Adams Herbs



(Pfaffia paniculata)

Powerful, versatile medicine from the rainforest

OTHER NAMES: para toda (Portugeuse), “Brazilian ginseng.”


USED IN: Immune Dragon Super Brew

NOTES: the Brazilian folk name says it all: para toda: it means “for everything.” That’s what Suma is for: everything.

Well, just about. Suma is invigorating and energizing. It helps middle-aged and older folks feel younger and livelier. If you’re feeling a bit lethargic, (energetically or sexually,) it can bring back a bit of the old adolescent hormonal friskiness. It speeds recovery from exercise or injury. Animal research suggests it could fight cancer. It assists the liver in its role as a detoxifier. It builds blood. It has a positive effect on just about every system of the body.

How can one herb do all this? Much of Suma’s activity can be traced back to a compound called beta-ecdysterone, which upregulates protein synthesis at the translational level.

Let me explain: Every time our cells create a protein – whether that protein is an enzyme, hormone, structural component of a cell, adhesion molecule, receptor, antioxidant, or antibody – it has to go through two steps: transcription and translation.

In transcription, the blueprint for that protein is transcribed from our DNA onto a sort of messenger molecule. (This, incidentally, is where zinc facilitates protein synthesis).

In translation, organelles called ribosomes pick up the transcribed blueprints and “read” them, and then follow the instructions to assemble the protein from amino acid building blocks. Beta-ecdysterone increases the speed and efficiency with which amino acids are brought to the ribosome and assembled. In other words, beta-ecdysterone streamlines the work of our DNA – the work of making us.

Before we get too carried away with the sheer awesomeness of beta-ecdysterone, we should bear in mind that there’s a lot more going on with Suma than just this one compound. There always is, with plant medicine. But understanding the far-reaching effects of beta-ecdysterone can help us at least begin to understand how a plant medicine can truly be “Para Toda.”

I like to use a pinch of Suma in cold’n’flu formulas. There’s nothing about the herb that makes it specific for cold’n’flu situations. But when I think of what it takes for an immune system to get up to speed, I think of intense protein synthesis: the rapid cell division among white blood cells, and B-cells pumping out antibodies as fast as their little ribosomes can make them. Suma facilitates all of that.

I also like it as an adjunct any time old age is tipping the balance towards wear and tear, and away from rest and repair.

In higher doses, Suma is very useful for any chronic immune challenge accompanied by fatigue. Think mono, cytomegalovirus, Hep C, and Lyme. I also use it for both men and women in fatigue accompanied by low libido. It’s especially useful in male infertility with low sperm count (along with zinc and Tribulus), and in menopause and perimenopause accompanied by drying, thinning skin, and vaginal dryness (along with hormone balancers and liver herbs). And as a component of formulas for many, many conditions.

SAFETY: Not to be confused with Sumac. There is a report, frequently cited in the literature, of a man suffering an asthma attack from inhaling the dust. I don’t understand why people make such a big deal about this. You can get an asthma attack from inhaling the dust of just about anything. Check the Material Safety Data Sheet for chalk, or wheat flour… Otherwise, Suma is very safe. There are concerns, purely theoretical at this stage, that it might be contraindicated during active estrogen-positive breast cancer.

DOSING: Normally, Suma will be used as part of a formula, in lower doses. On its own, 4 standard capsules, or one teaspoon of the powder, twice daily.



© 2009 Adam Herbs. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Use common sense. Don't jump into a full therapeutic dose of anything the first day. Trust your experience more than someone's learned opinion. If you're dealing with something scary or serious, work with a professional. If the professional appears incompetent, find a better one.