Muira Puama

Scientific Name(s): Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth. Olacaceae (olax family). Less commonly P. uncinatum Anselm. and Liriosma ovata Miers

Common Name(s): Muira puama , marapuama , potency wood , raiz del macho , potenzholz

Uses

P. olacoides is used as a tonic for neuromuscular problems. A root decoction is used externally in massages and baths for paralysis and beriberi. Oral use of tea made from the roots for sexual impotence, rheumatism, and GI problems has been noted. Muira puama is currently promoted as a male aphrodisiac or as a treatment for impotence.

Dosing

Muira puama leaves, stem, and roots typically are used at a dose of 0.5 to 1.5 g/day, although there are no clinical studies supporting this dose. 1

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Research reveals little or no information about adverse reactions of muira puama.

Toxicology

Muira puama does not appear to have the serious side effect potential of yohimbine.

Botany

P. olacoides is a small tree native to the Brazilian Amazon where the stems and roots are used as a tonic for neuromuscular problems. A root decoction is used externally in massages and baths for paralysis and beriberi. Oral use of tea made from the roots for sexual impotence, rheumatism, and GI problems has been noted. 2

History

Muira puama is currently promoted as a male aphrodisiac or as a treatment for impotence. This use can be traced back to the 1930s in Europe but has increased with the success of sildenafil ( Viagra ) and the concurrent promotion of “herbal Viagra ” preparations. It is also a constituent of a popular Brazilian herbal tonic “catuama” consisting of guarana, ginger, Trichilia catigua , and P. olacoides . Muira puama was official in the Brazilian Pharmacopeia of 1956.

Chemistry

P. olacoides root bark produces a volatile oil containing α-pinene, α-humulene, β-pinene, β-caryophyllene, camphene, and camphor as major constituents. 3 Alkaloids have been detected but not fully characterized. TLC of an alkaloid fraction demonstrated the absence of yohimbine. Coumarin was detected. 4 Fatty acid esters of sterols, free fatty acids (C 21 -C 25 ), and free sterols such as lupeol have been isolated and identified. 4 , 5 , 6 Similar compounds were isolated from L. ovata . 7

Uses and Pharmacology

An extract of P. olacoides reduced locomotor activity in an open field test in mice when orally given 1 hour before testing; however, the same extract reduced immobility time in a forced swimming test. An α 2 -adrenergic mechanism was postulated because clonidine gave similar results and yohimbine antagonized the effects of both clonidine and the extract. 8 A hot water extract of P. olacoides did not induce colony stimulating factor or mitogenesis in an ex vivo immunomodulation study of 21 Brazilian plants. 9

Japanese patents have been issued that claim muira puama preparations are useful against stress-induced gastric ulceration 10 and stress-induced blood calcium elevation. 11

Pharmacologic investigation of catuama and its constituents found that P. olacoides had modest analgesic effects in chemical and thermal mouse models of pain. The combined preparation had an effect on the opioid system, demonstrating morphine cross-tolerance and blockade by naloxone. 12 P. olacoides had no vasorelaxant effects in a related study in which the other constituents of catuama were active. 13

Clinical studies to support the use of muira puama are sparse. Several promotional Web sites cite the work of a French clinician, Jacques Waynberg, 14 to support their claims; however, peer-reviewed publications are currently lacking. Muira puama has been contrasted favorably with yohimbine. 15 A German language review was published many years ago. 16

Dosage

Muira puama leaves, stem, and roots typically are used at a dose of 0.5 to 1.5 g/day, although there are no clinical studies supporting this dose. 1

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Research reveals little or no information about adverse reactions of muira puama.

Toxicology

Muira puama does not appear to contain yohimbine, nor to have the serious side effect potential of yohimbine.

Bibliography

1. Gruenwald J, ed. PDR for Herbal Medicines . 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Medical Economics; 2000: 531-532.
2. Schultes R, et al. The Healing Forest: Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the Northwest Amazon. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press,1990, p. 343.
3. Bucek E, et al. Volatile constituents of Ptychopetalum olacoides root oil. Planta Med 1987;53:231.
4. Toyota A, et al. Studies of Brazilian crude drugs. 1. Muira-puama. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 1979;33:57.
5. Ito Y, et al. Constituents from Muira-puama (the roots of Ptychopetalum olacoides ). Nat Med 1995;49:487.
6. Auterhoff H, et al. Contents of muira puama. Arch Pharm Ber Dtsch Pharm Ges 1968;301:481. German.
7. Iwasa J, et al. Studies on the constituents of muira puama. Yakugaku Zasshi 1969;89:1172.
8. Paiva L, et al. Effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides extract on mouse behavior in forced swimming and open field tests. Phytother Res 1998;12:294.
9. Kawaguchi K, et al. Colony stimulating factor-inducing activity of isoflavone C-glucosides from the bark of Dalbergia monetaria . Planta Med 1998;64:653.
10. Asano T, et al. Oral compositions containing muira-puama for gastric mucosal lesions. 1999; Japanese Patent No. 11343244.
11. Sudo D, et al. Evaluation of tonic effects of bioactive substances based on stress-induced change in blood calcium. 2000; Japanese Patent No. 2000009717.
12. Vaz Z, et al. Analgesic effect of the herbal medicine catuama in thermal and chemical models of nociception in mice. Phytother Res 1997;11:101.
13. Calixto J, et al. Herbal medicine catuama induces endothelium-dependent and -independent vasorelaxant action on isolated vessels from rats, guinea-pigs and rabbits. Phytother Res 1997;11:32.
14. Waynberg J. Male sexual asthenia - interest in a traditional plant-derived medication. J. Ethnopharmacol 1995.
15. Murray M. Yohimbine vs. muira puama in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Am J Nat Med November 1994.
16. Steinmetz E. Muira puama. Quart J Crude Drug Res 1971;11:1787.

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