I’ve been writing about possible testosterone boosters, and I’ve found some stunning results–as with fenugreek. I’ve also identified a few duds, where it may be that there is actually a testosterone reduction. That’s why it’s always of the highest importance that I dig as far down the rabbit hole on an ingredient as I can go–sometimes combing through decades of research across dozens of papers.
In the case of the Brazilian herb Muira Puama (sometimes spelled as one word), it has become clear that most of the evidence for its testosterone boosting comes from its aphrodisiac qualities.
✲ There appears to be an echo chamber, with most sources quoting the same two or three original sources; most of them quote that Muira Puama has “libido” benefits.
✲ No source, to date, has tested for or proven a testosterone boost.
✲ One source claims that some Muira Puama compounds can raise testosterone, but whether Muira Puama contains those compounds remains debatable.
What Data there Is
I’ve searched extensively for any trace of a study showing Muira Puama and testosterone, and could only find studies that either mention it having no effect whatsoever, and only in passing, or stating that its compounds may increase testosterone. Combing through the rest of the literature–which I don’t have space to link to here–there are various claims of the bark and roots of the Muira Puama tree being an aphrodisiac–but these claims aren’t linked to any credible studies.
The second study I mentioned, which claimed the compounds of Muira Puama have testosterone boosting effects, cited a source itself which is now only available as a web archive–and that archived page actually says there is no physical bioactivity of any component of Muira Puama.
The compounds listed as testosterone boosters are: lupol [sic, lupeol], campesterol, and sitosterol.
There is no evidence that lupeol or campesterol increase testosterone, but there are some studies showing a testosterone boost with sitosterol–trouble is, that study was of saw palmetto. A second problem is that there are also studies showing no benefit of sitosterol.
Perhaps the biggest problem, number three, is that I’ve looked at dozens of chemical analyses of Muira Puama, and couldn’t find any mention of lupeol, campesterol, or sitosterol. One Brazilian study did find sterols, the general class of chemicals to which the others belong, but the other study only looked for (and found) flavonoids.
These were the most detailed chemical studies of Muira Puama I could find, and neither mentioned any link to testosterone production or retention. A trusted drug information database I have found to be accurate also listed several compounds found in Muira Puama–with none of the supposed testosterone boosters named.
Lastly, though I don’t like to use studies like these very often, I did find a clinical trial of a proprietary supplement. The trial supplement did include Muira Puama (under its scientific name, Ptychopetalum olacoides): no testosterone increases were found.
How Myths are Formed… Conclusion
In the age of the internet, it only takes one or two references to outdated, unsourced material for the echoes to start reverberating across articles and reviews. In fact, fighting this sort of misinformation is one key reason I’m glad to do this work.
With Muira Puama, one example of the game of telephone that’s playing out is this scanned magazine article from almost twenty years ago. Articles like this use lots of scientific words in garbled sentences that make it seem as if there is health benefit, when in fact, none has been established by any study or trial.
In short, as of the date of this article, there is no credible scientific data supporting the idea that Muira Puama can increase testosterone, either whole or any of its extracts.