Botanical: Pfaffia paniculata
Family: Amaranthaceae - Amaranth
Other common names: Pfaffia, Para Todo, Amazon Ginseng, Brazilian Ginseng, Brazilian Carrots
With a common name, Para Todo, meaning "for everything," there is a hint of just how much benefit Suma Root may be to your health. Often called a South American version of ginseng, it has become a popular herbal tonic that is used to bolster the immune system and to fight temporary depression and fatigue. Try it for Epstein-Barr Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; it may make a difference and add zip and stamina to a tired body.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Suma Root was first discovered for its exceptional medicinal qualities by the native Indian tribes of Brazil, who used the bark, berries, leaves and roots of the plant as a cure-all - "para todo" or "para tudo," meaning "for everything." It is a large, rambling, shrubby ground vine with an intricate, deep and extensive root system and may be indigenous to the Amazon basin and other tropical parts of Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Suma Root has recently gained great worldwide popularity as a treatment for exhaustion and lack of stamina. It is found in the ravines of the upper Amazon rainforest; and besides its use as the herb that will be of help "for all ailments," it has also long been used as an important herbal remedy by the native population of Brazil for the treatment of wounds, skin problems, lack of energy, ulcers and as an aphrodisiac and relaxant. In modern Brazilian herbal medicine practices, Suma Root is employed as a cellular oxygenator and taken to stimulate appetite and circulation, increase estrogen production, balance blood sugar levels, enhance the immune system, strengthen the muscular system, increase energy levels and enhance memory. Some of the constituents in Suma include saponins, (including pfaffic acid), as well as derivatives therefrom that have been patented in Japan in anti-tumor drugs. Research in Japan (in 2000) reported that natural Suma Root displayed anti-cancerous activity as well. In this in vivo study, powdered Suma Root was reported to inhibit the proliferation of lymphoma and leukemia in mice and, otherwise, delay mortality. Although this antiproliferative effect slowed the growth of these malignant cells, it did not eradicate them. Also included in Suma Root are nineteen different amino acids, a large number of electrolytes, trace minerals, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, E, K and pantothenic acid, plus beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, allantoin, germanium, silica, glycosides, nortriterpenes and beta-ecdysterone.
Suma is considered a tonic and an "adaptogen," an agent that normalizes bodily functions during stressful situations that might alter those functions, helping the body to adapt and return to an overall sense of well-being. It is regarded as an excellent tonic for recovering convalescents.
Suma Root is used to treat exhaustion resulting from debilitating viral infections, such as Epstein-Barr disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is a tonic that is helpful to people who are recovering from the flu, as well as anyone else who lacks energy and stamina. The herb helps to increase stamina, promotes healthy energy levels and combats the effects of fatigue and stress. Interestingly, Suma has also been called "the Russian secret," as it has been taken by Russian Olympic athletes for its muscle-building and endurance-enhancing benefits, without the side effects associated with steroids. This action is attributed to an anabolic-type phytochemical called beta-ecdysterone and three novel ecdysteroid glycosides that are found in high amounts in Suma.
The native tribes of the Amazon rain forest have used Suma for at least three hundred years as an effective aphrodisiac, and it is believed to help restore sexual function in both men and women.
Suma is said to bolster and strengthen the immune system (especially a weakened immune system) and may be helpful in alleviating some of the effects associated with AIDS and and other wasting illnesses.
As an anti-inflammatory, Suma is thought to be of help in easing the pain and inflammation of arthritis and other joint discomforts.
Suma is said to fortify hormones (especially estrogen) and has been effective as a tonic for the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and emotional swings. This same quality is believed to alleviate the discomforts of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It has been included in the folk medicine of several rainforest tribes (and still is) as a calming agent.
The beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol content in Suma are thought to be beneficial in supporting healthy cholesterol levels in the blood and may be helpful in combating high blood pressure.
In 1995, a U.S. patent was filed claiming some beneficial effects of Suma Root against Sickle-Cell Anemia. In a double blind placebo human study, patients taking Suma Root for three months increased hemoglobin levels, inhibited red blood cell sickling and, generally, improved their physical condition by reducing side effects during the treatment.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use Suma Root Herbal Supplement. Since Suma may have estrogen-like effects, it should not be used by those with estrogen-positive cancers.