What Is Muira Puama?

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Muira Puama is a plant found in the Amazon that was used to treat different central nervous disorders as a nerve tonic. Today it is marketed as a sexual aid for men and less so as an antioxidant. Information regarding it is easily found as to how to prepare it in a very crude extract form from the plant to reportedly reduce body fat and maintain lean muscle mass. The National Institutes of Health published a 2007 study on its antioxidant effect in mice brains. A separate study published in 1988, showed ingesting muira puama resulted in a loss of five percent body fat and 15 pound lean muscle weight gain in one male study participant.

Identification

Muira puama is also known as Marapuama, by its Latin name, Ptychopetalum olacoides extract and its root is called Liriosma ovata. Traditionally, muira puama might be prepared from the bark and used to treat cardiac and gastrointestinal weakness, or beri-beri, paralysis, rheumatism, menstrual discomfort, infertility or impotence.

Types

Muira puama is generally available as an alcohol or in tablets or capsules. Common name brands include: LifePlus Circulation Formula. NOW Men's Virility Power, Radiance Ultra Vita Man and Vitamin World Ultra Vita Man (timed release).

To date, reported side effects are stomach upset and diarrhea.

Benefits

In one NIH study with mice, muira puama showed antioxidant effects. In a different study, a male study participant, 45 years old and 105 pounds, took 50 to 100 mg of muira puama twice a day. After three months, he went from 18 to 15 percent body fat and gained 15 pounds of lean muscle mass. This study suggests supplementing with muira puama may result in antioxidant effects and the ability to reduce body fat and retain lean muscle mass. NIH did a review in 2003 of herbal supplements used for sexual enhancements and found their claims could not be substantiated. The researchers concluded more rigorous studies needed to be done.

Misconceptions

: Muira puama has a “street reputation” as a sexual aid for men. While it is very easy to purchase it online or in a health food store, the National Institutes of Health have reviewed muira puama and other herbal supplements commonly reported to be useful as a sexual aid—only to conclude that these claims cannot be supported. The potential side effects are minor but worth noting. The misconception here is that using muira puama extract or bark will be like yohimbe, another bark, to see an immediate increased response in sexual vigor. According to the NIH, this may not be the case. Buyer beware.

Warning

Do not take muira puama supplements for any reason until you consult your physician. If you have any chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease or diabetes, do not take muira puama without medical clearance.

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