Catuaba (Trichilia catigua)


Catuaba Overview:

Catuaba is the common name for a group of plants in the Amazon rainforest, the main two, Erythroxylum catuaba and Trichilia catigua are the most common.

Big catuaba, (Trichilia catigua), is both the most commonly used species, and the most relevant for the actions catuaba is traditionally used for, which is why The Sunlight Experiment considers this species the official catuaba species.

Trichilia catigua is a tall tree with dark, aromatic bark. This bark is used to treat age-related cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and male sexual dysfunction.

+ Indications

  • Hyperactivity
  • Nervousness
  • Nerve pain and weakness
  • Poor memory
  • Insomnia
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Depression
  • General pain
  • Nerve pain (such as neuralgia, sciatica)
  • Age-related cognitive decline
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Dementia
  • Poor libido
  • Hypochondria
  • Fatigue

+ Contraindications

Avoid use if taking other antidepressants.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Nervine
  • Antidepressant
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Anodyne
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Vasodilator
  • Dopaminergic
  • Antineoplastic
  • Antinflammatory

Main Uses:

The main uses for catuaba include treating male sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction or poor libido, age-related cognitive decline, depression, nerve pain, fatigue, and anxiety.


Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:1

2-5 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:1

15-35 mL


Part Used


Family Name



South America (Amazon Rainforest)

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Constituents of Interest

  • Omega-phenyl-alkanes

Common Names

  • Big Catuaba
  • Cataguá
  • Chuchuasha
  • Tatuaba
  • Pau de Reposta
  • Caramuru
  • Catigua

Botanical Info:

Trichilia catigua is a member of the meliaceae family (Mohogany family). This family contains about 600 species, separated into 53 genera, all spread out across the tropics. Other members of this family include neem, Carapa, Spanish-Cedar, and Toona.


Clinical Applications Of Catuaba:

Catuaba is useful for treating depression, and is a good option when other, more mainstream treatments fail. Catuaba works off the dopamine system rather than serotonin which is the most common mechanism of action for most antidepressants. In several studies, catuaba has been shown to provide a similar level of efficacy to fluoxetine and St johns Wort towards depression.

Catuaba is also highly useful for treating male sexual dysfunctions of all kinds, likely relating to the dopaminergic action as well. Additionally, though Catuaba is not considered a cognitive enhancer it has been shown to improve age-related memory loss, or cognitive decline, which was in fact one of its main traditional uses.



No known interactions, however, due to its dopaminergic action, it is wise to avoid combining catuaba with other dopaminergic medications. Medical advice recommended if currently taking antidepressants before using catuaba.


Recommended Products Containing Catuaba:

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Catuaba Combination Extract

Secrets Of The Tribe

Made from a combination of Trichilia catigua and Erythroxylum vacciniifolium

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Catuaba bark Powder

Herb Complex

Made from wildcrafted Trichilia catigua bark

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Catuaba Powder

Bulk Supplements

Made from Trichilia catigua bark

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For a list of references for this work, visit the full catuaba monograph.