Catuaba (Ceratonia Siliqua) Herbal Medicine

Catuaba Health Benefits, Dosage, Side effects and Warnings.


Scientific Name: Erythroxylum vacciniifolium, Juniperus brasiliensis, Eriotheca candolleana, Trichilia catigua, Anemopaegma mirandum

Other names:

Catuaba, cataguá, catiguá, caramu, chuchuhuasha, pau de repostaru, piratançara, tatuaba, angelim-rosa,

Catuaba is the common name given to a variety of Amazonian trees where the barks are collected and used in Brazilian herbal medicine for sexual dysfunction and as libido enhancer. Erythroxylum vacciniifolium is the more common Catuaba tree. But other trees such as Trichilia catigua, the Juniperus brasiliensis, Eriotherca candolleana and Anemopaegma mirandum are also called Catuaba.

catuaba flowerThe common sources of more effective catuaga barks are the Erythroxylum vacciniifolium and the Trichilia catigua trees. While catuaga barks from Juniperus brasiliensis, Eriotherca candolleana and Anemopaegma mirandum and considered less potent.

The Erythroxylum vacciniifolium is commonly called the small Catuaba tree by Brazilian gatherers. It can only grow to about 2 to 4 meters in height and has yellow orange flowers bearing dark yellow to orange berry-like inedible fruits.

On the other hand, The Trichilia catigua which grows to over 8 meters tall is commonly called the big catuaba tree. Trichilia catigua has dark green oblong leaves, green to red small round clustered fruits and cream-colored flowers.

Catuaba Traditional Medicinal Uses and Health benefits

Active constituents that are found in Catuaba include the following: alkaloids, tannins, aromatic oils and fatty resins, phytosterols, cyclolignans, sequiterpenes, and flavonoids. The combination of these minerals provide the claimed health benefits of Catuaba although limited scientific research would support these claims.

Catuaba can Enhance Sexual Performance

Catuaba's widely known health benefit is it effect to the male reproductive organ. Catuaba tea has long been used in traditional Brazilian medicine as aphrodisiac and as tonic to stimulate the central nervous system. It was widely believed that an infusion of Catuaba bark contains active constituents that can increase male libido, enhance sexual performance and can cure impotency. Although there are no sufficient clinical studies that can back up this claim, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.

Other claimed health benefits from Catuaba

Anxiety. A concoction made from the bark of Catuaba has been used by native Americans as a relaxant to combat anxiety and stress.

Boosts energy. The native Americans used Catuaba to rejuvenate their strength and fight exhaustion.

Induces sleep. Catuaba has a soothing effect that is used to promote sleep associated with insomnia.

Anti-depressant property The native Americans has been using Catuaba to fight depression.

Anti-microbial activity. Catuaba has long been used to treat various skin diseases and believed to have anti-microbial property that prevents infection.

Memory enhancer. A decoction of Catuaba is also being used to counter memory loss and forgetfulness.


Science Research: Catuaba Health Benefits

Catuaba can protect skin cells against cytotoxic activity

In a study published in “Toxicology in Vitro, 2004” entitled “Potent protecting effects of Catuaba (Anemopaegma mirandum) extract1s against hydroperoxide-induced cytotoxicity”, the study showed that Catuaba extract contain active ingredients called cinchonains IIa and IIb that protects the cells from the toxic effects of squalene monohydroperoxide (SQOOH) in rats.

Catuaba has anti-inflammatory health benefit

In a study published in “Phytotherapy Research, 2004” entitled “Inhibition of platelet phospholipase A2 activity by Catuaba extract suggests anti-inflammatory properties”, has shown that the inflammation process, phospholipase A2 (PLA2) catalyses was completely inhibited when Catuaba extract of 120microg/mL was administered to test subjects. The results suggests that Catuaba extract has the potential as a natural anti-inflammatory treatment

Catuaba has promising activity against Parkinson’s disease.

In a study published in the Journal of Brain Research, 2008 entitled “Effects of the extract of Anemopaegma mirandum (Catuaba) on Rotenone-induced apoptosis in human neuroblastomas SH-SY5Y cells” it was found that Catuaba extracts have cytoprotective effects on Rotenone-induced apoptosis in human neuroblastomas SH-SY5Y cells. The results of this study suggest that commercial extracts from Catuaba tree (Anemopaegma mirandum) offers promising activity against Parkinson’s disease.

Catuaba has antidepressant health benefit

In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2005 entitled “Antidepressant-like effects of Trichilia catigua (Catuaba) extract: evidence for dopaminergic-mediated mechanisms”, showed that there is a convincing evidence for the dopamine-mediated antidepressant-like effect of the active principle(s) present in the hydroalcoholic extract of Trichilias catigua in mice and rats when in vivo and in vitro strategies were employed. This study further suggests that a standardized T. catigua extract or its purified constituents can be of potential interest for the treatment of depressive disorders.

Catuaba has Antimicrobial and HIV protective activity

In a study published in the International Journal of Experimental and Clinical Pathophysiology and Drug Research, 1992, entitled “Effects of Catuaba extracts on microbial and HIV infection” have shown that the pretreatment of mice with hot water and alkaline extracts of Catuaba casca (Erythroxylum Catuaba Arr. Cam.) effectively protected the mice from lethal infection of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The Catuaba extracts significantly inhibited both the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-induced cytopathic effect and the expression of HIV antigen in HIV-1HTLV-IIIB or HIV-2ROD infected human lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1) positive MT-4 cells.


How to Get and How to Use

Where can I get or buy Catuaba?

Catuaba tree can be cultivated for its bark. There are few trees found in the wild in Southern Americas particular in Brazil but most likely not easy to find. Best to settle for the commercial preparations that can be bought in supermarkets or health stores.

Catuaba is commercially prepared in powder, capsules, dried wild bark, fluid extracts and in tincture forms. Catuaba products are vailable in most fitness and health stores. Catuaba is also available online via Amazon as listed: Natural Brazilian Catuaba, there are other brands to select from, be sure to select one from a reputable manufacturer and do follow the suggested dosage.

Catuaba tea or decoction. tea

  1. Prepare about half teaspoon of dried Catuaba bark for every cup of water.
  2. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes
  3. Let it steep and strain
  4. Store in a glass jar for later consumption
  5. Drink 1 cup, twice to three times a day after meals.

You can add other herbs or honey to improve the efficacy and taste.

Dosage, Warnings and Side Effects


Amazon natives traditional drinks Catuaba tea 1 to 3 cups a day to enhance sexual desire.

Commercially marketed Catuaba tincture and capsules are of differing concentrations. Follow the directions as instructed in the labels.

Side effects

Studies and reports are insufficient to establish Catuaba side effects for adults.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There are no sufficient studies done to determine the safe use of Catuaba herbal medicine during pregnancy and breast feeding. It is best to avoid its use.


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