It has been proposed that the name of this species should be changed. Botanists seem agreed that it should be transferred to the genus Hebanthe, but there is disagreement over which specific name it should have. Some botanists favour Hebanthe erianthos (Poir.) Pedersen, whilst others favour Hebanthe paniculata Mart. Until a final decision is made, we will continue using Pfaffia as the generic name[
Gomphrena eriantha (Poir.) Moq.
Gomphrena paniculata (Mart.) Moq.
Hebanthe erianthos (Poir.) Pedersen
Hebanthe paniculata Mart.
Iresine erianthos Poir.
Iresine paniculata (Mart.) Spreng.
Iresine tenuis Suess.
Pfaffia eriantha Kuntze
Xeraea paniculata (Mart.) Kuntze
Common Name: Pfaffia
Pfaffia is a large, rambling, shrubby ground vine with an intricate, deep, and extensive root system[
A very important medicinal herb, it is harvested from the wild and exported to many countries.
S. America - Amazon rainforest in Brazil to Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay Peru and Venezuela
Pfaffia root is a very important medicinal herb with a very long history of traditional use amongst the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region[
]. Regarded as a general cure-all, it was and is used as a tonic and rejuvenating herb to treat a wide range of illnesses and restore virility to the body[
In modern herbal medicine the root is considered to be an adaptogen and a tonic, able to increase the body's resistance to adverse influences by a wide range of physical, chemical, and biochemical factors and having a normalizing or restorative effect on the body as a whole[
]. It is taken to stimulate appetite and circulation; increase oestrogen production; balance blood sugar levels; enhance the immune system; strengthen the muscular system; enhance memory; and as a general restorative tonic after illness[
It is used to treat exhaustion and chronic fatigue; impotence; arthritis; anaemia; diabetes; cancer; high blood pressure; PMS, menopause, and hormonal disorders; and many types of stress[
The root contains 19 different amino acids, a large number of electrolytes, trace minerals, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, E,
, and pantothenic acid. Its high germanium content probably accounts for its properties as an oxygenator at the cellular level; its high iron content may account for its traditional use for anaemia. The root also contains novel phytochemicals including saponins, pfaffic acids, glycosides, and nortriterpenes[
Saponins are well known to have a wide spectrum of activities including lowering blood cholesterol; inhibiting cancer cell growth; and acting as antifungal and antibacterial agents[
]. They are also known as natural detergent and foaming agents[
]. Phytochemists report that saponins can act by binding with bile acids and cholesterol. It is thought that these chemicals 'clean' or purge these fatty compounds from the body (thus lowering blood cholesterol levels)[
The specific saponins found in the roots of suma include a group of novel phytochemicals named pfaffosides. These saponins have clinically demonstrated the ability to inhibit tumour cell melanomas and help to regulate blood sugar levels[
Pfaffia has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities in various studies[
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