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11 Health Benefits Of Muira Puama

Commonly known as 'the Viagra of the Amazon', Muira Puama (MP) is named for its use in traditional medicine as a neuromuscular tonic for the remedy of paralysis, impotency, dyspepsia, rheumatism, sexual debility, baldness, gastrointestinal problems, and menstrual problems. It is a medicinal plant that grows in the Amazon rainforest up to 5 m high. The scientific term for muira puama is Ptychopetalum olacoides.

The European explorers were the first to know about the use and qualities of this plant. Later, the plant gained popularity in the US among various medical practitioners. The amazing benefits of MP are listed in the noted herbal book named 'British Herbal Pharmacopoeia'. [1]

Bioactive Compounds Of Muira Puama

The main components in 'potency wood' or MP are fatty acids, tannins, alkaloids, sterols, flavonoids, essential oils, esters, phenolic acids, and triterpenes. Flavonoids include luteolin and derivatives, alkaloids include magnoflorine and menisperine while phenolic acids include caffeic and syringic acids. [2]

Apart from this, diterpenoids in MP bark include 7-oxo-kolavelool, 12-oxo-hardwickiic acid and ptycholide 1, 2,3, and 4.

Health Benefits Of Muira Puama

1. Improves sexual weakness: According to a study, MP is very effective in improving erectile dysfunction, libido count, and penile hardness in men. The plant acts as a nerve stimulant and heightens the sexual stimuli. Also, the rich amount of sterols in MP increases the production of testosterone and enhance performance. [3] In women too, it has shown positive results in improving their libido, sexual desire, and satisfaction. [4]

2. Relieving stress: A study says that MP has effective anti-stress agents, which help to combat chronic stress. It also possesses adaptogen property, which is effective during stressful periods. [5]

3. Improves brain health: The roots of MP are used as traditional remedies to treat the ailments of the brain and central nervous system. The antioxidant property of MP reduces the production of free radicals in the hypothalamus; hencepreventing the damage to the brain by oxidative stress. [6]

4. Prevents degenerative diseases: A study shows that MP has promnesic and anti-amnesic properties which are effective against treating cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. It improves the levels of BDNF, a protein that stimulates the growth of new neurons and reduces the Aβ deposits which is the main component in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. [7]

5. Improves premenstrual syndrome: MP contains a total of eight compounds that strongly mimic oestrogen. It helps to treat the stressful periods, neuromuscular problems, stress, mood swings, menstrual cramps, and weakness. [8]

6. Treats stomach problems: The plant is known to treat many stomach-related problems like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and other discomforts of the stomach. It is also useful to treat problems caused due to infection in the intestinal tract. [9]

7. Manages osteoporosis: A condition identified by the imbalance between bone formation and resorption is called osteoporosis. A study suggests that a mixture of muira puama, ginger, and guarana is very effective in stimulating the production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase enzyme which is known to enhance fracture healing and bone regeneration. [10]

8. Treats various central nervous system disorders: The root of MP plant is known to treat various disorders of the CNS including those conditions which are associated with ageing. The ethanol extract from the root facilitates memory and proper functioning of the brain areas, especially those related to cognition. [11]

9. Improves heart rate: This herbal medicine improves the performance of the heart and strengthens the heart muscles. The standardised root extract of MP has a long history to improve the heart rate of a person. [12]

10. Treating baldness: Hair loss or baldness is a common and one of the serious problems in individuals from the health front. Though there is not much scientific evidence, the roots and bark of MP, when decocted help to treat hair loss and baldness. [9]

11. Treats paralysis: The root decoction of MP is used for massaging the area which is affected by paralysis. MP roots act as a neuromuscular tonic for treating muscle weakness and muscle-related disorders. [9]

Side Effects Of Muira Puama

There are no definite side effects of MP have been reported yet. However, it is suggested to consult a medical expert before starting the plant supplement. Some of the unproven side effects of MP are as follows:

  • It may trigger insomnia.
  • It may increase the risk of loss of muscle coordination.
  • It may cause mild headaches and stomach problems.
  • It may cause mild hypotension.
View Article References
  1. [1] "Muira puama," Examine.com, published on 30 September 2013, last updated on 18 September 2019, https://examine.com/supplements/muira-puama/
  2. [2] Tian, X., Guo, S., He, K., Roller, M., Yang, M., Liu, Q., ... & Bai, N. (2018). Qualitative and quantitative analysis of chemical constituents of Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth. Natural product research, 32(3), 354-357.
  3. [3] Lim P. (2017). Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED. Translational andrology and urology, 6(2), 167–175. doi:10.21037/tau.2017.04.04
  4. [4] Waynberg, J., & Brewer, S. (2000). Effects of Herbal vX on libido and sexual activity in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Advances in therapy, 17(5), 255-262.
  5. [5] Piato, A. L., Detanico, B. C., Linck, V. M., Herrmann, A. P., Nunes, D. S., & Elisabetsky, E. (2010). Anti-stress effects of the “tonic” Ptychopetalum olacoides (Marapuama) in mice. Phytomedicine, 17(3-4), 248-253.
  6. [6] Siqueira, I. R., Fochesatto, C., Torres, I. L. S., Da Silva, A. L., Nunes, D. S., Elisabetsky, E., & Netto, C. A. (2007). Antioxidant activities of Ptychopetalum olacoides (“muirapuama”) in mice brain. Phytomedicine, 14(11), 763-769.
  7. [7] Figueiró, M., Ilha, J., Linck, V. M., Herrmann, A. P., Nardin, P., Menezes, C. B., ... & Elisabetsky, E. (2011). The Amazonian herbal Marapuama attenuates cognitive impairment and neuroglial degeneration in a mouse Alzheimer model. Phytomedicine, 18(4), 327-333.
  8. [8] Powers, C. N., & Setzer, W. N. (2015). A molecular docking study of phytochemical estrogen mimics from dietary herbal supplements. In silico pharmacology, 3, 4. doi:10.1186/s40203-015-0008-z
  9. [9] Taylor, L. (2005). The healing power of rainforest herbs: A guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals (No. 615.321 T243). SquareOne publishers.
  10. [10] Rajfer, R. A., Flores, M., Abraham, A., Garcia, E., Hinojosa, N., Desai, M., … Ferrini, M. G. (2019). Prevention of Osteoporosis in the Ovariectomized Rat by Oral Administration of a Nutraceutical Combination That Stimulates Nitric Oxide Production. Journal of osteoporosis, 2019, 1592328. doi:10.1155/2019/1592328
  11. [11] Siqueira, I. R., Fochesatto, C., da Silva, A. L., Nunes, D. S., Battastini, A. M., Netto, C. A., & Elisabetsky, E. (2003). Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian “nerve tonic”, possesses anticholinesterase activity. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 75(3), 645-650.
  12. [12] Bucci, L. R. (2000). Selected herbals and human exercise performance. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 72(2), 624S-636S.
  13. [13] Picerno, P., Mencherini, T., Rastrelli, L., Piccinelli, A., & Aquino, R. (2008). Isoprenoid glycosides from Liriosma ovata. Journal of natural products, 71(2), 265-268.
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Story first published: Thursday, December 12, 2019, 15:48 [IST]
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