Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Suma

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About Suma

Suma (Pfaffia paniculata or Hebanthe) is a ground vine that growns in Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. It is often called “Brazilian ginseng” though it is not closely related to ginseng.

It contains up to 11% saponins and 19 different amino acids, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc, B1, B2, and pantothenic acid. It also is one of the highest natural sources of germanium.

It is known as “para todo” meaning “for everything” because of its very broad traditional uses. It is known as a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac, a rejuvenator and energizer, and a balancer of female hormones. Some consider it one of the most effective herbs for erections in men with impotence. It is used for blood sugar, immune function, cancer, nervous system function, menopause syptoms, impotence, and much more.

Suma is available in standard supplement forms and can be made into a tea or decoction.

Benefits of Suma

Suma has a variety of healthful properties including anti-inflammatory activity, supporting circulatory and cardiovascular function, antiviral properties, brain and nervous system support, digestive support, immune boosting functions, and anti-tumor properties.

Blood Sugar

Suma’s ability to balance blood sugar makes it useful for diabetes and hypoglycemia.

Sexual Function and Hormonal Balance

It is widely used as an aphrodisiac and sexual tonic and to help counter sterility. It can balance female hormones and is thus useful in dealing with the symptoms of menopause, and helps reduce the side effects of birth control pills.

Circulatory & Cardiovascular Function

Suma can help carry oxygen to cells due to its germanium component, and has also been shown to inhibit sickling of red blood cells in sickle cell anemia. It can reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and has effects against arteriosclerosis. It cleanses blood and lymph, and its high level of iron makes it beneficial for anemia.

Stress & Fatigue

Suma shows general abilities to restore nervous system function and combat stress, and to reduce chronic fatigue and exhaustion.

Immune Function

Suma boosts immune function, and can reduce the inflammation of arthritis.


Suma is able to purge bile acids and cholesterol by binding with them.


Saponins have been demonstrated to be effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. In fact, saponin derivatives have been patented in the US as anti-tumor agents.

Antiviral and Anti-candida

Suma has shown effectiveness against AIDS symptoms, Epstein-Barr virus, chronic viral infection, and candidiasis.


Inhaling the root powder can cause asthmatic symptoms, so be careful with the loose powder.

Women with estrogen-positive cancers should avoid suma, as its sterols may increase estrogen production or mimic estrogen function.

Sources & Resources

Amazon Herbs A-Z: Herbal Recipes & Remedies, V. Osalina Berman

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch

Planetary Herbology: an Integration of Western Herbs Into the Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Systems, Michael Tierra, David Frawley

Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America, James A. Duke

This post is part of the series: Amazon Rainforest Herbs

Learn about the health benefits of a series of Amazon Rainforest Herbs, based on traditional use in indigenous communities and on research studies.

  1. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Sangre de Drago
  2. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Uña de Gato
  3. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Jatoba
  4. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Suma
  5. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Chanca Piedra (Quebra Pedra)