Also known as “potency wood”, Muira Puama has long been used by the Amazonian people to manage a variety of age related conditions. It is marketed in Brazil as a “body stimulant, energetic tonic and aphrodisiac”. It can be especially useful in supporting healthy erectile response and restoring libido in men suffering the effects of fatigue or age related complaints.
Muira Puama contains “sterols”, the building blocks of sex hormones such as testosterone. One study found that this herb relaxes the corpus cavernosa – a sponge like area that holds blood during an erection. This relaxation allows more blood to flow to the penis, producing a stronger and firmer erectile response. Dr Jacques Maynberg conducted two studies at the Institute of Sexology in Paris, where he gave men stricken with low libido and diminished erectile capacity Muira Puama for two weeks. In both studies between 60% - 70% of the men reported a notable increase in libido and an improvement in their ability to maintain an erection.
A study was done with 202 women to investigate the potential of Muira Puama as a libido boosting herb for women with low sex drives. It was found that after one month of supplementation with this herb that 65% reported improvements in sexual desire and satisfaction. Some of the women also experienced more sexual fantasies and increased orgasm intensity.
Central Nervous System
The indigenous peoples of the Amazon have consumed Muira Puama for centuries as a remedy for a sluggish central nervous system. When this plant was studied by Siqueira et al for its effect on the central nervous system, it was found that, “Muira Puama roots possess various central nervous system activities, including mild anxiogenic effects” – meaning that they help to stimulate the CNS which can lead to increased mental performance and physical stamina.
Studies have found that Muira Puama may also help in improving memory among older individuals. In a study conducted by Brazilian researchers in 2004, aging rats when treated with this herb performed well in memory tests, along with adult mice. This memory enhancing effect is thought to be due to its ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme which breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is necessary for cognition and memory. By protecting acetylcholienesterase, this herb may have therapeutic properties for cognition-impaired and memory affected individuals.
Folklore and history
Historically, all parts of Muira Puama have been used medicinally, but the bark and roots are the most-utilized parts of this plant. It is mentioned in the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia as a powerful aphrodisiac and has long been used in the Amazon by indigenous peoples for a number of purposes. Natives 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 massage oils for treating paralysis and beri-beri. A root-and-bark tea is taken to treat sexual dysfunction, rheumatism, grippe, and cardiac and gastrointestinal weakness – it is also valued as a preventive for baldness. In Brazilian herbal medicine, Muira Puama is a highly-regarded sexual stimulant with a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac.
Often referred to as the “Viagra of the Amazon”, Muira Puama has an enduring history of traditional use as an energy tonic, remedy for impotence and offers a natural therapeutic approach to loss of libido in both men and women.
In Europe it also has a long history of use as an anti-rheumatic, aphrodisiac, a tonic for overall health and for gastrointestinal disorders.
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.