Mulungu is traditionally used as an antidepressant, for anti -axiety, sedative, nervine, hepatotonicMULUNGU

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Erythrina

Species: mulungu, cristi-galli

Synonyms: Erythrina verna, Corallodendron mulungu

Common Names: Mulungu, corticeira, murungu, muchocho, murungo, totocero, flor-de-coral, árvore-de-coral, amerikadeigo, ceibo, chilichi, chopo, hosoba deiko, pau-imortal, mulungu-coral, capa-homem, suiná-suiná

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=155]

Part Used: Bark, root

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • relieves pain
  • kills bacteria
Bark, root
  • reduces anxiety
Decoction: 1/2 cup 1-2
  • calms nerves
times daily
  • moderately sedative
Tincture: 1-2 ml twice daily
  • supports liver
  • reduces blood pressure
  • regulates heart beat

Mulungu is a medium-sized, well-branched tree that grows 10-14 m high. It produces a profusion of pretty, reddish-orange flowers (pollinated by hummingbirds) at the ends of the tree’s many branches. The tree is sometimes called “coral flower,” as the flowers resemble the color of orange coral. It produces black seed pods containing large, red-and-black seeds, which are sometimes used by indigenous peoples to make necklaces and jewelry. Mulungu is indigenous to Brazil, parts of Peru, and tropical areas in Latin America and, typically, is found in marshes and along riverbanks. The Erythrina genus comprises more than 100 species of trees and shrubs (mostly all heavily armed with spines or thorns) in the topical and subtropical regions of both hemispheres. The mulungu tree (first recorded in 1829) is known by two botanical names, Erythrina mulungu and Erythrina verna. Another closely-related species, E. crista-galli, is used interchangeably in South American herbal medicine systems and is found farther south on the South American continent. The flower of E. crista-galli is the national flower of Argentina.


Several Erythrina tree species are used by indigenous peoples in the Amazon as medicines, insecticides, and fish poisons. Mulungu has long been used in Brazil by indigenous peoples as a natural sedative: it has been used to calm an overexcited nervous system and promote a restful sleep.

In both North and South American herbal medicine systems mulungu is considered to be an excellent sedative to calm agitation and nervous coughs and to treat other nervous system problems including insomnia and anxiety. It also is widely used for asthma, bronchitis, gingivitis, hepatitis, inflammation of the liver and spleen, intermittent fevers, and to clear obstructions in the liver. In both Brazil and Peru mulungu is used for epilepsy. Herbalists and practitioners in the United States use mulungu to quiet hysteria from trauma or shock, as a mild, hypnotic sedative to calm the nervous system, to treat insomnia and promote healthy sleeping patterns (by sedating overactive neurotransmitters), to regulate heart palpitations, and to treat hepatitis and liver disorders. Positive regulatory effects on heart palpitations and decreased blood pressure have been reported; Dr. Donna Schwontkowski, a chiropractor who has used Amazonian plants in her practice, recommends mulungu for hernias, stomachaches, and epilepsy – and to help augment milk flow as well.


The chemicals in mulungu have been studied extensively; they have been found to comprise large amounts of novel flavonoids, triterpenes, and alkaloids. Much research has been performed on Erythrina alkaloids in the last decade, as they represent a group of very active chemicals with various properties and are almost always present in Erythrina species. Thus far, alkaloids have been found in 78 of 107 species in the genus Erythrina; mulungu is documented with 20 isoquinoline alkaloids. Many of these have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, cardioactive, narcotic, and sedative activities. One novel alkaloid discovered in mulungu is called cristamidine. Its positive effect on the liver was demonstrated in a 1995 clinical study with rats. Mulungu’s hypotensive and heart-regulatory activities were studied and attributed to its alkaloids. Another alkaloid in mulungu (and other Erythrina plants), erysodine, has been documented with neuromuscular effects characteristic of curare arrow poisons. Two studies also indicate that it might be useful as an anti-nicotine drug, as it demonstrated actions as a competitive antagonist and to block nicotine receptors. Interestingly, both of these studies were published by major (and competing) pharmaceutical companies!

The main plant chemicals in mulungu include: alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cristacarpin, cristadine, crystamidine, dimethylmedicarpin, erybidine, erycristagallin, erycristanol, erycristin, erydotrine, erysodienone, erysodine, erysonine, erysopine, erysotrine, erysovine, erystagallin A-C, erythrabyssin II, erythralines, erythramine, erythratine, eryvariestyrene, gamma-amino butyric acid, glutamic acid, hypaphorine lectins, n-nor-orientaline, oleanolic acid, oleanonic acid, phaseollidins, proteinases, sandwicensis, ursolic acid, and vitexin.


The traditional use of mulungu for anxiety and stress has been validated by researchers in a recent (2002) study, where it was shown to alter anxiety-related responses. An animal model (correlating to human generalized anxiety disorder, as well as panic disorder) was undertaken on a water-alcohol extract of mulungu. The researchers reported that the mulungu extract had an effect similar to the commonly-prescribed anti-anxiety drug diazepam. It was suggested in this study that the alkaloids in Erythrina “may alter GABAergic neurotransmission.” GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain; abnormalities with its function is implicated in diseases including epilepsy, anxiety, and depression. Further research has validated the traditional use of mulungu as an antimicrobial agent for throat and urinary infections; mulungu has demonstrated antibacterial activity in two studies against Staphylococcus aureus, and antimycobacterial activity against Mycobacterium fortuitum and Mycobacterium smegmatis.


Mulungu is not very widely known or used in North America; mostly appearing as an ingredient in only a few herbal formulas for anxiety or depression. It is a wonderful rainforest medicinal plant that is deserving of much more attention in herbal medicine systems outside of South America. The main herbal remedy sold in America today for stress, anxiety and as a general sedative is kava-kava. This plant however, has had some negative press in recent years concerning possible negative effects to the liver. Since mulungu provides the same calming and stress relieving effects (if not better), and actually has a positive effect on the liver; it is poised as the new replacement for this highly popular (and profitable) herbal supplement.

Main Preparation Method: tincture or decoctioMain Actions (in order):antidepressant, anti-anxiety, sedative, nervine (balances/calms nerves), hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver) Main Uses:


  1. for mental disorders (depression, anxiety, stress, hysteria, panic disorders, compulsive disorders, etc.)
  2. as a sedative for insomnia, restlessness, and sleep disorders
  3. for liver disorders (hepatitis, obstructions, high liver enzyme levels, sclerosis, etc.)
  4. for high blood pressure and heart palpitations
  5. for drug and nicotine withdrawal

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
anti-anxiety, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimycobacterial, anti-spasmodic, hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver), hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), sedativeOther Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
analgesic (pain-reliever), anticonvulsant, antiseptic, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), central nervous system depressant, hypnotic, lactagogue (promotes milk flow), nervine (balances/calms nerves), neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain)

Cautions: It may lower blood pressure and may cause drowsiness.



Traditional Preparation: One-half cup of a standard bark or root decoction or 1-2 ml of a 4:1 tincture once or twice daily.


This plant is a sedative and may cause drowsiness.

In traditional medicine the plant is used to lower blood pressure. Clinical research with animals has documented hypotensive actions. It is recommended that those on medications to lower blood pressure (and those with low blood pressure) use mulungu with caution and monitor their blood pressure accordingly.

Drug Interactions: None documented; however, mulungu may potentiate some antianxiety drugs (such as diazepam) and antihypertensive drugs.

Argentina for diarrhea, hemorrhoids, respiratory infections, urinary infections, and as an antiseptic and sedative
Brazil for agitation, anxiety, asthma, bacterial infections, bronchitis, central nervous system disorders, convulsions, cough, cuts, epilepsy, fever, gingivitis, hepatitis, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, liver problems, menopause, muscle pain, neuralgia, nervous tension, rheumatism, spleen disorders, stress, throat (sore), whooping cough, and as an antiseptic and sedative
Colombia as a diuretic and sedative
Peru for cystitis, epilepsy, eye irritations, hysteria, insomnia
U.S. for central nervous system disorders, epilepsy, heart problems, hepatitis, hernia, high blood pressure, hysteria, insomnia, liver problems, stomachache, and as a lactation aid
Elsewhere for edema, epilepsy, eye, headaches, heart problems, hepatitis, hernia, hypertension, hysteria, insomnia, liver problems, palpitations, rheumatism, spasms, stomachache, stomach cancer, urinary insufficiency, and as a sedative


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

All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.

A complete Technical Data Report is available for this plant.

† The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.

Referenced Quotes on Mulungu

2. “Mulungu has been used to quiet hysteria from trauma or shock. It helps to balance neurotransmitters and promote peaceful sleep. It can help regulate heart palpitations and helps to regulate excess heart yang. It also can be used for hepatitis and liver dysfunctions.”

3. “Actions: Encourages healthy sleep patterns, Quiets hysteria. TRADITIONAL USE: Mulungu has been used to quiet hysteria from traumas or shock. Promotes healthy sleeping patterns by sedating overactive neurotransmissions. Regulates heart palpitations. Has been used for insomnia, hepatitis and liver dysfunctions and to aid the blood MERIDIAN INDICATIONS: Clears inner congestion, Sedates excessive Heart Yang. EVA POINTS: Circulation, Heart, Liver”

11.” Mulungu is used in Brazil and Peru as a mild hypnotic sedative to calm the nervous system, eliminate hysteria, decrease insomnia and promote healthy sleeping patterns by sedating overactive neurotransmitters. Mulungu has also been used to treat epilepsy.”

Third-Party Published Research on Mulungu

All available third-party research on mulungu can be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the published research on mulungu is shown below:

Pain-Relieving, Antispasmodic, Anticonvulsant, & Anti-inflammatory Actions:

Vasconcelos, S. M., et al. “Anticonvulsant activity of hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 26;

Marchioro, M., et al. “Anti-nociceptive activity of the aqueous extract of Erythrina velutina leaves.” Fitoterapia. 2005 Dec; 76(7-8): 637-42.

Chaddock, J. A., et al. “Retargeted clostridial endopeptidases: inhibition of nociceptive neurotransmitter release in vitro, and antinociceptive activity in in vivo models of pain.” Mov. Disord. 2004 Mar; 19 Suppl 8: S42-7.

Weber, D., et al. “Phomol, a new antiinflammatory metabolite from an endophyte of the medicinal plant Erythrina crista-galli.” J. Antibiot. 2004; 57(9): 559-63.

Vasconcelos, S. M., et al. “Antinociceptive activities of the hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in mice.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2003; 26(7): 946-9.

Njamen, D., et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of erycristagallin, a pterocarpene from Erythrina mildbraedii.” Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2003 May; 468(1): 67-74.

Duggan, M. J., et al. “Inhibition of release of neurotransmitters from rat dorsal root ganglia by a novel conjugate of a Clostridium botulinum toxin A endopeptidase fragment and Erythrina cristagalli lectin.” J. Biol. Chem. 2002 Sep; 277(38): 34846-52.

Anti-Anxiety Actions:

Ribeiro, M. D., “Effect of Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in rats submitted to animal models of anxiety and depression.” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 2006; 39(2): 263-70.

Onusic, G.M., et al. “Effects of chronic treatment with a water-alcohol extract from Erythrina mulungu on anxiety-related responses in rats.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2003; 26(11): 1538-42.

Onusic, G. M., et al. “Effect of acute treatment with a water-alcohol extract of Erythrina mulungu on anxiety-related responses in rats.” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 2002; 35(4): 473–77.

Kittler, J. T., et al. “Mechanisms of GABA receptor assembly and trafficking: implications for the modulation of inhibitory neurotransmission.” Mol. Neurobiol. 2002; 26(2–3): 251–68.

Memory Enhancement Actions:

Hidalgo, A., et al. “Differential expression of glycans in the hippocampus of rats trained on an inhibitory learning paradigm.” Neuropathology. 2006 Dec; 26(6): 501-7.

Sedative & Central Nervous System Depressant Actions:

Vasconcelos, S. M., et al. “Central activity of hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in mice.” J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 2004; 56(3): 389-93.

Anti-Osteoporotic Actions:

Zhang, Y., et al. “Anti-osteoporotic effect of Erythrina variegata L. in ovariectomized rats.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Jan; 109(1): 165-9.

Nicotine Withdrawal Actions:

Freyer, A, J., et al. “Isolation, structure elucidation, and biological evaluation of 15-amido-3-demethoxy- 2alpha,3alpha-methylenedioxyerythroculine, a new alkaloid from Hyperbaena valida.” J. Nat. Prod. 2006; 69(10): 1514-6.

Daly. J. W. “Nicotinic agonists, antagonists, and modulators from natural sources.” Cell. Mol. Neurobiol. 2005 Jun; 25(3-4): 513-52.

Mansbach, R. S., et al. “Effects of the competitive nicotinic antagonist erysodine on behavior occasioned or maintained by nicotine: comparison with mecamylamine.” Psychopharmacology. 2000; 148(3): 234–42.

Decker, M. W., et al. “Erysodine, a competitive antagonist at neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.” Eur. J. Pharmacol. 1995; 280(1): 79–89.

Liver Protective Actions:

Sanzen, T., et al. “Expression of glycoconjugates during intrahepatic bile duct development in the rat: an immunohistochemical and lectin-histochemical study.” Hepatology. 1995; 3: 944–51.

Antimicrobial Actions:

de Lima, M. R., et al. “Anti-bacterial activity of some Brazilian medicinal plants.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Apr; 105(1-2): 137-47

Sato, M., et al. “Antibacterial property of isoflavonoids isolated from Erythrina variegata against cariogenic oral bacteria.” Phytomedicine. 2003; 10(5): 427-33.

Holetz, F. B., et al. “Screening of some plants used in the Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases.” Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz. 2002 Oct; 97(7): 1027-31.

Tanaka, H., et al. “Antibacterial activity of isoflavonoids isolated from Erythrina variegata against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 2002; 35(6): 494-8.

Mitscher, L. A., et al. “Antimicrobial agents from higher plants. Erycristagallin, a new petrocarpene from the roots of the Bolivian coral tree, Erythrina crista-galli.” Heterocycles. 1984; 22(8): 1673–75.

Mitscher, L. A., et al. “Erycristin, a new antimicrobial pterocarpan from Erythrina crista-galli.” Phytochemistry. 1988; 27(2): 381–85.

Ingredients: 100% pure mulungu bark (Erythrina mulungu). No binders, fillers or additives are used. It is a wild harvested product—grown naturally in the Brazilian Amazon without any pesticides or fertilizers.

Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as a decoction. Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Bring to a boil and gently boil in a covered pot for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and settle for 10 minutes and strain warm liquid into a cup (leaving the settled powder in the bottom of the pan). It is traditionally taken in 1/2 cup amounts twice daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal decoctions, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.


This plant is traditionally used as a sedative and may cause drowsiness.

Mulungu has demonstrated hypotensive actions in animal studies. It is probably contraindication in persons with low blood pressure.

Drug Interactions: None documented; however, mulungu may enhance the effect of some antianxiety drugs and blood pressure drugs.

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