Gaia Herbs | plant intelligence

Muira Puama

We are still researching and writing the content for this herb entry in our Herb Reference Guide. Thanks for your patience as we compile useful information on the more than 150 herbs in our materia medica.


Muira puama, also called “potency wood,” is a tree that is native to the Brazilian Amazon and other parts of the Amazon rainforest. The small, white flowers have a pungent fragrance similar to jasmine. Historically, all parts of Muira Puama have been used medicinally, but the bark and roots are the most-utilized parts of the plant. It has long been used in the Amazon by indigenous peoples for a number of purposes, including tonifying digestion and supporting the nervous system. Here is a quote from an article written by Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham on a direct experience he has had with Muira Puama in its native setting; “While there we ventured into the rain forest with native guides who showed us Catuaba and Muira Puama trees growing in different places. We also witnessed the harvesting of catuaba bark and its subsequent sale to a local buyer. We learned that most natives use these plants by placing a small handful of their combined barks in a glass of room-temperature water, let the herbs sit overnight, and drink the resulting amber infusion in the morning.”


Scientists have identified a group of sterols including beta-sitosterol, thought to be responsible for Muira Puama’s effects. The science on this plant is still evolving, but it has been under investigation since the 1920s. More recent investigation of the phytochemical composition has revealed the presence of free long-chain fatty acids, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, and novel alkaloids. As with many traditional medicines it is likely that it is not any one chemical that is responsible for the activity, rather the entire plant extract.

Uses of Muira Puama


    This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

    Active Constituents

    Alkaloids, Alpha-Resinic Acid, Beta-Resininc acid, Beta Sitosterol, Campesterol, Lupeol, Pentacosanoic acid, Phlobaphene,

    Parts Used

    • Bark

    Important precautions

    Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

    Additional Resources

    Rowland, D. L., et al. “A review of plant-derived and herbal approaches to the treatment of sexual dysfunctions.” J. Sex. Marital Ther. 2003 May-Jun; 29(3): 185-205.

    Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian “nerve tonic,”; Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 2003 Jun; 75(3): 645-50.

    Siqueira, I. R., et al. “Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian “nerve tonic,” possesses anticholinesterase activity.” Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 2003 Jun; 75(3): 645-50.

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