The muira puama tree (Ptychopetalum olacoides) is native to the Amazon in Brazil, where the natives have used the stems and roots to treat neuromuscular problems, erectile dysfunction, rheumatism, and gastrointestinal disorders. Muira puama is currently marketed in the United States and elsewhere as a male aphrodisiac or as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. The herb reportedly causes an increase in blood flow to the pelvic area, and long-term use may enhance the production of sex hormones in both men and women. There is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, however.
A French scientist has conducted several studies of muira puama extract in humans. In one, 262 men who had no sexual desire and erectile dysfunction were given the herb. Sixty-two percent of the men with low libido said the herbal extract “had a dynamic effect,” and 51 percent who had erectile problems said the herb was beneficial. (Waynberg 1990) In a second study, 64 of 94 men said that their frequency of intercourse increased significantly after taking muira puama, while 32 of 46 who had reported a weakened desire at the beginning of the study said it had improved. Fifty-two of the 94 men reported that muira puama improved their erectile dysfunction. (Waynberg 1995)
A typical dose is 0.5 to 1.5 grams daily, although there are no clinical studies to support this dose range. Similarly, there is little to no information about side effects related to its use. (Gruenwald 2000)
Gruenwald J ed. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 2nd ed. Montvale NJ: Thomson Medical Economics, 2000, pp. 531-32.
Waynberg J. Aphrodisiacs: contributions 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.
Waynberg J. Male sexual asthenia—interest in a traditional plant-derived medication. Ethnopharmacology, March 1995; www.rain-tree.com/clinic/clinic_a.htm