One of the most popular and enduring uses of this herb is as a remedy for arthritis and the pain and swelling associated with rheumatism. In Peruvian herbal medicine systems, Chuchuhuasi alchohol extracts are used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
The bark is rich in several alkaloids, tannins, triterpenes and sesquiterpenes, and it is thought that the pyridine alkaloids in the bark may be primarily responsible for its anti-arthritic effects.
In a study by ”Sphinx Phatmaceuticals” of Durham, North Carolina, Chuchuhuasi bark was found to contain agents that inhibit the action of protein kinase C (PKC). Evidence suggests that over production of PKC is implicated in many degenerative and inflammatory diseases. It is thought that the ability of Chuchuhuasi to inhibit its activity is partly responsible for its effectiveness in the treatment of arthritis.
Chuchuhuasi is also powerfully anti-inflammatory, and an analysis of its chemical properties was conducted by a team of scientists back in 1982 to establish the active principles of this herb. They concluded: “The presence of phenoldienones (tingenone, 22-hydroxytingenone), a catechin (4′-methyl-(-)-epigallocatechin) and proanthocyanidins (Ouratea-proanthocyanidins A and B) was established. The biological activities of these compounds confirm the properties of the extracts of the plant claimed by traditional medicine.”
In layman’s terms, the combination of the PKC inhibition, coupled with the anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties of this herb make it a potent natural remedy for relief from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Sometimes referred to as “Brazilian Ginseng”, Chuchuhuasi is classed as an adaptogen – a specific class of herbs that help to balance, restore and protect the body from external stressors, ranging from extremes in temperature to colds, infections, trauma and stress.
Chuchuhuasi’s adaptogenic qualities allow it to function as an “immunomodulator”, meaning it can either up-regulate or down-regulate the immune system in response to external stimuli. It helps to recharge exhausted adrenal glands as when these glands become overtaxed it can lead to a cascade of systems breaking down within the body.
Chuchuhuasi is a powerful vasodilator and improves blood flow to the pelvic area and reproductive organs. To this day, many Amazonian people drink a shot of Chuchuhuasi tonic each morning to promote stamina, sexual function and the libido.
Whilst its aphrodisiac effect is yet to be pinned down to one or two specific compounds, it seems that many of the alkaloids found in this plant are stimulants that aid in the recovery of a lost libido and boost sexual function. Coupled with its ability to stimulate blood flow to the sexual organs, this might explain why Chuchuhuasi is widely used by middle aged men to enhance virility, prolong erections and as a cure for impotence.
The ability of Chuchuhuasi to function as an adaptogen makes it effective to tone, balance and strengthen female hormonal systems. It is an emmenogogue (menstrual stimulant), and can bring regularity to irregular periods. It can also be used to ease menstrual pains and cramps due to its muscle relaxant properties.