Anamu, scientifically known as Petiveria alliacea, is a popular medicinal herb.

It has long been used in folk medicine to boost immunity, fight inflammation and pain, and treat various chronic diseases, including certain cancers (1).

This article reviews the uses, benefits, and potential dangers of anamu.

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Anamu is a perennial herbaceous shrub that’s scientifically known as Petiveria alliacea. It also goes by other names, including tipi, mucura, apacin, guine, and guinea hen weed.

While it thrives in tropical climates and is native to the Amazon rainforest, it can grow in various areas, including Central America, the Caribbean, and Southern United States (1).

Anamu’s leaves — and especially its roots — are known for their strong garlic-like odor, which comes from the shrub’s chemical components, mainly sulfur compounds (2).

Traditionally, its leaves and roots have been used in folk medicine for various purposes, including boosting immunity, fighting cancers, and reducing inflammation and pain (1).

Its potential benefits are believed to stem from its variety of plant compounds, including flavonoids, triterpenes, lipids, coumarin, and sulfur compounds (1).

Although research is still emerging, test-tube and animal studies have linked anamu to various benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved brain function, and cancer-preventive properties (1, 3, 4).

It can be purchased in health stores and online, and it’s available in several forms, such as capsules, powders, tinctures, and dried leaves.

Summary Anamu is an herbaceous shrub that has long been used in folk medicine. Test-tube and animal studies have linked it to various potential benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved immunity, and anticancer effects.

Studies have linked anamu to numerous potential health benefits.

May have antioxidant properties

Anamu contains various plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties.

These include flavonoids, triterpenes, coumarins, sulfur compounds, and many others (1, 5).

Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize potentially harmful molecules called free radicals, which can cause cellular damage when their levels become too high in your body.

Damage caused by excess free radicals is linked to elevated risks of many chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, brain disorders, and diabetes (6).

May reduce inflammation and alleviate pain

In folk medicine practices, anamu was traditionally used to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

More recently, animal and test-tube studies have demonstrated that anamu leaf extract reduces markers of inflammation, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) (3, 7).

In fact, animal studies have found that anamu extracts significantly alleviate pain (8, 9).

However, a small human study in 14 people with osteoarthritis observed that drinking an anamu-based tea was no more effective than a placebo at relieving pain (10).

More human research is needed before recommending anamu for inflammation and pain.

May enhance mental performance

Animal research suggests that anamu may enhance brain function.

One study gave rats anamu leaf extract and found that they showed improvements in learning-based tasks and short- and long-term memory (4).

Another animal study noted that anamu extract improved long-term memory and reduced signs of anxiety. However, anamu did not appear to enhance short-term memory (11).

While these findings are promising, human studies are needed before recommending anamu for mental performance.

May have anticancer properties

Some evidence suggests that anamu has potential anticancer properties.

Test-tube studies have demonstrated that anamu extracts may suppress cancer cell growth and induce cell death in lung, colon, prostate, breast, and pancreas cancer cells, among others (1, 12, 13, 14).

These potential anticancer properties may be linked to various compounds in anamu, including flavonoids, coumarins, fatty acids, and sulfur compounds (14).

That said, human studies are needed to confirm these effects.

Other potential benefits

Anamu may offer other potential benefits, including:

  • May have antimicrobial properties. Anamu contains sulfur compounds, which test-tube studies have shown may have antibacterial and antifungal properties (15, 16).
  • May boost immunity. Test-tube studies indicate that several anamu compounds may help stimulate the immune system, though research in this area is limited (17).
  • May reduce anxiety. Some animal studies have observed that anamu extract may reduce signs of anxiety. Still, other animal studies show mixed effects (11, 18, 19).
Summary Anamu has been linked to several potential health benefits, such as improved mental performance and immunity, as well as reduced inflammation, pain, and anxiety. It may also have antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties.

Anamu can be purchased in health stores, as well as online.

It comes in several forms, including capsules, powders, tinctures, and as dry leaves.

Due to limited human research, there is not enough information to give dosage recommendations. Most anamu supplement labels recommend dosages between 400–1,250 mg per day, though it’s unknown if these recommendations are safe or effective.

In addition, there is currently limited human research on its safety and potential side effects.

Several animal studies have shown that short-term anamu use has low toxicity. However, prolonged use at high doses has been linked to side effects like drowsiness, restlessness, confusion, tremors, impaired coordination, seizures, and more (2).

Anamu is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there’s not enough research to support its safety in these populations.

It’s also worth noting that dietary supplements like anamu are not tested for safety and largely unregulated, so they may contain different doses than specified on the label.

Moreover, there is not enough information on the safety of taking anamu alongside medication. It contains small amounts of coumarin, a natural blood thinner, so it may interact with blood-thinning medications and other medications for heart conditions.

As with any dietary supplement, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before taking anamu.

Summary Given the lack of human research on anamu, there is not enough information to give dosage recommendations or ensure its safety in humans.

Anamu is an herbal remedy that has been linked to various health benefits.

Test-tube and animal studies have associated it with improved mental function and immunity, reduced levels of inflammation, pain, and anxiety, as well as antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties.

However, there are very few human studies on its potential health benefits or side effects. This makes it difficult to give dosage recommendations and assure its safety.