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 Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 1, 2018.
Clinical evidence is lacking to support the effects of P. olacoides on sexual dysfunction. Focus has turned to an examination of potential use in Alzheimer or similar conditions of cognitive decline. Studies in rodents demonstrated improved memory and reversal of cognitive impairment; however, clinical trials are lacking.
Research reveals no quality clinical trials to provide guidance on suitable dosages.
Contraindications have not yet been identified.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Research regarding adverse reactions to muira puama is lacking.
Studies are lacking. 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 adverse reactions of hematological or biochemical changes were reported.
- Olacaceae (olax)
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 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 1.5 feet long and 1/8 to 1.5 inches in diameter, with short, sharp projections occasionally uniting 2 or more roots. They are conical and nearly straight, tapering into a small point. The roots have a slightly saline and acrid taste.1
The promotion of muira puama as a male aphrodisiac or as a treatment for impotence can be traced back to the 1930s in Europe, but its popularity has increased with the success of sildenafil and the concurrent promotion of herbal sildenafil preparations. It is also a constituent of the popular Brazilian herbal tonic Catuama, consisting 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 used ingested for sexual impotence, rheumatism, and GI problems.1, 2
P. olacoides root bark produces a volatile oil containing alph-pinene, alph-humulene, beta-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, camphene, and camphor as major constituents.3, 4 Alpha- and beta-resinic acid have been identified in whole-plant extracts.4, 5 Methods for identification of diterpenoids and flavonoids have been described.6, 7 Thin-layer chromatography of an alkaloid fraction demonstrated the absence of yohimbine, but coumarin was detected.8 Fatty acid esters of sterols, free fatty acids (C21-C25), and free sterols such as lupeol have been isolated and identified.8, 9, 10 Similar compounds were isolated from L. ovata.11
Uses and Pharmacology
Animal studies for aphrodisiac effects are lacking.12 Effects on estrogen receptors have been demonstrated.13 In a study in which the other constituents of Catuama (guarana, catuaba, and ginger) were active, P. olacoides had no vasorelaxant effects.14 In another study, P. olacoides demonstrated less smooth muscle relaxant properties than the other constituents of catuama.15, 16
Clinical evidence is lacking to support the effects of P. olacoides on sexual dysfunction.16, 17 An open-label, uncontrolled clinical study suggested improvement upon administration of muira pauma in men with a lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection.18 A study conducted by the same researchers among women with sexual dysfunction using a combination of muira puama and ginkgo, also using an open-label design with no comparator, reported improved libido.19
Studies in rodents have demonstrated improved memory and reversal of cognitive impairment.20, 21, 22, 23 Mechanisms of action are unclear; however, repair of damaged neural cells and regeneration have been suggested,24 and anticholinesterase activity has been demonstrated.25, 26
The antidepressant activity of P. olacoides, including activity on serotonin receptors, has been demonstrated in mice.27, 28, 29, 30 Conversely, anxiogenic properties have been noted based on ethnopharmacological and rodent studies.31, 32 Antioxidant effects in the CNS have been demonstrated in mice.33, 34
Research reveals no clinical data for the use of P. olacoides in CNS disorders.
A multi-ingredient topical preparation that included P. olacoides was studied in periorbital hyperchromia (dark circles). The observed improvements were attributed to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.35
A screening study reported antimicrobial effects of P. olacoides extracts.36
Research reveals no quality clinical trials on which to provide guidance on suitable dosages. A toxicity study of the combination preparation Catuama in healthy volunteers used a 25 mL dose (containing 0.875 mL P. olacoides) twice daily for 28 days.37
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Effects on estrogen receptors have been demonstrated.13
None well documented.
Research regarding adverse reactions to muira puama is lacking. A study of the combination preparation Catuama in healthy volunteers found no serious adverse reactions and no hematological or biochemical changes at 25 mL dose (containing 0.875 mL of P. olacoides) twice daily for 28 days.37
Studies are lacking. 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 adverse reactions of hematological or biochemical changes were reported.37
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