Ptychopetalum is a genus of two species of flowering plants in the family Olacaceae, native to the Amazon rainforest. The indigenous name for the genus is Muira Puama, "potency wood". The species are shrubs or small trees growing to about 14 feet in height belonging to the Olacaceae family (not to be confused with the Oleaceae or olive family) and found in Brazil. Its leaves are short-petioled, up to 3 inches in length and 2 inches in breadth light green on upper surface, dark brown on lower surface. The inflorescences consist of short axillary racemes of 4 to 6 flowers each. The root is strongly tough and fibrous, internally light brown with thin bark and broad wood, has a faint odor, and tastes slightly saline and acrid.
Historically all parts of Muira Puama have been used medicinally, but typically it is the bark and root of Ptychopetalum olacoides which is harvested and used both traditionally and in herbal products. It contains long-chain fatty acids, plant sterols, coumarin, lupeol, and the alkaloid muirapuamine. There is a second almost identical species, Ptychopetalum uncinatum, which is sometimes used as a substitute with the only noticeable difference being a lower concentration of the chemical lupeol.
The root and bark are used for a variety of ailments by indigenous peoples in the Rio Negro area of South America, but the effectiveness of Muira Puama preparations are unproven. However, in a 1990 study conducted by Jacques Waynsberg at the Institute of Sexology in Paris, 62% of men who took muira puama extract noted an increase in sex drive and 51% of participants reported an increased ability to produce an erection.[unreliable medical source?]
For its tonic effect, one of the traditional remedies is to gently simmer 1 teaspoon of root and/or bark in one cup of water for 15 minutes and take 1/2 to 1 cup daily.
There is evidence that Muira Puama is anxiogenic in rodents (causes anxiety), which would be consistent with a stimulant effect, without affecting coordination. However, rather than increasing the activity of excitatory NT, it decreases the activity of an inhibitory transmitter, GABAA.
- "Tropical Plant Database file for Muira Puama". Raintree Nutrition Incorporated. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Youngken, H.W (1921). "OBSERVATIONS ON MUIRA-PUAMA". Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association 10 (9): 690–692. doi:10.1002/jps.3080100910.
- "Muira-Puama". PDR health. Retrieved 2006-04-21.[dead link]
- Waynsberg J Aphrodisiacs: Contribution to the clinical validation of the traditional use of Ptychopetalum guyanna. Presented at the First International Congress on Ethnopharmacology, Strasbourg, France, June 5-9, 1990.[full citation needed]
- Da Silva, A. L. (2002). "Anxiogenic properties of Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth. (Marapuama)". Phytotherapy Research 16 (3): 223–226. doi:10.1002/ptr.825. PMID 12164265.