The Benefits of Mulungu in Alternative Medicine

Can this tree bark help relieve anxiety?

mulungu tree
Mulungu tree. Credit: Pmenge/Moment Open/Getty Images

Mulungu (Erythrina mulungu) is a natural remedy said to offer a variety of health benefits. Extracted from the mulungu tree, a tree native to South America, mulungu is available in dietary supplement form. Since the herb is thought to possess sedative properties, mulungu is often used as a treatment for anxiety.

You can find mulungu in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

It's also widely available for purchase online.

Uses for Mulungu

In alternative medicine, mulungu is said to help with the following conditions:

Mulungu is purported to alleviate pain and support weight loss. It is also thought to act as an anticonvulsant and, in turn, protect against epileptic seizures.

Health Benefits of Mulungu

To date, few studies have tested the health effects of mulungu. However, some preliminary research in animals indicates that mulungu may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies:

1. Anxiety

Several studies show that mulungu holds promise in the treatment of anxiety. For example, a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacology found that extracts of mulungu bark helped lower anxiety in mice by depressing the central nervous system.

Additionally, a 2003 study from Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that rats treated with mulungu extract experienced a decrease in anxiety.

Given this finding, the study's authors suggest that mulungu may help manage such conditions as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. However, more research is needed before mulungu can be recommended for treatment of anxiety-related conditions.

2. Pain

Mulungu may help lessen pain, according to a 2003 study from Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin.

In tests on mice, the study's authors determined that mulungu extract may act as an antinociceptive - a substance that reduces the body's sensitivity to painful stimuli.

3. Epilepsy

Mulungu may have anticonvulsant effects, according to a an animal-based study published in Epilepsy & Behavior in 2012. In the study, researchers found that erysothrine - a compound extracted from the flowers of the mulungu plant - helped inhibit seizures and also produced mild anti-anxiety effects.

Health & Safety Concerns of Mulungu 

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of mulungu. However, there's some concern that mulungu may cause drowsiness. Additionally, mulungu may be harmful to people with low blood pressure.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals.

 Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. 

Learn more about using dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives to Mulungu

While research on the health effects of mulungu is limited, a number of other natural remedies appear to aid in anxiety management. For example, research suggests that herbs like passion flower, kava and valerian may each help ease anxiety.

What's more, there's some evidence that alternative therapies and mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, guided imagery, massage, acupuncture and hypnosis may also help manage anxiety. When used in aromatherapy, essential oils like lavender and rose may also have anxiety-relieving effects.

Using Mulungu for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend mulungu as a treatment for any condition. It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with mulungu and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of mulungu in treatment of a condition (such as epilepsy), make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.


Flausino OA Jr, Pereira AM, da Silva Bolzani V, Nunes-de-Souza RL. "Effects of erythrinian alkaloids isolated from Erythrina mulungu (Papilionaceae) in mice submitted to animal models of anxiety." Biol Pharm Bull. 2007 Feb;30(2):375-8.

Flausino O Jr, Santos Lde A, Verli H, Pereira AM, Bolzani Vda S, Nunes-de-Souza RL. "Anxiolytic effects of erythrinian alkaloids from Erythrina mulungu." J Nat Prod. 2007 Jan;70(1):48-53.

Onusic GM, Nogueira RL, Pereira AM, Flausino Júnior OA, Viana Mde B. "Effects of chronic treatment with a water-alcohol extract from Erythrina mulungu on anxiety-related responses in rats." Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 Nov;26(11):1538-42.

Santos Rosa D, Faggion SA, Gavin AS, Anderson de Souza M, Fachim HA, Ferreira dos Santos W, Soares Pereira AM, Cunha AO, Beleboni RO. "Erysothrine, an alkaloid extracted from flowers of Erythrina mulungu Mart. ex Benth: evaluating its anticonvulsant and anxiolytic potential. Epilepsy Behav. 2012 Mar;23(3):205-12.

Vasconcelos SM, Macedo DS, de Melo CT, Paiva Monteiro A, Rodrigues AC, Silveira ER, Cunha GM, Sousa FC, Viana GS. "Central activity of hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in mice." J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004 Mar;56(3):389-93.

Vasconcelos SM, Rebouças Oliveira G, Mohana de Carvalho M, Rodrigues AC, Rocha Silveira E, Maria França Fonteles M, Florenço Sousa FC, Barros Viana GS. "Antinociceptive activities of the hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in mice." Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 Jul;26(7):946-9.

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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