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Muira Puama

What is Muira Puama?

P. olacoides is a small tree, growing to about 14 feet tall, that is native to the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Its leaves are light green with dark brown lower surfaces. The roots have a slightly salty and bitter taste.

Scientific Name(s)

Ptychopetalum olacoides, Ptychopetalum uncinatum, Liriosma ovata

Common Name(s)

Muira puama is also known as marapuama, potency wood, raiz del macho, and potenzholz.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The promotion of muira puama as a male sexual stimulant or as a treatment for erectile dysfunction can be traced back to the 1930s in Europe, but its popularity has increased with the success of Viagra (sildenafil) and the promotion of herbal sildenafil preparations. It is also an ingredient of the popular Brazilian herbal tonic Catuama, consisting of guarana, ginger, Trichilia catigua, and P. olacoides. The stems and roots of P. olacoides have been used as a tonic for nerve and muscle problems. A root mixture is used externally in massages and baths for paralysis and beriberi (disease in which the body does not have enough thiamine [vitamin B1]). Tea made from the roots has been used for erectile dysfunction, rheumatism, and GI problems.

General uses

Clinical evidence to support the effects of P. olacoides on sexual dysfunction is limited. More focus is now on potential use in Alzheimer or similar conditions of mental decline. Studies in rodents demonstrated improved memory and reversal of mental impairment; however, clinical trials are limited.

What is the recommended dosage?

Clinical trials do not provide suitable dosages.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


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


None well documented.

Side Effects

Research regarding side effects to muira puama is limited.


Studies are limited. In a toxicity study of the combination preparation Catuama in healthy volunteers taking a 25 mL dose (containing 0.875 mL P. olacoides) twice daily for 28 days, no severe side effects were reported.


1. Muira Puama. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers. St. Louis, MO: Clinical Drug Information LLC; October 2015. Accessed October 2015.

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