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Muira Puama

Scientific Name(s): Liriosma ovata Miers., Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth., Ptychopetalum uncinatum Anselm.
Common Name(s): Composita, Marapuama, Mirantã, Muira puama, Muirapuama, Pilula potentin, Potency wood, Potenzholz, Raiz del macho

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 20, 2024.

Clinical Overview


P. olacoides has been evaluated both alone and as part of a combination product for use in sexual dysfunction; clinical evidence is lacking to support use of P. olacoides alone. Potential use in Alzheimer disease or conditions of cognitive decline has been examined, with studies of P. olacoides in rodents demonstrating improved memory and reversal of cognitive impairment. However, clinical trial data are lacking to recommend use for any indication.


There are no quality clinical trials to provide dosing guidance.


Contraindications have not been identified.


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


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information regarding adverse reactions to muira puama is lacking. Mild adverse reactions (often reported with a combination product) might include stomach bloating, discomfort, dyspepsia, nausea, burping, migraine, headache, nervousness, and agitation.


Robust clinical studies are lacking. In a toxicity study in healthy volunteers taking a 25 mL dose of the combination preparation Catuama (containing 0.875 mL of P. olacoides) twice daily for 28 days, no severe adverse reactions or hematological and biochemical changes were reported. In a pilot study, Revactin (each capsule containing 125 mg of muira puama, as well as other active pharmaceutical ingredients) was taken at a dosage of 2 capsules twice a day for 3 months; a total daily muira puama dose of 500 mg did not result in any severe adverse reactions.

Scientific Family


P. olacoides is a small tree that grows about 4 m in height and is native to the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Its leaves are light green with dark brown lower surfaces and broadly ovate, with an obtuse base, an attenuated apex, and short petioles. Flowers are arranged in short axillary racemes consisting of 4 to 6 flowers. The light-brown to grayish-brown roots are approximately 0.5 m long and 0.3 to 3.8 cm in diameter, with short, sharp projections occasionally uniting 2 or more roots. The roots are conical and nearly straight, tapering into a small point, and have a slightly saline and acrid taste.Youngken 1921


Promotion of muira puama as a male aphrodisiac or as a treatment for impotence can be traced to the 1930s in Europe, but use of muira puama, as well as other herbal supplements, as an alternative to standard pharmaceutical treatments of erectile dysfunction (eg, sildenafil) has become increasingly popular. The popular Brazilian herbal tonic Catuama consists of guarana, ginger, Trichilia catigua, and P. olacoides. Muira puama was included in the Brazilian Pharmacopeia of 1956. The stems and roots of P. olacoides have been used as a tonic for neuromuscular problems. A root decoction is used externally in massages and baths for paralysis and beriberi. Tea made from the roots has been traditionally used for sexual impotence, rheumatism, and GI problems.Corazza 2014, Schultes 1980, Youngken 1921


P. olacoides root bark produces a volatile oil containing alpha-pinene, alpha-humulene, beta-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, camphene, and camphor as major constituents.Bucek 1987, Duke 1992 Alpha- and beta-resinic acid have been identified in whole-plant extracts.Duke 1992, Rolim 2005 Methods for identification of diterpenoids and flavonoids have been described.Rolim 2006, Tang 2009 Thin-layer chromatography of an alkaloid fraction demonstrated the absence of yohimbine, but coumarin was detected.Toyota 1979 Fatty acid esters of sterols, free fatty acids (C21 to C25), and free sterols such as lupeol have been isolated and identified.Auterhoff 1968, Ito 1995, Toyota 1979 Similar compounds were isolated from L. ovata.Iwasa 1969 In addition, 14 known compounds were isolated from P. olacoides: N-trans-feruloyl-3,5-dihydroxyindolin-2-one, magnoflorine, menisperine, 4-coumaroylserotonin, moschamine, luteolin, 4′-methoxyluteolin, 3-methoxyluteolin, 3,7-dimethoxyluteolin, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, vanillic acid, syringic acid, and ginsenoside. Magnoflorine and menisperine were the major constituents in the barks of P. olacoides. Alkaloids are the dominant substances in P. olacoides.Tian 2018 Various sesquiterpenoid tropolone glycosides were isolated and characterized from L. ovata,Ma 2015 as well as diterpenoids such as ptycholactone.Tang 2018

Uses and Pharmacology

Antimicrobial effects

In vitro data

A screening study using agar diffusion tests reported antimicrobial effects of P. olacoides extracts.Oliveira 2013

Antioxidant activity

In vitro data

Antioxidant activity of P. olacoides extracts, which exhibited a half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of less than 10 mcg/mL (comparable with that of ascorbic acid), has been Vargas 2016

CNS effects

Animal data

Studies of P. olacoides administration in rodents have demonstrated improved memory and reversal of cognitive impairment.da Silva 2004, da Silva 2007, da Silva 2009, Figueiró 2011

Potential mechanisms of action in Alzheimer disease are unclear; however, repair of damaged neural cells and regeneration have been suggested,Howes 2012 and anticholinesterase activity has been demonstrated.Figueiró 2010, Siqueira 2003

Antidepressant activity of P. olacoides, including activity on serotonin receptors, has been demonstrated in mice.da Silva 2008, Piato 2008, Piato 2009, Piato 2010

Conversely, anxiogenic properties have been noted in ethnopharmacological and rodent studies.da Silva 2002, Paiva 1998

Antioxidant effects in the CNS have been demonstrated in mice.Siqueira 2004, Siqueira 2007

Periorbital hyperchromia

In vitro data

A multi-ingredient topical preparation that included P. olacoides was studied in volunteers with periorbital hyperchromia. In vitro examination determined the observed improvements were attributed to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.Eberlin 2009

Clinical data

In a small study evaluating effects of an herbal combination (Pfaffia paniculate/P. olacoides B./Lilium candidum L.–associated compound) on periorbital hyperchromia in healthy female volunteers (N=21), topical application of the compound led to significant improvement in skin luminance and tone in the periorbital area. Subjects reported reduced intensity and improved appearance of "dark circles."Eberlin 2009

Sexual dysfunction

Animal and in vitro data

Effects of P. olacoides on estrogen receptors have been demonstrated.Powers 2015 In a study in which the other constituents of Catuama (guarana, catuaba, and ginger) were active, P. olacoides had no vasorelaxant effects.Calixto 1997 In another study in isolated rabbit corpus cavernosum, P. olacoides demonstrated less smooth muscle relaxant properties than the other constituents of Catuama,Antunes 2001, Melnyk 2011 attributable in part to activation of the endogenous cellular iNOS-cGMP pathway within the cavernosal smooth muscle cells.Ferrini 2018

Clinical data

Clinical trials are lacking to support effects of P. olacoides alone on sexual dysfunction.Melnyk 2011, Shamloul 2010 An open-label, uncontrolled clinical study suggested improvement upon administration of muira puama in men with a lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection.Murray 2012 In a study of 262 men reporting a loss of sexual desire, 60% indicated improvement over pretrial levels following administration of muira puama extract 1 to 1.5 g daily for 2 weeks; more than 50% of the men unable to attain an erection rated treatment with muira puama as beneficial.Rowland 2003 In a 3-month pilot study, men with erectile dysfunction (N=54) received 2 capsules of Revactin (each capsule containing 125 mg each of ginger root, muira puama, and Paullinia cupana, and 400 mg of L-citrulline) orally twice daily. Safety of Revactin was demonstrated; early improvement in erectile function was observed in about 50% of patients, possibly due to elevated levels of cGMP produced via the iNOS-cGMP pathway.Nguyen 2018


There are no quality clinical trials to provide dosing guidance. Clinical trials evaluating P. olacoides alone are lacking.

In a review of data regarding herbal product use for sexual dysfunction, which included a study of muira puama use in men with loss of sexual desire, a muira puama concentrate dosage of 0.5 to 1.5 g/day was determined to be effective; although effect may be evident within 24 hours, studies used a 2-week regimen.Rowland 2003

Revactin, a combination product containing muira puama (125 mg per capsule), was administered as 2 capsules twice daily (total daily muira puama dose, 500 mg) over 3 months in a study of men with erectile dysfunction.Nguyen 2018

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Effects on estrogen receptors have been demonstrated.Powers 2015


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information regarding adverse reactions to muira puama is lacking. The stimulant action of muira puama may cause nervousness and agitation.Rowland 2003


Data are lacking. In a toxicity study in healthy volunteers taking a 25 mL dose of the combination preparation Catuama (containing 0.875 mL of P. olacoides) twice daily for 28 days, no severe adverse reactions or hematological and biochemical changes were reported.Oliveira 2005 No severe adverse reactions were noted when the combination product Revactin was used at daily muira puama doses amounting to 500 mg over a period of 3 months.Nguyen 2018



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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