As the world’s most diverse tropical rainforest, the Amazon is home to thousands of unique plant species. While many of the rainforest’s flora boast broad branches and towering trunks, the Amazon’s warm and humid climate also plays host to a range of smaller, less prominent plants — including Muira Puama.
Often known by its botanical name, Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth, Muira Puama has fascinated locals for hundreds of years. Generations of South Americans have attributed various properties to Muira Puama bark, employing it as an aphrodisiac, energy booster, and pain reliever.
Today’s researchers have conducted thorough Muira Puama reviews in the interest of dissolving the mystery behind this timeless botanical. Their efforts have unearthed some answers — as well as many more questions.
What is Muira Puama?
Muira Puama — also known as marapuama, muirapuama, and mirantã — is a flowering plant in the Olacaceae family. Physically, this South American herb is a small tree that can reach up to fourteen feet in height at maturity. It bears bright green leaves with darker brown undersides and small, lightly-colored flowers.
Although Muira Puama reviews have found that the plant’s roots, leaves, and stems all possess psychoactive properties, most interest centers around the tree’s bark. Aside from being nutritionally dense, Muira Puama bark contains a diverse selection of naturally beneficial chemicals and compounds.
As a result, Muira Puama bark has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including upset stomachs, joint pain (rheumatism), menstrual disorders, paralysis caused by polio, and poor appetite.
Most Muira Puama is sold as a shredded or powdered bark product. However, other product forms — such as leaf and root powders — are also available.
Applications & Uses
Although researchers have spent decades evaluating Muira Puama’s traditional uses, other studies have sought to explore the plant’s future applications.
Muira Puama in the Treatment of Aging-Related Disorders
Alzheimer’s disease is a destructive and pervasive illness in today’s world. The disease — which typically progresses slowly — causes memory loss and mental impairment. One emerging treatment of Alzheimer’s disease revolves around inhibiting an enzyme in the body called acetylcholinesterase (AChE). However, most AChE inhibitors developed so far have many adverse side effects.
Fortunately, in one Muira Puama review, a team of researchers observed that Amazonian populations had been using Muira Puama as a traditional remedy for various aging-related conditions. Curious to see if the plant could be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the authors conducted a study to evaluate its effectiveness.
In their Muira Puama research, the team found that a Muira Puama extract “significantly inhibited AChE activity” in an in-vitro rodent study, suggesting that the traditional applications of Muira Puama in aging-related conditions have scientific merit. As a result, the plant could play a prominent future role in Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
Muira Puama Review: Adaptogenic Qualities
Stress is a natural response to various circumstances in life. However, prolonged stress can wreak havoc on the body and lead to imbalanced hormone levels, fatigue, and reduced quality of life. Thankfully, some botanicals have adaptogenic properties — meaning that they can help our bodies adapt during stressful periods.
In this Muira Puama research study, researchers evaluated the adaptogenic potential of Muira Puama bark and several other plants native to Brazil. They concluded that Muira Puama displayed “adaptogen-like effects,” including anti-stress and memory enhancement. However, they affirmed that more Muira Puama reviews — especially clinical trials — would be necessary to confirm the plant’s adaptogenic qualities.
Risks & Safety
Although Muira Puama bark possesses many beneficial properties, researchers still don’t fully understand the plant’s short-term and long-term side effects. While some users have reported mild side effects like insomnia, upset stomach, and headaches, emerging research suggests that usage of the plant isn’t entirely consequence-free.
In one Muira Puama review, researchers observed the plant’s effects by administering a Muira Puama root extract to rodents. After receiving the extract dose, the rodents displayed “decreased exploratory behavior,” although their locomotion and motor coordination were unaffected. The authors concluded that Muira Puama appears to increase anxiety — a common side effect of energy-boosting substances.
In contrast, a separate team of Muira Puama researchers made a different conclusion on the topic of Muira Puama bark and anxiety in 2010. They concluded that “[Muira Puama] counteracts some of the effects brought about by chronic stress.”
Regulation & Legality
As of this writing, Muira Puama appears to be legal to buy, sell, grow, and distribute in the majority of the world. Although various governments have prohibited similar botanicals, it’s unlikely that Muira Puama will be regulated, controlled, or illegalized anytime soon, as current scientific Muira Puama reviews haven’t established that the plant poses a threat to human health and safety.
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