The Benefits of Muira Puama

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Muira puama is a type of tree whose roots and stems are used medicinally. With a long history of use in Brazilian folk medicine, it's often said to act as a natural aphrodisiac. Muira puama is also thought to treat sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

Uses for Muira Puama

Muira puama is said to act as a natural remedy for the following health issues: depression, erectile dysfunction, joint pain, loss of appetite, menstrual complaintspremenstrual syndrome, and upset stomach.

Muira puama is also used as an adaptogen (i.e., a substance thought to increase the body's resistance to the negative effects of chronic stress).

In addition, muira puama is purported to treat the loss of libido. It's said to protect against aging-related memory problems as well.

The Benefits of Muira Puama

While there's currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of muira puama, some preliminary studies indicate that this herb may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from these studies:

1)  Brain Health

Several preliminary studies have demonstrated that muira puama shows promise in the treatment of aging-related declines in brain function. In a mouse-based study published in Phytomedicine in 2007, for instance, scientists discovered that compounds found in muira puama may help shield brain health by reducing damage induced by oxidative stress (a destructive process linked to aging-associated cognitive decline).

 There's also some evidence that muira puama may help enhance memory.

2)  Erectile Dysfunction

In a rat-based study published in the journal Andrology in 2015, researchers found that treatment with a combination of muira puama, ginger, L-citrulline (an amino acid), and guarana may help protect against aging-related erectile dysfunction.

Related: Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction

3)  Libido

Taking a combination of muira puama and ginkgo biloba may help treat sexual dysfunction in healthy women, suggests a study published in Advances in Therapy in 2000.

For the study, 202 healthy women complaining of low sex drive were treated with an herbal formulation containing muira puama and ginkgo biloba for one month. At the end of the treatment period, questionnaires completed by the participants showed that the herbal formulation led to improvements in factors such as frequency of sexual desires and satisfaction with sex life.

4)  Depression

Muira puama extract may have antidepressant-like effects, according to a mouse-based study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2009.

5)  Stress

A preliminary study published in Phytomedicine in 2010 shows that muira puama may counteract the harmful effects of prolonged stress. In tests on mice, the study's authors observed that muira puama might possess adaptogen-like properties.

Related: 3 Herbal Supplements for Stress Relief

Side Effects & Safety Concerns

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of muira puama. However, there's some concern that use of muira puama may trigger sleep problems such as insomnia.

There's also some concern that use of muira puama may inhibit the activity of an enzyme called cholinesterase and, in turn, increase your risk of loss of muscle coordination.

It should also be noted that self-treating any chronic condition with muira puama and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. Go here to learn more about using herbal supplements.

Where to Find It

You can purchase dietary supplements containing muira puama in many natural-foods stores and other stores specializing in herbal products. Muira puama supplements are also widely available for purchase online.

Sources

da Silva AL1, Piato AL, Bardini S, Netto CA, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. "Memory retrieval improvement by Ptychopetalum olacoides in young and aging mice." J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec;95(2-3):199-203.

Ferrini MG1, Hlaing SM2, Chan A3, Artaza JN1. "Treatment with a combination of ginger, L-citrulline, muira puama and Paullinia cupana can reverse the progression of corporal smooth muscle loss, fibrosis and veno-occlusive dysfunction in the aging rat." Andrology (Los Angel). 2015 Jun;4(1).

Piato AL1, Detanico BC, Linck VM, Herrmann AP, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. "Anti-stress effects of the "tonic"Ptychopetalum olacoides (Marapuama) in mice." Phytomedicine. 2010 Mar;17(3-4):248-53. 

Piato AL1, Rizon LP, Martins BS, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. "Antidepressant profile of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Marapuama) in mice." Phytother Res. 2009 Apr;23(4):519-24.

Siqueira IR1, Cimarosti H, Fochesatto C, Nunes DS, Salbego C, Elisabetsky E, Netto CA. "Neuroprotective effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Olacaceae) on oxygen and glucose deprivation induced damage in rat hippocampal slices." Life Sci. 2004 Aug 27;75(15):1897-906.

Siqueira IR1, Fochesatto C, da Silva AL, Nunes DS, Battastini AM, Netto CA, Elisabetsky E. "Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian "nerve tonic", possesses anticholinesterase activity." Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):645-50.

Siqueira IR1, Fochesatto C, Torres IL, da Silva AL, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E, Netto CA. "Antioxidant activities of Ptychopetalum olacoides ("muirapuama") in mice brain." Phytomedicine. 2007 Nov;14(11):763-9.

Waynberg J1, Brewer S. "Effects of Herbal vX on libido and sexual activity in premenopausal and postmenopausal women." Adv Ther. 2000 Sep-Oct;17(5):255-62.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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