported their use for sexual enhancement. In catuaba, a group of three alkaloids dubbed catuabine A, B and C are believed to enhance sexual function by stimulating the nervous system. In muirapuama, chemists have identified a group of sterols including beta-sitosterol, thought to be responsible for the herb’s aphrodisiac effects. In one study using muirapuama, 51 percent of men with erectile problems reported improvement, and 62 percent experienced an increase in libido.

After our time in Manaus, Bernie and I boated down the Amazon river where we stayed with Ipixuna and Crinicoru indians in floating shacks on the water. While there we ventured into the rain forest with native guides who showed us catuaba and muirapuama trees growing in different places. We also witnessed the harvesting of catuaba bark and its subsequent sale to a local buyer. We learned that most natives use these plants by placing a small handful of their combined barks in a glass of room-temperature water, let the herbs sit overnight, and drink the resulting amber infusion in the morning.

The Shamans

To confirm what we had read about catuaba and muirapuama, and what Antonio Matas had imparted, Bernie and I set off to interview a couple of elderly women shamans, both of whom were experts in the preparation and use of Amazon medicinal plants. Each woman told us that the sexual restorative virtues of catuaba and muirapuama were significant. One 89-year-old shaman named Therese echoed Antonio’s words when she told us, “Catuaba and muirapuama together can make people sexually young again.”Throughout history, people have sought to increase libido and improve sexual function through the use of reputed aphrodisiac plants. Catuaba and muirapuama, two common trees growing widely across the Amazon river basin, enjoy centuries of safe, effective use as bona fide aphrodisiacs. ”

Third-Party Published Research on Muira Puama

Available third-party documentation and research on muira puama be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the third-party published research on muira pauma is shown below: Actions on Erectile Function and Libido:

Rowland, D. L., et al. “A review of plant-derived and herbal approaches to the treatment of sexual dysfunctions.” J. Sex. Marital Ther. 2003 May-Jun; 29(3): 185-205.

Waynberg, J., et al. ”Effects of Herbal vX on libido and sexual activity in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.” Adv. Ther. 2000 Sep-Oct; 17(5): 255-62.

Waynberg, J. “Male sexual asthenia—interest in a traditional plant-derived medication.” Ethnopharmacology; 1995.

Waynberg, J. “Contributions to the clinical validation of the traditional use of Ptychopetalum guyanna.” Presented at the First International Congress on Ethnopharmacology, Strasbourg, France, June 5-9, 1990.

Gaebler, H. “Revival of the drug Muira puama.” Deut. Apoth. 1979; 22(3): 94–6.

Hypotensive Actions:

Raymond-Hamet, A. “Physiological action of the extract of muira puama.” Comp. Rend. Soc. Biol. 1932; 109: 1064-7

Olofsson, Eric. “Action of extract of Liriosma ovata on the blood pressure, vessels and respiration of the rabbit.” Compt. Rend. Soc. Biol. 1927; 97: 1639-40.

Anti-fatigue, Tonic, & Adaptogenic Actions:

Mendes, F. R., et al. “Brazilian plants as possible adaptogens: An ethnopharmacological survey of books edited in Brazil.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Feb; 109(3): 493-500.

Bucci, L. R., et al. ”Selected herbals and human exercise performance.” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000 Aug; 72(2 Suppl): 624S-36S.

Paiva, L., et al. “Effects of Ptychocepalum olacoides extract on mouse behaviour in forced swimming and open field tests.” Phytother. Res. 1998; 12(4): 294–96.

Waynberg, J. “Male sexual asthenia—interest in a traditional plant-derived medication.” Ethnopharmacology; 1995.

Hanawa, M., et al. “Composition containing an extract from muira puama root and plant worm extract.” Taisho Pharmacuetical Co., Ltd., Tokyo, United States Patent No. 6024984, 2000.

Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Psychopharamcological properties of Ptychopetalum olachoides Bentham (Olacaceae).” Pharmaceutical Biol. 1998; 36(5): 327–34.

Anti-Anxiety & Nervine Actions:

da Silva, A. L., et al. “Anxiogenic properties of Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth. (Marapuama).” Phytother. Res. 2002; 16(3): 223-6.

Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Psychopharamcological properties of Ptychopetalum olachoides Bentham (Olacaceae).” Pharmaceutical Biol. 1998; 36(5): 327–34.

Memory Enhancement & Neuroprotective Actions:

da Silva, A. L., et al. “Promnesic effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides in aversive and non-aversive learning paradigms.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Feb; 109(3): 449-457.

da Silva, A. L., et al. “Memory retrieval improvement by Ptychopetalum olacoides in young and aging mice.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec; 95(2-3): 199-203.

Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Neuroprotective effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Olacaceae) on oxygen and glucose deprivation induced damage in rat hippocampal slices.” Life Sci. 2004 Aug; 75(15): 1897-906.

Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian “nerve tonic,” possesses anticholinesterase activity.” Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 2003 Jun; 75(3): 645-50.

Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Psychopharamcological properties of Ptychopetalum olachoides Bentham (Olacaceae).” Pharmaceutical Biol. 1998; 36(5): 327–34.

Forgacs, P., et al. “Phytochemical and biological activity studies on 18 plants from French Guyana.” Plant Med. Phytother. 1983; 17(1): 22–32.

Dias Da Silva, Rodolpho. “Medicinal plants of Brazil. Botanical and pharmacognostic studies. Muira puama.” Rev. Bras. Med. Pharm. 1925; 1(1): 37–41.

Anti-cholesterol Actions:

Jayasuriya, H., et al. “Diterpenoid, steroid, and triterpenoid agonists of liver X receptors from diversified terrestrial plants and marine sources.” J. Nat. Prod. 2005; 68(8): 1247-52.

Cherksey, B. D. “Method of preparing Muira puama extract and its use for decreasing body fat percentage and increasing lean muscle mass.” United States Patent No. 5516516, 1998.

Ingredients: 100% pure muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides) root and bark. No binders, fillers or additives are used. This product is non-irradiated and non-fumigated. It is a wild harvested product—grown naturally in the Brazilian Amazon without any pesticides or fertilizers.

Suggested Use: The active chemicals in this plant are not very water soluble. It is best prepared as an alcohol tincture. Combine 1 part bark powder with 4 parts 90 proof alcohol (everclear or vodka). Allow to macerate for 2 weeks while agitating solution daily. Strain into a clean bottle and seal. It is traditionally taken in dosages of 2-3 ml (60 to 90 drops) 2-3 times daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal tinctures, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.

Contraindications: None reported.

Drug Interactions: None reported.

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