Catuaba (Trichilia catigua, Erythroxylum vacciniifolium)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Alkaloids, alkenyl-gamma-lactone, alkyl-gamma-lactones, Anemopaegma arvense, Anemopaegma arvense (Vell.) Stellfeld ex de Souza, Anemopaegma mirandum, angelim-rosa, beta-sitosterol, Bignoniaceae (family), campesterol, caramuru, cataguá, catigua, catiguá, catiguanin A, catiguanin B, catuaba casca, catuabine A, catuabine B, catuabine C, catuabine D, chuchuhuasha, cinchonain Ia, cinchonain Ib, cinchonain Ic, cinchonain Id, epicatechins, Erythroxylaceae (family), Erythroxylum catuaba, Erythroxylum catuaba Arr. Cam., Erythroxylum vacciniifolium, Erythroxylum vacciniifolium Martius, flavan-3-ol type phenylpropanoids, flavialignan, flavonoids, golden trumpet, kandelin A1, omega-phenyl alkanes, omega-phenyl alkanoic acids, omega-phenyl-gamma-lactones, pau de resposta, piratancara, rutin, stigmasterol, tatuaba catagua, Trichilia catigua, Trichilia catigua Adr. Juss., triol alkaloids, tropane alkaloid N-oxide, tropane alkaloids, tropane-1,3-diol, tropanediol.

  • Combination product examples: Catuama® (extracts from Trichilia catigua (catuaba), Paullinia cupana, Ptychopetalum olacoides, and Zingiber officinale); Slimple™ (achiote leaf, Cassia nomame, chuchuhuasi, citrus bioflavonoids, CocaBlast™, glycomacropeptide (GMP), green tea, guggulsterones, lotus leaf extract); Nerviton® (Anemopaegma mirandum (catuaba), Cola nitida (noz de cola), Passiflora alata (maracuja), Paullinia cupana (guarana), Ptychopetalum olacoides (marapuama), and thiamine chlorhydrate).

  • Note: Other extracts called catuaba may be prepared from the bark of trees from the Ilex, Micropholis, Phyllanthus, Secondatia, or Tetragastris genera, and from species from the Myrtaceae (family). Since primary literature on a catuaba extract from these plants was not available, they are not included in this monograph.


  • Catuaba is a term used to describe teas made from the bark of types of Brazilian trees. These trees include Anemopaegma arvense, Anemopaegma mirandum, Erythroxylum vacciniifolium, and Trichilia catigua. Trichilia catigua is a small tree with clusters of yellow flowers.

  • Catuaba has been used in Brazilian folk medicine as an aphrodisiac or an adaptogen (which protects the body from environmental factors). Catuaba may also improve the nervous system, heart and vein function, and memory. It may also increase energy and reduce anxiety or tiredness. Finally, catuaba may treat sexual dysfunction or cancer.

  • The Brazilian herbal medicine Catuama®, a combination of extracts from a species of catuaba, guarana, muira puama, and ginger, has been used. However, at this time evidence that supports the use of catuaba for any condition is lacking.

Scientific Evidence


These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:


The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Adaptogen (protects the body from environmental factors), analgesic (pain reliever), antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, anxiety, aphrodisiac (increases sex drive), cancer, cardiotonic (improves heart health), cardiovascular health (heart health), cognitive improvement (improvement in thinking), energy, erectile dysfunction, fatigue (tiredness), impotence, insecticide, laxative (promotes bowel movement), libido (increased sex drive), memory enhancement, muscle relaxant, nervousness, relaxation, rheumatic disorders (inflammatory disorders), skin irritations, stimulant, stress reduction, tonic, ventricular tachyarrhythmias (fast heart rhythm).


The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Doses of catuaba are based on traditional uses, expert opinion, and reports in which scientific evidence is lacking. Human trials that show safe or effective doses are lacking.

  • To promote sex drive, 1-3 cups of a tea made from the bark of the catuaba tree have been taken by mouth daily for a few days or weeks. Doses of 2-3 milliliters of an alcohol tincture of catuaba have been taken by mouth with breakfast and lunch. Capsules containing 450-1,000 milligrams of catuaba have been taken by mouth. Doses containing 1-2 grams of catuaba have been taken by mouth daily.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for catuaba in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid using catuaba in people with known allergy or sensitivity to Trichilia catigua, Erythroxylum vacciniifolium, their parts, or members of the Erythroxylaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Catuaba may be safely used to increase sex drive in males, but further studies are needed.

  • Information on possible side effects caused by catuaba or Catuama®, which contains extracts from four plants (a species of catuaba, guarana, muira puama, and ginger), is limited.

  • Use cautiously in people receiving squalene-based therapy, since catuaba may reduce the effects of squalene.

  • Avoid using in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to Trichilia catigua, Erythroxylum vacciniifolium, their parts, or members of the Erythroxylaceae family.

  • Avoid using in children, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding, due to a lack of sufficient data.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of catuaba during pregnancy or breastfeeding.


Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Catuaba may interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antidepressants (especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)), anti-inflammatory agents, antiviral agents, cardiovascular agents (agents that affect the heart), erectile dysfunction agents, and squalene.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Catuaba may interact with antibacterial herb and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, antidepressant herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiviral herbs and supplements, cardiovascular herbs and supplements (herbs and supplements that affect the heart), and herbs and supplements used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

  1. Barbosa NR, Fischmann L, Talib LL, et al. Inhibition of platelet phospholipase A2 activity by catuaba extract suggests antiinflammatory properties. Phytother Res 2004;18(11):942-944. View Abstract
  2. Batistini AP, Telles MP, Bertoni BW, et al. Genetic diversity of natural populations of Anemopaegma arvense (Bignoniaceae) in the Cerrado of Sao Paulo State, Brazil. Genet Mol Res 2009;8(1):52-63. View Abstract
  3. Campos MM, Fernandes ES, Ferreira J, et al. Antidepressant-like effects of Trichilia catigua (Catuaba) extract: evidence for dopaminergic-mediated mechanisms. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2005;182(1):45-53. View Abstract
  4. Glasl S, Presser AM, Merner I, et al. Tropane alkaloids from a Brazilian bark traded as “catuaba”. Scientia Pharmaceutica 2003;71(2):113-119.
  5. Kletter C, Glasl S, Presser A, et al. Morphological, chemical and functional analysis of catuaba preparations. Planta Med 2004;70(10):993-1000. View Abstract
  6. Manabe H, Sakagami H, Ishizone H, et al. Effects of catuaba extracts on microbial and HIV infection. In Vivo 1992;6(2):161-165. View Abstract
  7. Milot B. Testing of catuama: a Brazilian herbal energy product. HerbalGram 2005;Fall(68):22.
  8. Oliveira CH, Moraes ME, Moraes MO, et al. Clinical toxicology study of an herbal medicinal extract of Paullinia cupana, Trichilia catigua, Ptychopetalum olacoides and Zingiber officinale (Catuama) in healthy volunteers. Phytother Res 2005;19(1):54-57. View Abstract
  9. Pizzolatti MG, Venson AF, Smania A Jr, et al. Two epimeric flavalignans from Trichilia catigua (Meliaceae) with antimicrobial activity. Z Naturforsch C 2002;57(5-6):483-488. View Abstract
  10. Pontieri V, Neto AS, de Franca Camargo, AF, et al. The herbal drug Catuama reverts and prevents ventricular fibrillation in the isolated rabbit heart. J Electrocardiol 2007;40(6):534-538. View Abstract
  11. Tang W, Hioki H, Harada K, et al. Antioxidant phenylpropanoid-substituted epicatechins from Trichilia catigua. J Nat Prod 2007;70(12):2010-2013. View Abstract
  12. Tabanca N, Pawar RS, Ferreira D, et al. Flavan-3-ol-phenylpropanoid conjugates from Anemopaegma arvense and their antioxidant activities. Planta Med 2007;73(10):1107-1111. View Abstract
  13. Uchino T, Kawahara N, Sekita S, et al. Potent protecting effects of catuaba (Anemopaegma mirandum) extracts against hydroperoxide-induced cytotoxicity. Toxicol In Vitro 2004;18(3):255-263. View Abstract
  14. Zanolari B, Guilet D, Marston A, et al. Methylpyrrole tropane alkaloids from the bark of Erythroxylum vacciniifolium. J Nat Prod 2005;68(8):1153-1158. View Abstract
  15. Zanolari B, Guilet D, Marston A, et al. Tropane alkaloids from the bark of Erythroxylum vacciniifolium. J Nat Prod 2003;66(4):497-502. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.