Catuaba (powder, drink): what it is, what it is for and effects

Catuaba is a name that has been heard a lot recently. It was mainly at the carnivals that the drink gained space and won over the public’s palate.

Although it sounds new to some consumers, catuaba has been known for a long time – born in 1992, Catuaba Selvagem is one of the most famous brands of alcoholic beverages, if not the most.

Cheap, easy to find and with a sweet taste, the liquid compost has only grown in recent years and has won over loyal fans. The proof of this is that in 2016 the brand reached the levels of 2.6 million liters of commercialized drink.

But anyone who associates the name catuaba only with alcohol may not know that the substance is, in fact, a plant. More specifically, a naturally Brazilian shrub , growing in areas of the cerrado and Atlantic forest.

However, those who choose the industrialized product will find, in addition to catuaba, a mix of ingredients, such as sugar, guarana extracts, marapuama, alcohol and wine.

But there is no original recipe and each brand can vary the recipe, including apple syrup and other additives.

Some suggest that the drink has invigorating, aphrodisiac and stimulating properties. Therefore, its consumption – as an alcoholic drink or as tea – could increase sexual appetite, increase libido and improve the senses.

What is catuaba?

The herb is actually a mixture of several plants – between root, stem and leaves -, belonging to the same family, the Erythroxylaceae .

For medicinal purposes, the most used species is about 10 meters tall, with white and yellowish flowers, with grayish bark.

In addition, the plant has lenticels, which are irregularities in the stem, rounded and small. Externally, the plant is reddish in color, and may vary in lighter or darker intensities.

Generally, its use is associated with the therapeutic purposes used in popular traditions. In addition to digestive, diuretic, expectorant and revitalizing, some people attribute stimulating and aphrodisiac capabilities to the plant.

The name has uncertain origins. Some indicate that catuaba is the result of catuçaba , a name given by the indigenous people, which would mean “what gives strength”.

Regardless of the nomenclature, the plant has permeated traditions and cultures for decades and continues to be consumed by the indication of its stimulating action.

But in addition to the reputation of awakening desires, it is suggested that the plant has several beneficial effects, such as sleep regulator, antidepressant and infection inhibitor.

Studies on the efficiency of the plant are still scarce and are unable to confirm the benefits of its consumption for impotence or as a stimulant.

Other names of catuaba include:

  • Catuaba-Marapuama;
  • Catuaba-Selvagem;
  • Catuabinha;
  • Caramuru;
  • Tattoo;
  • Rosemary-do-campo;
  • Real Catuaba;
  • Catuaba-pau.

What is catuaba for?

In general, the plant is present in popular traditions and, currently, it is becoming popular due to the high commercialization of the alcoholic version, mainly in social environments and parties.

It is important to note that there are few studies on the effectiveness of the plant, especially in humans. From a study published by Unicamp, components capable of stimulating muscle relaxation and, in a light way, sexual erection were identified.

However, the effects of the substance are still poorly studied and investigated by medical science. Especially since most evaluations are carried out with animals.

But, according to herbal medicine traditions and jobs, catuaba can be highly beneficial and stimulating.

No humor

It is believed that catuaba, mainly the bark, has effects on mood, helping in the regulation and stabilization of nervous disorders.

Psychological problems and dysfunctions can be alleviated with regular consumption of catuaba tea. But its effect is quick and short-lived, so it acts more like a stimulant.

In the hair

With the growing popularity of the plant and the spread of its energizing fame, aesthetic and cosmetic products for hair began to integrate the substance in formulas for shampoos and treatment creams.

The products can be found in commercial pharmacies and cosmetic stores, with varying prices.

In general, a portion of catuaba extract is used in order to enhance the revitalizing properties of the shampoo or cream.

The indications are for lifeless, weakened or fragile hair.

The extract of catuaba, in general, is just a compound added in the formulation and does not alter the common use of the product. Therefore, the use can be daily or alternate, without harming the scalp.

Sexual health

Improving sexual potency, increasing libido and favoring sensory stimuli are caused by the natural stimulant, which are perhaps the most attributed benefits to catuaba.

Some animal studies suggest that consuming catuaba dilates blood vessels and promotes circulation. As the dilation of the vessels favors erection in men, this may be one of the possible origins of the reputation of sexual stimulator.

In the brain

It is pointed out that catuaba has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, being effective in protecting the nervous system.

In addition, it can prevent or delay premature aging, improving aspects related to memory, concentration and learning.

In the immune system

Due to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory indications, the consumption of catuaba can help in strengthening the immune system, preventing inflammation and infections.

In the heart

As the plant favors circulation, cardioprotective properties are also attributed to it. The substance could then assist in strengthening the heart, favoring the dilation of blood vessels.

With improved blood circulation, there is a reduction in blood pressure, resulting in lower cardiac risks.

Parkinson’s symptoms

It is suggested that catuaba has antidegenerative effects, delaying premature aging and acting as an antioxidant. As Parkinson’s disease presents with neurological cell degeneration, the signs can be mitigated with regular consumption of catuaba.

Due to the energetic action, the plant can also function as a mental stimulant, helping in reading and logical reasoning, for example.

These practices can have positive effects in cases of reduced mental, neurological and nervous system disorders.

Improved PMS

There are reports that catuaba can help with hormonal regulation and decrease the effects of PMS. As it can also help with mood stabilization, the plant is used by women who suffer from intense premenstrual tension.

Medicinal properties

Despite the greatest popular references being aphrodisiacs and against sexual impotence, herbal indications and studies (studies of plants for medicinal applications) attribute other uses to catuaba.

Among the most recurring and most sought after are the effects:

  • Ansiolítico;
  • Digestive;
  • Diuretic;
  • General stimulant;
  • Expectorante;
  • Hair tonic;
  • Vasodilatador.

Is Catuaba an aphrodisiac?

One of the most talked about and disseminated properties of the plant – whether in the alcoholic version or in tea – is its aphrodisiac power. Popularly, it is attributed to the plant properties capable of increasing libido and sexual stimuli.

The fame is not recent, since the stimulating effects are brought about by the use of indigenous peoples, who attributed to the plant the ability to make men more virile and powerful.

Recent studies by the Federal University of Santa Catarina point out that there may be stimulating properties in catuaba, due to the dilation of blood vessels, but that its effect is not immediate.

Research that discuss aphrodisiac properties is quite inconclusive and even controversial.

While some researchers point to the ability of some foods to bring out the senses and pleasures, other experts suggest that this may be due to the properties of the food in stimulating blood flow and, along with the pleasant taste and aroma, elevating pleasurable perceptions.

In addition, catuaba in alcoholic version can have its aphrodisiac power coming from exactly the alcoholic content, which causes disinhibition and relaxation.

Catuaba ingredients

While the powder or the catuaba plant does not provide significant amounts of calories and carbohydrates , alcoholic beverages have high energy values.

This is due to alcohol, sugars and additives that are mixed with catuaba.

But each brand of the alcoholic version has a slightly different recipe. Most are made up of red wine, apple juice, guarana, marapuama, catuaba and lots of sugar.

A glass of the drink can offer 226 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrates, in the original version.

The most popular brand, Catuaba Selvagem, also offers some variations of the drink, with Selvagem with Açaí , Piña Colada flavor and Lemon and Honey, which contains other preservatives and flavorings of lemon, condensed milk, for example.

The versions are more sweet and have approximately the same alcohol content.

Is Catuaba wine?

But be it in the original alcoholic version – which is a little drier and less sweetened – or in the special versions, the drink has a good percentage of wine.

For those who like sweeter drinks, generally, Catuaba Selvagem with açaí is more chosen. Its composition includes high levels of sugar and açaí, which helps to sweeten the flavor.

So catuaba cannot be considered exactly a wine, but a variation or compound of it.

How to consume?

Catuaba can be found in natural and herbal products. There are several options that include leaves, capsules and powder, in addition to the alcoholic compound.

Catuaba tea

For tea it is necessary to bring half a liter of water to the fire. After boiling, add 2 tablespoons of leaves and catuaba bark and let the tea boil for 3 minutes.

To extract the properties of the plant well, it is necessary for the catuaba to be infused for another 10 minutes. After that, just strain and drink afterwards or throughout the day.

The recommendation is to eat between 2 and 3 cups daily.

Catuaba capsules

Any use of supplements should be recommended or accompanied by a health professional, even if the product is of natural origin.

There are options available for catuaba capsules that can be taken daily in recommended dosages according to the health professional and the manufacturer. But in general, the recommendation is 1 or 2 capsules a day.

There are still other products that combine some substances with catuaba, increasing or potentiating the energetic effects. Among the added components can be guarana, marapuama, caffeine and açaí.

There are also energy drinks that add catuaba as a secondary ingredient (with small concentrations), for example Guaraná Arrebite Extract with Catuaba.

Catuaba powder

The parts of the catuaba (leaves, roots and stem) are dried and ground until a fine powder is obtained. The product can be mixed in juices, foods, such as yoghurts, fruits or in the preparation of meals.

It is also possible to dissolve the powder in water or boil it for drinking as tea.

In general, the powdered product tends to have fewer gastric reactions because it does not need the gelatinous coating of the capsule, which can be the cause of stomach pains.

However, some people may experience slight changes in the taste and consistency of food or drinks when adding powder.

The extract can be added to food twice a day or diluted with water and ingested in the morning, in the amount of approximately 5g or 1 teaspoon.

Alcoholic beverage

Drinks can be ingested neat or mixed, making up a drink. In general, alcoholic catuaba, consumed pure, is served at room temperature or cold.

Some variations can mix the drink with fruits, in adaptations of caipirinhas, or with other distillates.

It is noteworthy that the frequent or excessive consumption of alcohol is bad for your health and can cause damage to the body . In addition to the alcohol content, industrialized drinks have high levels of sugar and preservatives that, in excess, can be harmful.

Catuaba tincture

There are products that are extracts specially developed for hair. The compound acts as a hair tonic.

Just as the powder and tea versions promise, the catuaba dye is used to give more life to the hair, strengthen and invigorate the threads.

The product should be applied 1 time a day, before bedtime, directly on the scalp, followed by a light capillary massage.

Costing an average of 5 reais, the compound is found in herbal pharmacies and natural and aesthetic products.

Side effects

The consumption of catuaba in plants does not present very severe side effects, considering the reports available.

People who are more sensitive to the substance may have allergies , headaches and stomach irritation.

In addition, there may be the presence of mood swings, with signs of agitation and irritation. Symptoms tend to be quickly alleviated and ingestion should be discontinued.

When consuming catuaba in capsules, stomach pains due to the presence of gelatin or silicone in the capsule may manifest itself.

In the case of cosmetic products, one must be aware of possible allergies to catuaba or the other components of the formula.

For this, it is always recommended to carry out an allergic test before starting use with any different product or substance.

The allergy test can be done at home, with the application of a small amount of the product on the forearm region. You should wait 24 hours and observe the region at that time, checking for changes in the skin, redness or itching.

Alcoholic version

Although quite popular at parties, even being called the drink of love, the consumption of alcoholic catuaba should be moderate.

The plant does not cause intense or dangerous side effects, according to research, but the effects of excess alcohol are very harmful to the body.

The most immediate effects of excess alcohol include restlessness, dehydration, gastric changes and loss of consciousness.

Because it is more sweet, catuaba can favor excessive consumption. But it is worth remembering that the alcohol content of the drink is quite high.

The more pleasant flavor of the drink allows it to be consumed pure (instead of being combined with other non-alcoholic drinks, such as juices or soft drinks). Therefore, there is a tendency to drink larger amounts of alcohol.

Even if you have high sugar levels, high consumption can cause hypoglycemia and lead to alcoholic coma.

Consuming alcohol frequently can increase the risk of cancer , liver cirrhosis and changes in the heart.

Contraindications

People who have heart problems, urinary disorders, such as urine retention, in addition to glaucoma , should not use any derivative of catuaba.

In addition, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use any substance without the doctor’s knowledge.

Children under the age of 12 and patients taking continuous medications should consult a specialist before ingesting or consuming catuaba.

Food and drug interaction

Teas and capsules have no interactions with other drugs or substances, in the reports made. However, catuaba is widely consumed in the alcoholic version and, due to the action of alcohol, may have its effects increased.

The interaction with alcohol favors organic changes, causing the body to elevate or mitigate the deeds.

In addition, the drink is generally consumed with other energetic and stimulating substances, such as guarana and caffeine. Together, they can cause high agitation, nausea and tachycardia.

Curiosities about catuaba

The success of the wild catuaba

The base of the drink is red wine. But apple syrup, guarana and marapuama are added, in addition to high amounts of sugar.

Although sweet, wild catuaba has 16% alcohol content , a very high value. An average beer has 4.5% alcohol.

The price of the drink is also more popular than most wines or spirits, varying between 8 and 15 reais, on average – a factor that helped in popularization, especially among younger people.

Catuaba Selvagem, a commercial brand, emerged in 1992, but it was in recent years that its popularity rose. Despite having other competitors in the market, it is generally Selvagens that comes to consumers first.

Perhaps to take advantage of the plant’s aphrodisiac attributions, Catuaba Selvagem launched itself on the market reinforcing its association with sexuality and sensuality.

For that, the name was inspired by the movie Instinto Selvagem. For those who do not remember or do not know, the movie classic featured Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone and was one of the most successful films of the time.

The identity

The packaging illustration, or logo, is the drink icon. Produced by José Benício, a prestigious Brazilian illustrator, the reference was inspired by Conan, a heroic and strong character. The drawing sketches a couple and refers to strong, energetic and manly elements.

But it is not just a call to strength and energy, as the illustration refers to a moment of seduction.

The success and recognition of the logo was such that, even with more than 20 years in the market, Catuaba Selvagem chose not to change its identity and reproduces the original illustration on its packaging.

Little has changed in the more than 2 decades of drinking. The recipe and brand identity remain true to those that were marketed years ago.

What underwent slight changes was the shape of the bottle, but the company points out that there was a good reason: with the popularization of the drink and a change in consumer habits, catuaba began to be drunk directly from the bottle, mainly at open events and at road.

Thus, the company sought to adapt the packaging format to facilitate handling and direct consumption of the product.

Catuaba treats impotence?

A recent study by the Federal University of Santa Catarina indicates that catuaba has vasodilating properties.

The action on the body, then, can favor sexual improvements, as it improves blood supply to the penis, helping with erection.

What is the effect of alcoholic catuaba?

The effects are the same as other alcoholic beverages. The high alcohol content can cause the signs of drunkenness to appear quickly.

Despite being made up of wine, the beverages sold do not have a single recipe and mix different preservatives and additives. This makes the effects on the following day more accentuated than those of pure wine, for example.

bone catulovers

The drink has such a loyal audience that, in recent years, groups and communities of “catulovers” have been formed. Yes, passionate about catuaba.

Especially at carnival, a time when the drink has a high consumption, social networks present several affective manifestations to the drink, different drink tips that have been tested and approved, in addition to reports on the supposed aphrodisiac powers.


Catuaba is a plant well known in indigenous traditions and herbal uses (herbal treatments). Consumed as a sexual stimulant, aphrodisiac and libido stimulant, the plant gained more space through the alcoholic version.

While some people continue to resort to the plant for the benefits that are traditionally attributed to it, few scientific studies have been developed in order to prove the effects on the organism.

However, its moderate consumption in the form of tea or supplement can be associated with healthy lifestyle habits, as long as indicated by a health specialist.

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