Native tribes in the basins of Brazil's Amazon River and Venezuela's Orinoco River have used muira puama for various functions, including one that is much-sought-after and seldom found, and inspires widespread attention from around the world: aphrodisia. Also known as potency wood, muira puama is derived from two species of small, shrubby trees in the olive family. Muira puama is a bush / small tree up to 5 meters in height and produces pungent flowers with a jasmine like fragrance. South American Indians make use of it either by chewing the bark or brewing a beverage from the bark, stems, or roots. The bark and root are used to make herbal supplements.
The indigenous tribes in Brazil have used the roots and bark internally in a tea as an aphrodisiac, for treating sexual debility and erectile dysfunction, nervous system disorders, neuralgia, baldness, impotency, gastrointestinal disorders, neuromuscular problems and rheumatism. Women have traditionally used it to alleviate menstrual cramps and discomforts of menopause. Muira puama also has a mildly stimulating effect on some users. It may also be helpful for: stress and anxiety, nervous exhaustion, and mild depression. Murapuama has been used as a herb in Europe for some time and is listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, a source on herbal medicine from the British Herbal Medicine Association, and is recommended for the treatment of dysentery and impotence.
Although many people are skeptical about sexual stimulants or "herbal viagra" as such, the muira puama herb has been shown by Dr. Jacques Waynberg, a world authority on sexual functioning, of the Institute of Sexology in Paris, France, that it is effective in assisting in increasing sexual desire as well as attaining and maintaining an erection. The action of the muira puama herb is not fully understood but it seems to assist with both the psychological as well as the physical aspect of sexual function.
The active constituents in Muira puama are free long-chain fatty acids, sterols, coumarin, alkaloids and essential oils. Chemically, it contains .05% muirapuamine, .4% fat, .5% alkaloids, .6% pholbaphene, .6% alpha-resinic acid, .7% beta resinic acid, .5% of a mixture of esters including behenic acid, lupeol and beta-sitosterol, as well as tannin, volatile oils and fatty acids.