Suma is a South American plant whose roots have a long history of use in traditional forms of medicine. It’s often called Brazilian ginseng, though this is somewhat erroneous – it bears no relation to ginseng at all. Rather, it’s fully its own thing, and that thing is one of the best sources of adaptogens going.
Adaptogens are pretty miraculous, at least in theory. They are thought to improve immune function and mitigate the symptoms of certain common chronic diseases and health concerns by helping the body to resist stressors – bacteria, toxins, negative hormonal output (think cortisol, the stress hormone).
Suma root itself has plenty of additional uses in traditional medicine. It is used to treat conditions as diverse as cancer, diabetes, and male sexual concerns/ erectile dysfunction (ED). However, there is scant data supporting its use for these conditions.
Suma enjoys a rich history in South America. Ancient tribes throughout South America have come to it independently and hold it in high esteem. Traditional uses include fighting fatigue, stress, and poor immune health, to name just a few. Indigenous communities have been known to ingest it daily to improve their energy, stamina, and strength.
It has recently crossed into the Western world, initially moving northwards into the US and Canada. It was marketed as ‘Brazilian Ginseng’, which is foolish. It isn’t anything to do with ginseng, it happens to simply look a little bit like it.
Suma is in fact sourced from a rambling ground vine called Pfaffia paniculata plant, which belongs to the Amaranthaceae family.
The whole vine has been used throughout a long and varied history of traditional medicine. However, the root is thought to be by far the most potent part of the plant. It is known as ‘para toda’, which means ‘for all things’ – to native communities, at least, it serves as something of a panacea.
It is at once a tonic, an analgesic, a stress buster, an immune booster, and an aphrodisiac.
In a modern setting, we can talk about Suma root as a potent adaptogen.
Suma Root Nutrition Profile
Suma root serves as a rich source of pfaffic acid and saponin pfaffosides. These are both well regarded for their ability to fight cancer. They underpin a lot of the hype surrounding Suma root in modern supplementation circles.
You will also get plenty of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – from Suma root. In particular, it is a rich source of the minerals iron, magnesium, and zinc, vitamins A, E, and K, and germanium (known for its ability to boost immune function), and a good vitamin B complex.
As well as these compounds, Suma root will also give you an abundant dose of polyphenols and alkaloids. Both are powerful antioxidant compounds which should protect your body from oxidative stress. Hence, Suma root may well live up to its claim to fight cancer, whilst also working as an anti-aging supplement.
Suma root typically comes as a simple powder that is best mixed or blended into any given beverage.
The Health Benefits of Suma Root
Please note that the science is young with regards Suma root. There is insufficient clinical data to fully back most of the claims made about it – though its delivery of powerful antioxidants and a good micronutrient complex should still make it a powerful ally in maintaining robust health.
The main reason advocates cite Suma root’s utility is in its use as an adaptogen.
Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals known to be able to improve your body’s ability to adapt and resist damage from a range of physical, biological, and chemical stressors.
These stressors can include things like stress and anxiety responses, as adaptogens improve your ability to deal with cortisol, as well as pollution, climate change, infection, and so on.
Essentially, they make your body more resilient to everything life can throw at it.
Suma root is an adrenal adaptogen. As part of this, they help to modulate the immune system, a system easily disrupted and impaired by heightened stress levels.
In fact, it has amongst the highest germanium concentrations of any natural source we know of. Germanium is particularly good at leveling out and improving immune function.
In fact, the ‘holy waters’ at Lourdes, renowned for their healing properties, are particularly rich in germanium, hence their legend.
As above, Suma root is also rich in polyphenols and alkaloids, two potent antioxidants. These can help to neutralize volatile free radicals that arise from oxidative stress. Free radicals cause cellular damage that can lead to premature aging, as well as a range of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
These polyphenols are also highly anti-inflammatory. Inflammation may be an underlying factor in many chronic diseases. Fighting it can therefore help your body to steer clear of them.
Though there is little data on Suma root specifically, the data on these components are strong. There is every reason to believe that their benefits will be quite profound to your ongoing health and wellbeing.
Combine these with the pfaffic acid and saponin pfaffosides contained in Suma root and you have something very ably built to help combat cancer. Both can kill cancer cells whilst also inhibiting their spread.
The immune response elicited by Suma root’s potential adaptogenic properties may also help to halt the growth of cancerous cells.
Adaptogenic compounds like Suma root may make a perfect complimentary supplement to be used in conjunction with more mainstream cancer treatment.
There are some more spurious claims associated with Suma root, however. Chief amongst these is the belief that Suma root can help to improve libido and fertility. There is little scientific evidence to support these claims, though we can see where these arguments begin to take shape.
Suma root is thought to boost testosterone production – this would play into libido and fertility for men. This makes a little bit of sense. As a rich source of zinc, it should help to normalize a higher output as standard.
However, this isn’t anything that a cheap multi-vitamin wouldn’t do. More interesting is its ecdysterone content. Ecdysterone is an anabolic agent created in the same vein as testosterone. Endogenous ecdysterone supplies may help to improve output, supporting healthy male hormone levels.
Female sexual health may also benefit from Suma root supplementation.
It is a good source of ecdysteroids. These ramp up prostaglandin production. In turn, this should give a boost to ovulation and menstrual cycles. Sitosterol and stigmasterol are also present in Suma root, both of which have been linked with higher estrogen levels. There is an estrogen based hormone in Suma root, estradiol, that may also improve female fertility.
Supplementing with Suma Root for Fitness
Suma root may have a role to play in athletic performance. It came to prominence in the 1970s through the Soviet Union’s use of it with their Olympic athletes. They had been researching the best compounds to give their athletes an edge and found that Suma root was able to greatly enhance natural testosterone output.
Testosterone is crucial for improving strength and stamina, giving you drive and focus, and allowing for muscle mass development and proper fat utilization. Improved output will mean improvements across the board for all of these factors, as well as faster recovery times after heavy training.
As above, the mineral content in Suma root should play a strong role here.
Additionally, the phytochemical beta-ecdysterone is thought to play a part. Beta-ecdysterone is a phytosteroid that can improve rates of hypertrophy, or muscle gain, with no known side effects.
Suma root is also abundant in amino acids, electrolytes, B vitamins, saponins, steroidal glycosides, and germanium, a phytochemical. All play central roles in testosterone and/or protein synthesis. Including them in your supplement regime may give you a real boost as you seek to improve athleticism and body composition.
Taking Suma Root Supplements
You don’t need too much Suma root to make the most of its benefits. You can also take it in various forms.
For example, you can drink it, which is perhaps the most common way of consuming it. To do this, you can either drink a couple of cups of Suma root tea per day, brewed on the strong side, or dissolve a gram or two of powdered Sumo root or a couple of ml of root extract into any drink, three times daily.
You can also buy Suma root in capsules. Most manufacturers will recommend you take in around 500-1500 mg of dried Suma root capsules a couple of times per day.
Whichever way you go, you will need multiple doses throughout the day to make the most of the Suma root. However, this is arguably quite a small price to pay for the benefits on offer.
These are also just manufacturer’s recommendations. There is no scientific consensus on how much Suma root, if any, will make for an appropriate dose. There is no research stating the efficacy or indeed safety of these dosages.
There are also no studies pointing to potential side effects of using Suma root.
Because of this lack of knowledge, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before adding Suma root to your daily supplement regime. They will be able to advise you on your options, any interactions supplements may have with any medications you’re on, and the appropriateness of taking Suma root given your own personal health history.