Ease your depression with an herb from the rainforest

Muira puama, Ptychopetalum olacoides, also called “potency wood,” is a small tree that grows to 5 meters high and is native to the Brazilian Amazon and other parts of the Amazon rainforest. The small, white flowers have a pungent fragrance similar to jasmine. It is a well-liked herbal supplement in Europe as well as North and South Americas.

Historically, this herb was used by native tribes as an aphrodisiac and to treat impotence. Muira puama has also been used as a tonic for nervous conditions, gastrointestinal disturbances, nerve pain and depression. Women have used muira puama to treat the effects of menopause, as well as menstrual cramping.

Indigenous tribes in South America have taken this herbal supplement by chewing the bark or brewing a tea using the bark, stems or roots. The common dosage used today is 1 to 1.5 grams of the bark, stem, and/or root. Muira puama is also available as an extract or in powdered form in capsules.

Scientists studying this plant have determined that the root and bark of muira puama are loaded with free long-chain fatty acids, essential oils, plant sterols, coumarin, lupeol, and an alkaloid named muirapuamine. In addition, muira puama has been listed in the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia since the 1950s and is also listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (a noted herbal medicine source from the British Herbal Medicine Association).

Of course, consult a health care professional before using any dietary supplement.

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