Muira puama, marapuama or liriosma is a bush occurring in the northern and northeastern parts of Brazil. The white flowers have a jasmine-like pungent and aromatic smell. It is also known under the name potency wood or under its latin name Ptychopetalum uncinatum (also known as P. olacoides)
The active constituents are contained in the bark from which a concentrated water extract or a dilute herbal tea can be prepared. The herbal tea is slightly bitter but can, of course, be sweetened to make it more palatable. A daily dose of muira puama would correspond to the order of magnitude of one gramme of bark.
It is alleged to be effective against a multitude of symptoms. M. Penna in "Notes Sobre Plantas Brasileires" (1930) includes treatment of disorders of the nervous system, impotency, and gastrointestinal and circulatory astenia. D. Schwontkowski in "Herbs of the Amazon" (1993) mentiones not only impotence but frigidity, menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome.
In a French study of 262 patients complaining of erectile impotence or lack of libido, within two weeks of daily treatment 62 % of patients with loss of libido claimed that the treatment had effect. Of the patients with erection failures 51 % felt that muira puama was beneficial.
No constituents, which could give rise to the reported alleged effects have yet been isolated and identified.
Other Brazilian aphrodisiac plants
Three other plants have frequently been used in Brazilian folk medicine as aphrodisiacs: Catuaba (Juniperus brasiliensis, cajueiro (cashew nut, see photo at right)(Anacardium occidentale) and koribo (Tanaecium nocturnum). The main uses of the first plant are said to be for male impotency, for extreme fatigue and as a general tonic. Cajueiro is used as a general tonic for the body, also having aphrodisiacal effects. An additional use of koribo, besides as an aphrodisiac, is to treat diarrhea.