Catuaba bark is the bark of a small tree that is indigenous to Brazil. While the fruit of the tree is inedible, the bark is a traditional herbal remedy used in South America and increasingly in other parts of the world. Catuaba bark has a somewhat bitter, though not particularly unpleasant, taste and can be prepared as either an herbal tea or tincture or ground and then packed into capsules. Catuaba bark is best known for its alleged efficacy as an aphrodisiac and is also said to be a good general tonic, have antibiotic and antiviral properties, and is sometimes used as a treatment for anxiety.
While catuaba bark, also known as pau de reposta or tatuaba, is used for a variety of purposes and is being researched as a possible HIV preventative, it is best known as a sexual enhancement herb. The efficacy of catuaba for sexual improvement is said to have been discovered by the Tupi tribe, who began to offer it in trade. As a result, the use of catuaba bark as an aphrodisiac and sexual pleasure enhancer spread throughout Brazil.
The demand for both female and male enhancement herbs in many countries outside Brazil has resulted in the increased use of catuaba as a dietary supplement. In fact, many health stores now carry herbal supplements that feature catuaba bark as an ingredient. In Brazil, catuaba is often blended with another aphrodisiac herb, muira-puama, to create a tincture. Some users include catuaba bark in homemade cordials and beers.
Traditional use of caduaba bark often included treatment for impotence, but it may also enhance tactile sensation, thus making sexual activity more pleasant for its users. While many women use catuaba, men seem to report the strongest effects. Other uses of catauba bark include treatment for a variety of nervous disorders, including anxiety, and perhaps paradoxically, lethargy. It is considered a mild stimulant of the central nervous system. It has not been the subject of many scientific studies, and there are few, if any, reported side effects.