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What Are the Benefits of Muira Puama?

author image Roger Perez
Roger Perez has been a freelance writer since 2003. He focuses on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle articles, with his work appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM. He also writes for Homeschool Building Blocks, a website for home-schooled children. As a martial artist since 1989, Perez has deep respect for the human body. He holds an Associate of Arts in pre-law from Daytona State College.
What Are the Benefits of Muira Puama?
The bark of certain shrubs such as muira puama have medicinal properties. Photo Credit bark image by Irina Kodentseva from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Muira puama is a shrub that grows in Brazil. Another name for it is "potency wood" due to its reputation as a sexual aid in the Amazon. Many parts of the plant are used, but the most common use by native people is to chew on the bark. Muira puama is marketed in the Western world in the form of teas or capsules and is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This herbal remedy may interact with other medications, so clear its use with your physician before ingesting.

May Relieve Depression

As reported by Life Extension Magazine, muira puama has a long history of use by Amazonian people to treat various maladies. They use it to relieve stress, among other things. A 2008 study by Brazilian researchers comparing muira puama to the antidepressant drug imipramine demonstrated them to be equally effective in relieving the symptoms of depression. Researchers have also found little adverse effects from using muira puama, according to Life Extension. Check with a licensed therapist or your doctor before taking muira puama to relieve depression.

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Can Improve Memory

Life Extension also reports that muira puama might help improve memory among older people. In a 2004 study conducted by Brazilian researchers, aging rats treated with muira puama performed as well as adult mice. Researchers theorize muira puama may be effective due to inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase is an that enzyme breaks down the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine, necessary for memory and cognition. By protecting acetylcholine, muira puama might have therapeutic value for memory or cognition-impaired people. If you're on an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor such as donepezil, consult a physician before taking any natural remedy such as muira puama.

Reputed to Improve Sexual Performance

An article in Nutrition Review says muira puama has long been used as an aphrodisiac in South America. Clinical studies confirm the plant improves sexual function, including the ability to get an erection and arousal. A 1995 study at the Institute of Sexology in Paris under the supervision of Dr. Jacques Waynberg showed significant improvement in 51 percent of participants with erectile dysfunction. Also, 62 percent of the men in the group greatly increased their libido, or sexual desire, according to the researchers. In another study conducted in 1990 by Dr. Waynberg, 66 percent of the men reported an increase in the frequency of sexual intercourse. If you intend to take muira puama to increase your sexual desire or help maintain an erection, consult a licensed health care practitioner first.

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