Chuchuhuasi: An Amazonian love potion for Valentine's Day

As Valentine’s Day gets ever closer, people’s minds turn to love. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a good love potion? That’s where Chuchuhuasi comes in. This Amazon tree bark is legendary for enhancing sexual desire and function. In a previous FOX article, I wrote about Chuchuhuasi as a pain reliever - but the bark is also a significant mojo booster as well.

Chuchuhuasi (Maytenus krokovii) is a very large Amazonian rainforest tree that grows as high as 90 feet. The reddish bark has been used for centuries as a general tonic medicine, and the bark shows up in a variety of commonly used folk medicines, including the famous “Seven Roots Love Tonic.” Oddly, the herbs in the seven roots tonic are not roots.

That error aside, many Amazonian people drink a small shot of the tonic every morning, for stamina and endurance, to relieve an aching back, and to preserve and promote libido and sexual function. The roots’ tonic is usually preserved in local sugarcane rum or some other pleasant alcohol. One popular Peruvian brand of this is available online. You might enjoy getting this in time to sample with your partner for Valentine ’s Day.

A subject of scientific scrutiny since the 1930s, Chuchuhuasi has been studied in laboratories in the U.S., Japan, Spain and Italy. Nicole Maxwell, author of the 1961 book Witch Doctor's Apprentice, who explored the Amazon in search of cures in the 1950s, remarked that Chuchuhuasi “is probably the best known of all jungle remedies… and is aphrodisiac…best of all antirheumatic medicines.”

What makes this tree bark an aphrodisiac? It’s somewhat hard to say, as no human studies have been published on this effect – even though numerous studies have been published on the anti-cancer, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and stimulant effects of Chuchuhuasi. But it is to the latter activity that we can look for guidance. Typically, stimulant or “tonic” plants impart some sort of sex-enhancing effect. We see this with Ginseng, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, Maca, and others.

The alkaloids in Chuchuhuasi are stimulants and are especially helpful in relieving fatigue. In fact, when a person in the Amazon is fatigued or is recovering from an illness or injury that has sapped their strength and energy, Chuchuhuasi is one of the most widely recommended agents for recovery. And that recovery includes re-gaining lost libido and sexual function.

The most common traditional method for consuming Chuchuhuasi, other than in the Seven Roots Tonic, is by making a simple decoction. Take a small handful of chipped bark pieces, and either boil them for a few minutes – or put them in a pot or cup and pour boiling water on them and let them steep. In short, the bark is consumed as an herbal tea. While many herbal teas are tough to choke down, Chuchuhuasi is quite pleasant, imparting a mild woody flavor. You can brew up your own Chuchuhuasi tea and experience its effects. Sunfood has a good product.

In Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, Chuchuhuasi is a legendary tonic and aphrodisiac. It is widely used by middle-aged men and women to extend sexual function, at an age when such function tends to flag. The bark is often also combined with other tonic herbs, much in the same way that many herbs are combined in the Indian Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicinal traditions. The synergy between various herbs can enhance a particular effect.

Try this: Get some of the root tonic or the tea, and set the Valentine’s Day scene with pleasant light, music and other comforts. Enjoy the drink, and enjoy the stimulating, pleasant sensations that ensue. Used for centuries by hundreds of thousands of native people, Chuchuhuasi has earned its sex-enhancing reputation by working, even if we don’t fully understand how this effect is achieved. On the high holy day of love, try it for yourself and experience what natives in the Amazon have known for a long, long time.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at