The aboriginal groups of the Amazon have been using Catuaba for centuries as an aphrodisiac, but it’s also used in the treatment of fatigue, insomnia, hypochondria, impotence, erectile dysfunction and sciatica. It also helps with concentration and provides natural energy and immune support.
Its medical properties extend even farther, as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. It helps dilate and strengthen the arteries and improves circulation. Its chemical composition includes tannins, phyto-chemicals, and flavonoids for super antioxidant prowess. More recently, studies show that Catuaba extract strengthens blood cells and helps them fight off all kinds of pathogens, including the HIV virus.
Brazilian herbalists believe that the composition or color of a fruit or herb, or the color of its extract, indicates the organ upon which it operates -- the organ to be cured or remedied. The extract of Catuaba bark is red, which links it to the blood, liver and circulatory system. Just drop a small piece into a cup of hot water and watch it turn as red as the fires of passion.
Catuaba is a tree that grows in the Northern Amazon and in some northern states in Brazil. It has yellow and orange flowers and bears an oval-shaped, yellowish-brown fruit. It belongs to the Erythroxilaceae family and its bark is where the powerful alkaloid Erythoxilum is concentrated, with its uncommon antiviral and antibacterial qualities.
In Brazil, you can find Catuaba infused with wine and sold in supermarkets. It’s very popular among young Brazilian couples. You can also find it in capsules, either alone or in combination with other herbs, and sold either as a sexual stimulant or just as a general energy formula.
Does it really work as an aphrodisiac? Well, one time my husband was traveling in the Pantanal region of Brazil and found a traditional aphrodisiac formula of the local Tupis people, which contained Catuaba, among other ingredients. All I can tell you is, those Tupis sure know their plants.
Story by Edna Sousa for Waterside Syndication