Erythrina mulungu / Erythrina verna

Herbs gallery - Mulungu

Common names

  • Ceibo
  • Flor-de-coral
  • Muchocho
  • Mulungu
  • Mulungu-coral
  • Murungo
  • Pau-imortal
  • Suiná-suiná
  • Totocero

Mulungu (botanical name Erythrina mulungu and Erythrina verna) is a medium-sized tree usually found growing up to a height of anything between 10 meters and 14 meters. This tree is well branched and produces copious attractive reddish-orange flowers at the branch terminals. The flowers of mulungu are pollinated by hummingbirds. Occasionally, this tree is also referred as coral flower, because the color of its blooms bears resemblance to orange coral.

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The flowers give way to seed pods that have a black hue and enclose red-and-black seeds. Sometimes, the indigenous people use the seeds of mulungu to make necklaces and other jewellery. Mulungu is native to Brazil, some regions of Peru and the tropical regions of Latin America. Usually, these trees are found growing along river banks and in marshy lands.

There are over 100 tree and shrub species in the Erythrina genus and most of them are profusely armed with thorns and spines. Trees and shrubs of this genus are found in the tropical as well as sub-tropical regions in south and north hemisphere. Recorded for the first time in 1829, the mulungu tree has two botanical names. As mentioned above, they are Erythrina mulungu and Erythrina verna. In South American herbal medicine, practitioners use another closely-related species called Erythrina crista-galli interchangeably.

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This species is native to regions farther south in South America. Incidentally, the E. crista-galli flower is Argentina's national flower. The hummingbirds, which pollinate these flowers, add a lively splash to the attractive blooms of this tree.

Parts used

Bark, root.


The natives of Amazon use several species of Erythrina tree for various purposes, including therapeutic, insecticides as well as fish poison. Since long, indigenous peoples of Brazil have been using this tree in the form of a natural sedative. Mulungu has been employed to soothe overexcited nervous systems as well as to promote peaceful sleep.

In the herbal medicine systems of North and South America, practitioners consider mulungu to be a very effective sedative that is helpful in calming agitated nerves as well as nervous coughs. In addition, this herb is also used for treating various problems related to the nervous system, including anxiety and insomnia. These apart, mulungu is extensively employed for treating bronchitis, asthma, hepatitis, intermittent fevers, gingivitis, inflammation of the spleen and liver, in addition to clearing obstructions or congestions in the liver. In Brazil as well as in Peru, locals also use mulungu for treating epilepsy.

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In the United States, herbalists as well as practitioners employ mulungu to treat hysteria caused by shock or trauma. In addition, this herb is also used in the form of a mild hypnotic sedative with a view to soothe the nervous system, to cure insomnia as well as to support healthy sleeping patterns by means of calming the overactive neurotransmitters. Moreover, this herb is also used for regulating heart palpitations as well as for treating problems related to the liver and hepatitis. Several studies undertaken to examine the therapeutic properties of mulungu have reported that the plant's regulatory effects on heart palpitations were found to be positive. At the same time, it also helps to lower high blood pressure. Additionally, mulungu has been found to be an excellent remedy for stomach aches, hernias and even epilepsy. It is also a galactagogue and, hence helps in boosting breast milk production.

Not many people know about mulungu or its therapeutic properties and, hence, it is not used much in North America. It is only found as an ingredient in some herbal remedies that are used to treat anxiety and depression. Nevertheless, mulungu is an excellent medicinal plant from the rainforest and it certainly deserves a lot of attention from people practicing herbal medicine outside South America. Currently, kava kava is perhaps the only main herbal remedy that is sold in America for treating anxiety and stress. Kava kava is also used in the form of a common sedative in North America.

As the calming as well as stress alleviating effects of mulungu is similar to those of kava kava, if not superior, and the plant's effect on the liver is positive, it is likely to emerge as a new substitute for kava kava, which is not only a very popular herbal supplement, but profitable too.

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Mulungu is held in high esteem for the plant's wonderful sedative properties. This herb is extremely helpful in appeasing various problems related to the nervous system, including anxiety and insomnia. In addition, it also provides relief from coughs caused by agitated nervous conditions. Mulungu is also used to support the lungs and liver effectively. Moreover, inhabitants of rainforest employ mulungu for treating liver and spleen inflammations, hepatitis, and even the stressful symptoms related to bronchitis and asthma.

Findings of a number of studies involving mulungu have shown that the herb has a positive effect on people enduring high blood pressure and heart palpitations. Moreover, mulungu is a dependable herbal remedy for withdrawal stresses that are associated with nicotine and drug addiction. It is worth mentioning here that this herb is also employed in the form of an antioxidant and also to tone up, balance as well as reinforce the liver.

Traditionally, the native inhabitants of the places where mulungu grows naturally have been using this plant for treating anxiety and stress. In fact, researchers have documented this aspect of the plant well. Findings of many studies have shown that use of mulungu is effective in altering responses related to anxiety. In fact, researchers have suggested that the extract of mulungu has an effect that is same as diazepam, the widely prescribed anti-anxiety drug, but does not result in any of the adverse side effects associated with diazepam. In addition, mulungu is considered to be a natural body relaxer as well as a mental stimulant.

It has been confirmed that one major effect of using mulungu is a potent physical feeling of well-being. In other words, it is an excellent for lifting one's mood. People using mulungu experience extremely enjoyable warmth as well as tingling in their body. The sensation is not only pleasurable, but it also works excellently to suppress appetite and thereby promote weight loss. When you use this herb, you will have such a pleasurable feeling that you would not crave for food. Findings of preliminary studies have also suggested that this herb also possesses the potential to reduce pain.


Scientists have extensively examined the mulungu plant. Chemical analysis of this herb has show that it contains large quantities of new alkaloids, flavonoids and triterpenes.

Usual dosage

The normal dose of this herb is drinking half cup of a standard decoction prepared from the bark of the mulungu plant. Those enduring low blood pressure should be extra careful while using mulungu and also keep monitoring their blood pressure regularly. A bark decoction of mulungu is generally prepared by boiling the powdered or freshly cut herb in water in proportion of 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of powdered herb for every 250 ml water or 2 teaspoon (10 grams) of the cut herb in 250 ml water. While boiling the herb in water, cover the container and lower the heat to medium level to ensure that the mixture remains at a good bubble. Also ensure that you do not remove the cover before 20 minutes. Subsequently, remove the container from the heat and allow it to cool. Once the mixture has cooled, filter it and drink the resultant decoction.

Side effects and cautions

Mulungu possesses sedative properties and, hence, its use may result in drowsiness. This herb has been widely used in traditional medicine, especially to treat hypertension or lower high blood pressure. It is advisable that people who are already taking medications to lower high blood pressure or those enduring low blood pressure need to use mulungu with additional caution. In addition, they also need to keep an eye on their blood levels regularly to check that the blood pressure does not fall drastically.


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