Catuaba bark (Trichilia catigua, Erythroxylum catuaba)
Catuaba is the name given to the bark harvested from large trees in the Amazon Rainforests of South America which is used for its energizing and libido enhancing qualities. In Brazilian herbal medicine, Catuaba bark is considered a central nervous system stimulant with aphrodisiac properties, and is used to promote sexual health, serenity, comfort, and memory.
Catuaba is one of my all time favorite herbs for mood, whether in the sack or working in the office trying to avoid a heart attack, it adds a level of euphoria and bliss that is unlike any other herbal I have encountered. It is the first line go to herb when it comes to dopamine enhancement. Catuaba is safe, has a dose dependent activity curve, is non-stimulatory, and can become extremely euphoric given time, especially as it tunes one into a state where it could be considered “always turned on”, be it mentally, or physically, within the bodies means of course.
Catuaba is a dopamine re-uptake inhibitor. Another herb that shares this property is coca leaf, however the actives in coca leaf also affect norepinephrine (nor-adrenaline), and serotonin, meaning coca has SSNRI type effects mixed with the DRI (Dopamine reuptake inhibiting) properties that it shares with catuaba. Catuaba does cause a release of serotonin, but only at half potency relative to dopamine. There is minimal to zero adrenal action at the norepinephrine sites however. Some even find the herb calming and a great ally for reducing anxiety while improving mood. It certainly isn’t a sedative either. Very unique herb and one of my favorites. I like compounding it with another bark from the Amazon, muira puama, which I will expand on in a later post.
Catuaba being non-stimulatory in nature means that the effects may be hard to pinpoint for first timers. I recommend daily use, by day 3 most tend to notice the mood lift, some do by day 1 however. For hard heads, and for stimulant lovers in general, catuaba can be enhanced and does enhance the effects of anything that works on dopamine, meaning it will greatly synergize with caffeine containing herbs, turning them from mostly pure stimulants into now mild to moderate strength euphoric stimulants. My favorite is guayusa, another leaf from the amazon, boasting claims as high as 7% caffeine. Guayusa is relaxing too however, thanks to its respectable content of l-theanine, which makes it a good addition to catuaba, them both being amazon rainforest herbs aside.
Properly identified and active Catuaba bark can be found at Meridian Botanicals here
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