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Make Way for Brazilian Madness - The Catuaba


Tall and tan and young and handsome
The boy from Ipanema goes walking
And when he passes, each girl he passes goes ahah
When he walks, he's like a samba
He swings so cool and sways so gently
That when he passes, each girl he passes goes ahah
                                                                                          --“The Boy From Ipanema,” original song lyrics by Antonio Carlos Jobim

The wistful lines from that famous lounge song will make a lot more sense after you read this, trust me. We’re going to talk about another amazing natural remedy for the lackluster sex life.  Specifically we’re going to look at an herb that does a very good job at providing men with harder, longer-lasting erections.  But just as going through the motions of having sex like we were crossing off items on a Daily To-Do List would be boring, so too would bullet-pointing out the features of another sex-enhancing herb be a dry affair.
With that in mind, let’s add a little context to our sexual text, shall we?
American culture is the result of many influences from around the world.  From its origins America has become what it is through diverse people, cultures, lifestyles, religions, sciences, and products.  This is no less true in the world of medicine and specifically herbal remedies. 
In that light, one could argue that everything on the American market today, from Japanese manufactured automobiles to Chinese cuisine to Columbian imported coffee, is at once International and also American.  America is a model of the world, composed of the world.  Or, as author Neil Gaiman puts forth in his great novel, American Gods,
No one is American, not originally.
Every aspect of our waking lives is influenced by traditions that have washed up on our shores, so why should our sex lives be any different?  India gave us the first and greatest sex guide, the Kama Sutra.  Ancient Egyptian culture gave us the first dildos and vibrators.  The French gave us Menage A Trois, or at least coined the phrase.  If the only truly American American cuisine is the hamburger (and of that I am suspicious), then perhaps the only truly American contribution to our sex lives is Playboy Magazine.  Interesting that Playboy, a revolutionary lifestyle periodical was launched by Hugh Hefner, who in his old age has become a poster boy for erectile drug if there ever was one. 
But, as one researcher noted, erectile drug, for all its success, is not without side effects, and has caused hundreds of deaths.  For better or worse, erectile drug and Hef’s mag have spurred a growing national interest in natural alternative solutions for the libido and erectile dysfunction.
Lucky for us, before there was Playboy, before there was the Kama Sutra, there was Catuaba, aka Brazilian Erectile drug.
Just as we have studied Ginseng in the context of China and Ashwagandha in the context of India, let’s look at Catuaba in the context of Brazil.  Along with its internationally renowned cuisine, music, dance, and travel destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, where the swimsuits are small and bodies are beautiful.  Indeed, Brazil is one of the most progressive cultures in the world when it comes to sexuality.  Famous for its Carnival holiday, which, as any search on the Internet will show you, takes the celebration of passion and sex to whole new levels. 
Brazil is also one of the few countries in the world to sponsor free HIV medicine for its citizens, which is progressive in more ways than one.  Personally, I have never been to Brazil, but I did read John Updike’s novel “Brazil” some years ago and I’m pretty sure few pieces of literature capture the passion and danger of a country as well as this erotically-charged love story. 
So then, aside from hot nights, beautiful beaches, and spicy dance numbers, what else is powering this throbbing culture? 
Catuaba, of course!
Catuaba is a medium-sized tree native to the Amazon Rain Forest that produces pretty yellow and orange flowers, and small, oval, dark yellow fruit.  It is used in Brazilian herbal medicine and as a common consumer good to stimulate the central nervous system. Catuaba (L. Juniperus brasiliansis) is a member of the family Erythroxylaceae, under the genus Erythroxylon, which includes several species that are the source of cocaine.  Catuaba, however, contains none of the active cocaine-alkaloids, and has been used for thousands of years by Amazon Native Indians, and hundreds of years by the modern world. 
With fewer reported side effects than the coffee we drink everyday, Catuaba is a true Brazilian staple.  In fact, coffee and tea bars in Brazil regularly serve Catuaba drinks, sometimes labeled “Super Sex Drink” or “Brazilian Erectile drug,” Catuaba drinks are popular with citizens who seek not only a better sex life, but a little more get-up-and-go for their daily working routines.
Like its herbal counterparts around the world, Catuaba is known to treat a handful of ailments:  nervousness, poor memory, insomnia, hypertension, hypochondria, and as a pain reliever where pain symptoms are directly related to the central nervous system.  But even more than herbs such as Tongkat Ali and Ashwagandha, Catuaba is famous for its efficacy as an aphrodisiac.  People don’t just recommend Catuaba; they positively rave about it.  They say Catuaba is a superior sexual enhancer for men and women, but by most accounts, it truly shines in the arena of erectile dysfunction (ED).   Rich in active phytochemicals (naturally occurring biochemicals that give plants their color, flavor, smell, and texture) that occur naturally in this plant, the bark is used to distill or extract into beverages that provide hard results.
You know an herb has truly arrived when it has spawned its own proverb (what we Americans call a slogan), and Catuaba’s goes like this:
Until a father reaches 60, the son is his; after that, the son is catuaba’s!
As a marketing statement, it needs some polishing, but you get the point.  When consuming Catuaba, the old are said to feel young again, and perform like a young man as well.

U.S. sponsored scientific studies on the Catuaba plant are harder to come by (expect that to change as the popularity increases), but Catuaba is one of the few natural remedies to have secured a U.S. patent.  Granted in 2002 to a group of Brazilian researchers for a Catuaba bark extract (Trichilia catigua), the patent refers to animal studies it conducted that reported a vasodilating, vasorelaxant, and analgesic effect in rats, rabbits and guinea pigs.  Other reports in scientific journals and at medical conferences have supported its use for libido-enhancing, erection summoning uses. Primarily responsible are a group of three alkaloids, dubbed catuabine A, B and C, which directly stimulate the nervous system.  One study concluded that out of 265 men who used Catuaba, just over 64% experienced a stronger libido (sexual urges, or sex drive) and 50% experienced faster, fuller erections.  Because it does not seem to be directly hormone-related, meaning to stimulate the production of one specific hormone or another, Catuaba is perhaps more of an “equal opportunity” aphrodisiac.  It works well in both men and women.
With regular use, Catuaba is also said to increase the amount of erotic thoughts and even dreams one experiences.  Not a bad side effect, in this author’s humble opinion.
Meanwhile, in the greatest cultural melting pot of all, New York City, there is a place Catuaba drinkers will feel right at home.  Down in Union Square plaza, there is a wonderful 24-hour restaurant and bar called simply “The Coffee Shop”.  What is responsible for drawing young and sexy New Yorkers from all over the world are its wait staff of provocatively clad aspiring models, a gigantic s-shaped bar, a menu that features authentic Brazilian dishes like Eggs Ipanema, and frequent live Brazilian musical guests (usually led by a beautiful woman covering “The Boy From Ipanema”). 
It was one of my favorite haunts during the 2 short years I lived in the city, and night or day it was tantalizing to say the least.  I wonder now if there was something more to the Coffee Shop scene, some Brazilian secret I had not yet discovered.  At any rate, that place was the closest I had come to experiencing the excitement of Brazilian culture.
That is, until I discovered Catuaba, of course.  While my thoughts drift back to that place where the women are more than just women and the coffee, for those in the know, is more than just coffee, I’ll leave you here to discover Catuaba for yourself.
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