Also known as
Trichilia catigua, Anemopegma mirandum, angelim-rosa, caramuru, catagu, catigu, catigua, chuchuhuasha, pau de reposta, or tatuaba.
Catuaba (pronounced kot-chew-BAH) is a smaller flowering tree of the Amazon jungle related to the coca plant but producing none of the alkaloids found in cocaine. It bears orange and yellow flowers that produce a yellowish-brown, inedible fruit. The Tupi tribe in northern Brazil discovered the aphrodisiac qualities of catuaba several hundred years ago. Trading the herb throughout South America, the Tupis have made catuaba the most popular of all the Amazonian aphrodisiac plants. Its use is so prevalent as an aphrodisiac in Brazil that there is a popular saying that goes until a father is 60, the son is his: after that the son is Catuaba.
Some varieties of catuaba contain yohimbine. The antibacterial constituent of the herb is cinchonain. Also contained are fatty acids, phytosterols, and antioxidant flavonoids.
Catuaba is used in capsules, teas, and tinctures.
The native peoples of the Amazon who use catuaba combine it with muira puama, allowing the mixture to stand in warm water overnight to make an amber medicinal infusion. There is laboratory evidence that catuaba enhances male sexual performance by increasing the brain’s sensitivity to dopamine, making the sex act more pleasurable, as well as by vasodilation, enhancing erectile strength. The aphrodisiac qualities are said to be beneficial not only to men, but women as well. In 2002, a Brazilian company was awarded a patent for an HIV prevention formula based on an extract of the herb, although research is still in progress. Catuaba is also said to help in calming nerves, reducing anxiety, and help to overcome general exhaustion and fatigue.
No toxicity studies have been done at this time but the long history of use in Brazil shows no reported ill effects.