Alternate Title

  • Pfaffia paniculata

Related Terms

  • Allantoin, Amaranthaceae (family), beta-ecdysterone, beta-sitosterol, β-sitosterol-β-D-glucoside, Brazilian ginseng, butanolic extract, calcium, corango-açu (Brazilian Portuguese), copper, daucosterol, ecdysteroid glucosides, germanium, ginseng brasileiro (Brazilian Portuguese), glycosides, Gomphrena eriantha, Gomphrena paniculata, Hebanthe eriantha, Hebanthe paniculata, Iresine erianthos, Iresine paniculata, Iresine tenuis, iron, magnesium, mart, nortriterpenes, pantothenic acid, para toda, paratudo, pfaffia, Pfaffia eriantha, Pfaffia paniculata, Pfaffia paniculata Kuntze, pfaffic acid, pfaffosides (A-F), phosphorus, phytochemicals, plant sterols, polypodine B, potassium, ptersterone, rubidium, saponins, silica, sitosterol, stigmasterol, stigmasterol-3-o-beta-d-glucoside, stigmasterol-β-D-glucoside, strontium, titanium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, Xeraea paniculata, zinc.

Background

  • Suma is a large, shrubby, ground vine with an extensive root system. It is indigenous to the Amazon basin and other tropical parts of South America. Suma has also been called “the Russian secret,” as it has been taken by Russian Olympic athletes for many years to increase muscle-building and endurance without the side effects associated with anabolic androgenic steroids, such as cardiovascular interactions, increases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and liver disease.
  • Suma has been used historically as a folk remedy for various indications, such as menstrual disorders. It has also been used as a sexual enhancement and as a general tonic. Based on early research, suma may have potential as an anticancer agent. In limited animal study, suma has been shown to have hormonal effects and to increase sexual performance.
  • High-quality human trials supporting the effectiveness of suma for any indication are currently lacking.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    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.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. 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 healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    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)

    • Available dosing regimens for suma are based on tradition, expert opinion, or anecdote; reliable human trials demonstrating the safety or efficacy for any particular dose are currently lacking in the available literature. Based on secondary sources, the following doses of suma have been used: 1 cup of suma root decoction twice daily; 1-2 grams of suma root as capsules twice daily; 2-6 grams of suma root powder daily; 100-250 milligrams of suma extract daily; or 1,000 milligrams of suma daily in divided doses.
    • Based on secondary sources, suma root (taken as two or three cups of tea daily) is prescribed in Brazilian hospitals for cancer and diabetes.
    • Based on secondary sources, 2-4 capsules of suma powder (reportedly equivalent to one tablet of suma powdered extract) or up to a teaspoon of suma powder (as a tea or in food) has been used every hour for an extended period (up to one month or longer); after this initial period, a smaller dose (one dose three or four times a week) may purportedly have the same effect.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

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

Safety

    Disclaimer

    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.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid with known allergy/hypersensitivity to suma, its constituents, or members of the Amaranthaceae family.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • Reliable information regarding the safety and adverse effects of suma is currently lacking in the available literature. Based on secondary sources, suma may cause chest pain, mild gastrointestinal disturbances, and asthma symptoms. Suma may alter estrogen-related processes, such as menstruation.
    • Use cautiously in patients with hormone-sensitive conditions, as suma contains plant sterols, including beta-ecdysterone, stigmasterol, and beta-sitosterol, which theoretically may cause an increase in estrogen or testosterone production).
    • Use cautiously in patients with heart conditions, as secondary sources suggest that suma may cause chest pain.
    • Use cautiously in patients with gastrointestinal disorders, as secondary sources suggest that ingestion of large amounts of plant saponins, naturally occurring chemicals in suma, may cause mild gastric disturbances, including nausea and stomach cramping.
    • Avoid in patients with known allergy/hypersensitivity to suma, its constituents, or members of the Amaranthaceae family.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Suma is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    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

    • Suma may have pain-relieving effects. Use cautiously with agents that also exert pain relief.
    • Suma may have antibacterial effects. Use cautiously with agents that also may have antibacterial activity.
    • Suma may have anti-inflammatory effects. Use cautiously with agents that also may have anti-inflammatory activity.
    • Suma may lower cholesterol levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower cholesterol levels.
    • Suma may exert anticancer effects. Caution is advised when using medications that may also have similar effects.
    • Suma may exert hormonal effects. Caution is advised when using medications that may also have similar effects.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Suma may have pain-relieving effects. Use cautiously with herbs or supplements that also exert pain relief.
    • Suma may have antibacterial effects. Use cautiously with herbs or supplements that also may have antibacterial activity.
    • Suma may have anti-inflammatory effects. Use cautiously with herbs or supplements that also may have anti-inflammatory activity.
    • Suma may lower cholesterol levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower cholesterol levels.
    • Suma may exert anticancer effects. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also have similar effects.
    • Suma may exert hormonal effects. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also have similar effects.

Attribution

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

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    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.

  • Arletti R, Benelli A, Cavazzuti E, et al. Stimulating property of Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata extracts on the sexual-behavior of male rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999 Mar;143(1):15-9.
    View Abstract
  • da Silva TC, Paula da Silva A, Akisue G, et al. Inhibitory effects of Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) on preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions in a mouse hepatocarcinogenesis model. Cancer Lett. 2005 Aug 26;226(2):107-13.
    View Abstract
  • Kim KM, Kwon HS, Jeon SG, et al. Korean ginseng-induced occupational asthma and determination of IgE binding components. J Korean Med Sci. 2008 Apr;23(2):232-5.
    View Abstract
  • Nagamine MK, da Silva TC, Matsuzaki P, et al. Cytotoxic effects of butanolic extract from Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) on cultured human breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2009 Jan;61(1):75-82..
    View Abstract
  • Oshima M, Gu Y. Pfaffia paniculata-induced changes in plasma estradiol-17beta, progesterone and testosterone levels in mice. J Reprod Dev. 2003 Apr;49(2):175-80.
    View Abstract
  • Subiza J, Subiza JL, Escribano PM, et al. Occupational asthma caused by Brazil ginseng dust. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Nov;88(5):731-6.
    View Abstract
  • Watanabe T, Watanabe M, Watanabe Y, et al. Effects of oral administration of Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) on incidence of spontaneous leukemia in AKR/J mice. Cancer Detect Prev. 2000;24(2):173-8.
    View Abstract