Sum Root: Benefits and Precautions

People know sum root for its energizing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. What are its main uses? In this article, we'll tell you all about it!
Sum Root: Benefits and Precautions

Last update: 25 August, 2021

Sum root is also known as “Brazilian ginseng”, although it has nothing to do with ginseng. It comes from the plant with the scientific name Hebanthe eriantha, which belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. Due to its composition, specialists use extracts of this plant to create medicine. Also, traditionally, indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest have used it to treat several illnesses.

Specifically, it’s popular for its adaptogenic properties that help the body to better respond to stressful situations. Also, it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor compounds that are currently the focus of several studies. Do you want to know more about it? Keep reading!

Properties of sum root

Specialists have documented the pharmacological composition of sum root in recent years. According to a publication in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysisit contains two known substances: pfaffic acid and saponins, which both have anti-tumor effects.

An article published in the American Journal of Analytical Chemistry notes that sum root extracts contain multiple elements. For example, vitamins A, E, and K, and complex vitamin B, trace elements like germanium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, and others that strengthen the functions of the immune system.

Additionally, it provides a large number of alkaloids and polyphenols, that protect the body against cellular damage and reduce the risk of contracting illnesses.

Benefits of sum root

Popular literature explains that sum root has a large variety of health benefits. Despite that, only some of its properties are supported by scientific evidence. Below we explain its main uses.


In natural medicine, sum root is cataloged as an adaptogen. According to an article published in the Chinese Medical Journal, adaptogens are substances that improve the body’s response against biological, chemical, or physical stressors. As its name suggests, it helps the body to adapt.

This helps the body to reduce inflammation and stabilize cortisol levels, as well as aiding immune functions. All this contributes to a better state of health and less risk of chronic illnesses, like diabetes, and cardiac issues.

woman with her head in her hands
Apoptogenic substances are those that help combat stress, reducing the physiologic reactions associated with anxiety and stress.

Antioxidizing and anti-inflammatory

The polyphenol and alkaloid content in sum root contributes to the antioxidizing properties. These molecules contribute to neutralizing the negative action of free radicals that cause cellular damage and a wide range of illnesses.

A publication in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine explains that bioactive components of this root act against inflammatory disorders and issues associated with oxidative stress. However, more study is necessary to test these effects on humans.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Because of its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects, you can enjoy sum root as an aid to calm inflammatory bowel disease. Specifically, many people believe that it can improve health in people suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

A study on animals published in International Immunopharmacology found that a 200-milligram supplement per kilogram of weight can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines. However, more studies are required to test these effects on humans.

Sexual problems

Traditionally, people have used sum root as a natural aphrodisiac. However, there’s no scientific evidence that supports this use. An old study published in Psychopharmacology claimed that sum root extracts increase sexual activity and ejaculation in rats.

Another study explains that substances that contain sum root increase the levels of sex hormones like estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone. These are associated with an increase in libido, sperm production, and fertility. The findings aren’t that promising, though, as specialists need to study this effect in humans.

Anti-tumor effect

The pffafic acid and saponins content in sum root is associated with an anti-tumor effect in test-tube and animal studies. This doesn’t mean that it’s an oncological treatment like some advertising campaigns have lead people to believe about the supplements. It’s important to note that neither this root nor other herbal remedies can cure or prevent cancer.

For now, the results only suggest specialists will study these extracts in the development of future treatments against the disease. It’s necessary to verify whether they cause the same effects when used in patients.

Other possible benefits

  • A test-tube study published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation explains that sum root extract can improve the shape of red blood cells in patients with sickle cell anemia.
  • Popular literature suggests that this root reduces the stages of fatigue, improves physical performance, and stimulates cognitive functions.
  • Many people believe it helps to stimulate appetite.

Risks and precautions

Consuming sum root is supposedly safe for the majority of healthy adults, as long as you respect the suggested supplement dosage. Often, specialists suggest you take it over a short period.

For now, there are no data regarding the side effects of oral or topical usage. However, specialists advise against taking it in the following situations:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Patients with kidney or liver illnesses
  • People that take medication. If you do, you must consult your doctor beforehand to avoid any possible interactions
person with kidney pain artists interpretation
Patients with kidney problems should avoid sum root due to its possible side effects.

Dosage and presentation of sum root

The recommended dosage of sum root varies according to the presentation of the supplement. So, if it’s in the form of tea, specialists suggest two cups a day. If you’re taking it as capsules, specialists suggest between 500 and 1500 milligrams of dried root, 2 or 3 times a day. As a liquid extract, take 1 or 2 milliliters diluted in a drink, 2 or 3 times a day.

What should you remember about sum root?

Sum root supplements are marketed as a method to reduce stress, combat chronic fatigue, improve sexual problems or fight some chronic illnesses. It’s important to remember that even today, there’s still no solid evidence that supports these properties in humans. For that reason, they shouldn’t replace any conventional treatment.

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