Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth.

Last updated: 4 Nov 2016

Scientific Name

Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth.


No documentation

Vernacular Name

English Maripuama, muira-puama, muira puama wood, muira-puam, muirae puama [1].

Geographical Distributions                                                                

Ptychopetalum olacoides can be found in Brazil and Amazon rainforest. [2]

Botanical Description

P. olacoides is a member of the family of Olacaceae. It is a small tree that grows to 5-8 meter high. [3]

The flower is small and white in colour and they smell like jasmine. [3]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

P. olacoides root bark has been reported to contain α-pinene, α-humulene, β-pinene, β-caryophyllene, camphene, camphor, uncosanoic, tricosanoic, pentacosanoic acids, coumarin, fatty acid esters of sterols, free fatty acids, and free sterols. P. olacoides also contains a small amount of β-sitosterol in both free and bound forms. Alkaloids have been detected but not fully characterized. A lipophilic constituent has also been found in the bark and was identified as lupeol. [4]

Plant Part Used

Bark, root. [5]

Traditional Use

P. olacoides is known throughout Brazil, primarily for its effects on the human reproductive system. Either used singularly or in a compound, the roots and bark of this tree have been thought to increase the sex drive of both men and women [5]. Typically, a powder, infusion or decoction is administered orally in a majority of cases of sexual dysfunction [6].

P. olacoides is thought to be effective in treating male impotence. In some native tribes of Brazil, affected individuals would immerse their genital area into a highly concentrated decoction to achieve the same effect with the belief that it would enhance their sexual ability [5]. Additionally, P. olacoides has been used in cases of infrequent menstruation in women [7].

P. olacoides has been used traditionally in Brazil in order to treat some gastrointestinal disorders. In cases of dyspepsia [7], indigestion, loss of appetite [8], and has been viewed as a stomach tonic [9].

Preclinical Data


Antidepressant activity

In a laboratory study, administration of P. olacoides extract to laboratory animals reduced free-radical production in the hypothalamus, lead to significant decrease in lipid peroxidation in the cerebral cortex, striatum and hypothalamus, as well as in the carbonyl content in cerebellum and striatum, suggesting that P. olacoides contains compounds able to improve the cellular antioxidant network efficacy in the brain, ultimately reducing the damage caused by oxidative stress [10]. Another laboratory study also found that P. olacoides extract may help decrease destruction of brain cells after stroke through antioxidant support [11].

Neuroprotective activity

The neuroprotective uses of P. olacoides also may help in depression and mood disorders. Consistent with traditional use in depression, a laboratory animal study found that an extract of P. olacoides possessed antidepressant-like effects, possibly mediated by activity at beta-adrenergic and D(1) dopamine receptors [12]. Another laboratory study found that extracts of P. olacoides also alter serotonin levels, acting as an agonist at 5HT(2A) serotonin receptors [13].

Laboratory studies have found that P. olacoides extracts have antistress properties, termed adaptogenic [14][15]. An adaptogen is a substance that helps the body “adapt” to various stressors, including physical, mental and emotional. P. olacoides has been reported in a laboratory study to prevent stress-induced hypothalamic pituitary axis (HPA) hyperactivity. The HPA axis is a complex set of interactions between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain and the adrenal glands at the top of each kidney. The HPA axis helps regulate things such as your temperature, digestion, immune system, mood, sexuality and energy usage, and is a major part of the system that controls your reaction to stress, trauma and injury. Chronic imbalances in the HPA axis can lead to many health problems such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune conditions, depression and mood disorders, sleep problems and immune imbalances like cancer [16].

Laboratory studies have reported that extracts of miura puama have neuroprotective activity. The proposed mechanisms of neuroprotection includes inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity which may help lead to improved memory and cognition [17][18]. Another laboratory study found the neuroprotective qualities of P. olacoides may be related to an increase in nerve growth factor (NGF), leading to an increased survival of nerve cells during stressful situations [19].


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

A combination of P. olacoides (4:1w/v) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) was administered to 202 healthy women complaining of low sex drive [20]. The subjects were asked about various aspects of their sex life and were rated before and after 1 month of treatment. Responses to the self-assessment questionnaires reported significantly higher average total scores of sexual health from baseline in 65% of the sample after taking the P. olacoides /ginkgo extract. Improvement in frequency of sexual desires, sexual intercourse, and sexual fantasies, as well as in satisfaction with sex life, intensity of sexual desires, excitement of fantasies, ability to reach orgasm, and intensity of orgasm was reported [21].


No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. Ulbricht CE. Natural standard herb & supplement guide: An evidence-based reference. St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby Elsevier, 2010; p. 516.
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC World dictionary of plant names: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2000; p. 777.
  3. Puri RK, Puri R. Natural aphrodisiacs: Myth or reality. Bloomington, Indiana: Xlibris; 2011.
  4. Sigma Aldrich Plant Profiler. Muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides). [homepage on the Internet]. c2010 [cited 2016 Nov 1]. Available from:
  5. Pierce A. The American Pharmaceutical Association practical guide to natural medicines. New York: William Morrow; 1999.
  6. Tillotson AK, Abel R. The one earth herbal sourcebook. New York: Kensington Press; 2001.
  7. Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler's honest herbal: A sensible guide to the use of herbs and related remedies. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press; 1999.
  8. Duke JA. The green pharmacy herbal handbook. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale; 2000.
  9. Duke JA. Medicinal plants of Latin America. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2009; p. 413.
  10. Siqueira IR, Fochesatto C, Torres IL, et. al. Antioxidant activities of Ptychopetalum olacoides ("muirapuama") in mice brain. Phytomedicine. 2007;14(11):763-769.
  11. Siqueira IR, Cimarosti H, Fochesatto C, et al. Neuroprotective effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Olacaceae) on oxygen and glucose deprivation induced damage in rat hippocampal slices. Life Sci. 2004;75(15):1897-1906.
  12. Piato AL, Rizon LP, Martins BS, et al. Antidepressant profile of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Marapuama) in mice. Phytother Res. 2009;23(4):519-524.
  13. da Silva AL, Ferreira JG, da Silva Martins B, et al. Serotonin receptors contribute to the promnesic effects of P. olacoides(Marapuama). Physiol Behav. 2008;95(1-2):88-92.
  14. da Silva AL, Bardini S, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. Anxiogenic properties of Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth. (Marapuama). Phytother Res. 2002;16(3):223-226.
  15. Piato AL, Detanico BC, Linck VM, Herrmann AP, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. Anti-stress effects of the "tonic" Ptychopetalum olacoides (Marapuama) in mice. Phytomedicine. 2010; 17(3-4):248-253.
  16. Piato AL, Detanico BC, Jesus JF, Lhullier FL, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky EJ. Effects of Marapuama in the chronic mild stress model: further indication of antidepressant properties. Ethnopharmacol. 2008;118(2):300-304.
  17. Siqueira IR, Fochesatto C, da Silva AL, Nunes DS, Battastini AM, Netto CA, Elisabetsky E. Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian "nerve tonic", possesses anticholinesterase activity. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003;75(3):645-650.
  18. da Silva AL, Piato AL, Ferreira JG, Martins BS, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. Promnesic effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides in aversive and non-aversive learning paradigms. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;109(3):449-457.
  19. Tang W, Kubo M, Harada K, Hioki H, Fukuyama Y. Novel NGF-potentiating diterpenoids from a Brazilian medicinal plant, Ptychopetalum olacoides. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2009;19(3):882-886.
  20. Waynberg J, Brewer S. Effects of Herbal vX on libido and sexual activity in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Adv Ther. 2000;17(5):255-262.
  21. Paiva LAF, Rao VSN, Silveiera ER. Effects of Ptychopetalum olacoides extract on mouse behaviour in forced swimming and open field tests. Phytotherapy Research. 1998;12(4):294-296.