Muira puama – potency tree
Muira puama – an inconspicuous tree with an intriguing name. It is adorned with white flowers that are reminiscent of jasmine in fragrance. One would think it would be suitable for an ornamental bush in the garden. The South American Indians, however, found a completely different use for this plant. From its dried bark and root, they made a healthy infusion – a “cure” for many conditions.
- Muira puama – an Amazonian tree full of vigour
- Muira puama – a natural Indian aphrodisiac
- What is found in muira puama that makes it so appealing?
- Muira puama – other properties
- Muira puama – does it really work? Research
- How to consume muira puama? After how long does it work?
- Can the use of muira puama have side effects?
- Yerba mate with added muira puama? We say yes!
Muira puama – an Amazonian tree full of vigour
The name “muira puama” actually refers to more than one plant. They are inconspicuous and not very tall trees or shrubs, belonging to one genus, Ptychopetalum, and to the family of serpentine plants – Olacaceae in Latin. They grow in the rainforest of South America, in an area stretching between three rivers – the Amazon, Rio Negro and Orinoco. They are mainly found in Brazil, Guyana and Suriname. They are also called marapuama, muirapuama or mirantã by the locals, which loosely translated means “tree of potency”. This name is not coincidental, as muira puama has become famous in the South American world for its very interesting properties, which you will read a little more about in a moment. Let's go back to what the plant is. The trees referred to by the term muira puama grow to around 5 metres in height. They have short leaves, lighter in colour on the upper surface and dark brown on the underside. They bloom with small flowers, clustered in inflorescences. Indians living in the Amazon area used virtually all parts of the plant – leaves, stems, roots and bark – in traditional medicine. In today's natural medicine, it is mainly the bark and roots that are used.
Muira puama – a natural Indian aphrodisiac
The plant has been used in folk medicine for many centuries. Muira puama gained particular popularity among Indians for its aphrodisiac properties. They believed that the plant had a salutary effect on libido, cured female frigidity and improved male sexual performance. The root and bark were used by local shamans to make infusions to cure impotence. The miraculous properties of the plant were discovered by European settlers who migrated to South America. They also brought muira puama to the Old Continent. It was particularly popular in Great Britain, where it was included in the British Pharmacopoeia. It is still present in the lists of the British Herbal Society. Among other things, it is indicated there as one of the remedies for dysentery and impotence. In Europe, it has been used to treat infertility, muscular pains and menstrual disorders. Muira puama has also made its way to the United States. It is used there in similar areas to those in Europe and is still gaining popularity.
What is found in muira puama that makes it so appealing?
The root and bark of the plant are rich in fatty acids, essential oils and plant sterols. Muira puama contains lupeol, which has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects. A new alkaloid has also been discovered in it, not found anywhere else outside the plant, which has been named muirapuanine. It is believed that muira puama owes its aphrodisiac effects to the beta-sitosterol it contains. In addition, the plant contains coffee acid, camphor, coumarin, theobromine and vanillic acid.
Muira puama – other properties
As it turns out, the plant, which is rich in phytochemicals, not only has an excellent effect on the sexual sphere, but also finds many other wide-ranging uses. Indians have used it for centuries to treat neuromuscular ailments, rheumatism, colds, circulation and digestive problems. It was used as a remedy for beri-beri disease, or vitamin B1 deficiency. A decoction of the roots was added to baths and used in massages. An infusion of the bark and root was not only consumed as a drink, but also used as a tonic. Muira puama was said to prevent baldness. The plant was believed to have an analgesic effect, to help regulate blood pressure, to have a positive effect on mood and to reduce feelings of stress. Although it does not contain caffeine, it is believed to improve the body's physical performance – adding energy and offsetting feelings of fatigue. It also improves thinking and increases concentration, which is beneficial in learning.
Muira puama – does it really work? Research
As early as the 1920s, the plant became the subject of scientific research. Scientists wondered where the unusual properties of muira puama came from and tried to study its effects in depth. Although to date many of its effects are still a mystery to us, over the years researchers have managed to establish quite a few facts about it. In 1930, muira puama was described in a book entitled “Notas Sobre Plantas Brasilerias” by Brazilian scientist Meiro Penna. There, he cited the experiments that Dr Rebourgeon had conducted in France – these were supposed to be about the plant's efficacy in treating impotence and digestive disorders. Discoveries also continued after the war, especially in the 1960s and 1980s, and the results of the research may surprise you. At the Paris Institute for Sexual Research, Dr Jacques Waynberg conducted experiments using muira puama, and the results were amazing. One study involved 262 patients who were experiencing a lack of desire and a lack of erection. As many as 62% of the subjects experienced an increased libido after just two weeks of consuming the plant, and 51% of patients noticed a marked improvement. Another study took a sample of 100 patients with sexual dysfunctions. Each of them took 1.5 grams of the plant extract every day. This time, the experiment lasted longer. After its completion, up to 66% of the participants reported an increased frequency of sexual intercourse. In a group of 46 participants complaining of a complete lack of desire, 70% of the subjects noticed an increased libido. Muira puama was more effective in the absence of psychosomatic problems. Among 26 participants with “sexual weakness”, muira puama eliminated the weakness in all of them, showing 100% effectiveness. The final report found that muira puama helped increase libido in 85% of the study participants. Over the years, the plant has also been studied for other properties. Muira puama extract was found to have a beneficial effect on the central nervous system, showing adaptogenic, anti-stress and anti-fatigue effects. According to reports, muira puama reduces stress, relaxes, regulates the endocrine system, improves memory, lowers blood pressure and has an analgesic effect.
How to consume muira puama? After how long does it work?
It is interesting to note that muira puama does not react best with water, but with alcohol. It is in alcohol that it releases its properties most effectively. So if you want to make the most of the benefits of this South American plant, the best form of consumption is a tincture. A tincture can be prepared by pouring 20-25% alcohol over the bark and roots. Leave the whole in a dark place for several days, shaking and stirring daily. After this time, strain the tincture. If it is too bitter, it can sweeten as desired. A good way to enjoy the miraculous properties of muira puama is also to make an infusion. Boil the decoction for about 15 minutes. One teaspoon of crushed muira puama bark or root is enough for a glass of water (250 millilitres). Once cooled, the remaining decoction can be strained. The infusion of muira puama has a mild yellow colour and a pleasant, slightly astringent taste.
Can the use of muira puama have side effects?
A miracle plant? It may work differently on everyone, but because of its valuable properties, it is worth trying. To date, studies have shown no side effects of muira puama, but pregnancy, breastfeeding and hypersensitivity to the plant are indicated as contraindications to its use. It is important to use it wisely and in moderation. If you have a serious medical condition, it is advisable to consult your doctor first. The dosage for a tincture of muira puama is a maximum of 2-3 teaspoons per day. As for the infusion, you should not drink more than 1-2 glasses per day. Some people wonder when the tincture or infusion of muira puama roots or bark should be used – in the morning or in the evening? Actually, it doesn't really matter, though it is important to remember that it has a stimulating effect. Although it does not contain caffeine, the plant can act as a stimulant, so drinking it just before bedtime is not always a good idea.
Yerba mate with added muira puama? We say yes!
Muira puama, alongside other wonder plants from South America with versatile uses, is becoming increasingly popular. Although it releases its properties most effectively when interacting with alcohol and less when served as an infusion, it also works well as an addition to tea or yerba mate. It has a slightly pungent, herbal flavour that blends perfectly with the vegetal taste of Ilex paraguariensis. It works particularly well in functional compositions designed to have an aphrodisiac effect. It is often paired with another plant with great potential. Catuaba and muira puama work perfectly together, and you will find them in the Brazilian mate teas Verde Mate Green La Potente and Katuava as well as in Yaguar Amore. Highly recommended!
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