The principal use of the catuaba is in the role of an herbal aphrodisiac, to treat impotence and prostatitis in men. Some of the beneficial effects of the catuaba remedy for the specific health conditions are: HIV / AIDS. Catuaba is the first herbal remedy investigated by scientist as possessing some beneficial effect against the HIV. The results of scientific studies conducted in Japan have shown that remedies made from the catuaba inhibit the ability of the HIV to cause destruction of cells. The study also found that the herbal remedy actually protected people with full blown AIDS against the infection from opportunistic pathogens such as Escherichia coli - E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus - such an infection would be dangerous from the point of view of the patient with a crippled immune system as all AIDS patients invariably are. The main strategy to use the catuaba is as a defense against opportunistic pathogens that take advantage of the crippled immune system of the patient, the herb is not intended to be the primary treatment for AIDS. The catuaba herb is also effective in the treatment of impotence and prostatitis that affects many men. In the traditional herbal lore of Brazil, catuaba is the most potent aphrodisiac herb, it is reputed for its unique ability to strengthen and prolong erections in men. The indigenous natives of the Brazilian rain forest such as the Tupi people were the first ones to discover the sexual stimulating abilities of this herb, and as a result, they have even recorded its special qualities in tribal songs. The use of the catuaba is said to bring on an increase in incidences of erotic dreaming and is also said to increase the sexual interest felt by the person. Some other properties of this herb are its ability to normalize the functioning of the prostate gland and to prevent the re-infection of the prostate with the E. coli bacterium.
The chemical analysis of the catuaba reveal the presence of different types of alkaloids, pigments such as tannins, various aromatic oils and fatty resins, as well as phytosterols, cyclolignans and sequiterpenes, in addition to the pigments called the flavonoids. In one study conducted in 1958, a Brazilian botanical researcher documented that the alkaloid yohimbine was also found in the catuaba - but, the species he was studying, is still a mystery. Bactericidal and anti-carcinogenic properties were reported in a mixture of flavalignans, including the compound cinchonain (abundant in quinine bark) chemically isolated from the bark of the Trichilia catigua "big catuaba" tree.
The most common way in which the catuaba is sold is in the form of a herbal tincture. This tincture must be taken along with small amounts of water with the addition of a teaspoon - four ml - of lemon juice, for maximum beneficial effect. The reason for the addition of the lemon juice is that it acidifies the tincture, leading to the quick release of the beneficial alkaloids and tannins into the water.