In North American herbal medicine, suma root is used as an adaptogenic and regenerative tonic regulating many systems of the body; as an immunostimulant; to manage exhaustion and chronic fatigue, impotence, arthritis, anemia, diabetes, cancer, tumors, mononucleosis, high blood pressure, PMS, menopause, and hormonal disorders, and many types of stress.
Amazon ginseng, Para todo, Brazilian ginseng, Brazilian ginseng, pfaffia, para toda
It is indigenous to the Amazon basin area and other tropical parts of Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay Peru and Venezuela. The genus Pfaffia is well known in Central and South America with over 50 species of Pfaffia growing in the warmer tropical regions of the area.
In South America, Suma is known as Para Toda which means “for all things” and as Brazilian Ginseng since it is widely used as an adaptogen for many things, much like regular ginseng. The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon region who named it Para Toda, have used the root of Suma for generations for a wide variety of things including a general tonic, energy and rejuvenating tonic as well as a general cure-all for many types of illnesses.
Suma is a large, rambling, shrubby ground vine with an intricate, deep, and extensive root system. It is indigenous to the Amazon basin and other tropical parts of (southern) Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. The genus Pfaffia is well known in Central and South America, with over 50 species growing in the warmer tropical regions. Suma is a fibrous root with thick bark and lush foliage that grows in the Amazon jungles
adaptogen, tonic, aphrodisiac, steroidal, immunostimulant
general tonic, muscle growth, hormonal disorders, chronic fatigue and general tiredness, sexual disorders, sickle cell anemia
Suma has been taken by Russian Olympic athletes for many years and has been reported to increase muscle-building and endurance without the side effects associated with steroids. This action is attributed to an anabolic type phytochemical called beta-ecdysterone and three novel ecdysteroid glycosides that are found in high amounts in suma.
Suma has been used by South American Herbalists for sexual dysfunction and now, in a 1999 clinical study that a suma root extract was able to increase the sexual performance in healthy, sexually sluggish and impotent rats. In 2001, a U.S. patent was filed on a multi-plant combination containing suma for sexual enhancement in humans. The patent indicated that the suma extract tested increased sexual performance and function.
In a double-blind placebo human study, they reported that 15 patients taking suma root for three months (1000 mg three times daily) increased hemoglobin levels, inhibited red blood cell sickling and, generally, improved their physical condition by reducing side effects during the treatment. These results were statistically higher than the 15 other patients on placebo. Unfortunately, once treatment was discontinued, symptoms and blood parameters returned to their pretreated state within 3-6 months. It was reported, however, that several patients in the study remained on the suma supplement for three years or longer. They reportedly maintained consistent improvement and a higher quality of life with no side effects.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Root: 7,500 – 10,000mg (as a decoction)
• Dried Powder: 2,000 – 4,000mg
• Tincture: 2 – 4mL (1:1)
Women with estrogen-positive cancers should avoid the use of this plant.
Some may find higher doses irritating to the stomach; consuming it soon before or after a meal will reduce this effect.
Interactions with other drugs
- Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine (2nd American ed.). New York: DK Pub.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- Taylor, L. (2005). The healing power of rainforest herbs: a guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.
- Tierra, M., & Frawley, D. (1988). Planetary Herbology: an integration of Western herbs into the traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic systems (1st ed.). Twin Lakes, Wis.: Lotus Press.
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