What is Mamajuana? The Caribbean Cure-all, Aphrodisiac That Locals Swear By - Rum Raiders
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What is Mamajuana? The Caribbean Cure-all, Aphrodisiac That Locals Swear By

What is Mamajuana? The Caribbean Cure-all, Aphrodisiac That Locals Swear By

(Photo: Still It/YouTube)

Mamajuana is a traditional rum-based alcoholic beverage that is primarily made in the Dominican Republic. Although, it is seen in other parts of the Caribbean as well. The beverage is believed to have aphrodisiac and healing qualities because of the special mixture of herbs and spices used. Are these claims more than just folklore and what makes Mamajuana the sacred beverage it is today?  Let’s look into what Mamajuana is and what ingredients are used in its creation to discover what makes this rum drink special.

The History of Mamajuana

Mamajuana is the Dominican national drink and is also known as “The Baby Maker” and the El Para Palo (The Stand and Stick) for its association with facilitating lovemaking. It is made by steeping a combination of herbs, tree bark, and honey into a mixture of rum and red wine. 

Mamajuana began as a medical remedy served as an herbal tea and dates back to the native inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola, known as the Taíno people. This region is now the modern countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

What is Mamajuana? The Caribbean Cure-all, Aphrodisiac That Locals Swear By

(Photo: Still It/YouTube)

With Colonialism came the introduction of rum and red wine, which is now an integral part of recipes to help with the bitter flavor of the herbs and bark. Mamajuana is now a mixture of bark and herbs left to steep in rum, red wine and honey. Most often the beverage is made with dark rum but white rum can be used as a replacement.

The concoction used to contain sea turtle penis because it was thought to improve sexual function. This may have something to do with sea turtles having unusually large 12-inch penises. Fortunately for sea turtles, the Dominican Republic has for the past two decades put into place strict laws to protect them. Though the rumors of the Mamajuana’s virility improving effects have remained.

Mamajuana Medcinal Ingredients

Mamajuana is available commercially but it is often made by individuals using local or personal recipes and traditions. Therefore ingredients differ and there is no set list of ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients include Anamú bark, princess vine, star anise, clove, red wine, rum, and honey. 

Mamajuana is often consumed as a remedy for a variety of ailments. While, the purported health benefits are wide and varied, drinking mamajuana daily is said to increase vitality and energy as well as improve blood circulation, and relieve congestion and flu symptoms.

What is Mamajuana? The Caribbean Cure-all, Aphrodisiac That Locals Swear By

(Photo: Pixabay/Pexels)

Aphrodisiac properties are traditionally associated with many herbs and spices. While this has not been studied extensively, some potentially do have medical effects that could help with a multitude of ailments. 

Cinnamon has been reported to effectively reduce blood pressure in humans by relaxing your blood vessels. This improves circulation and keeps your heart healthy. While red wine has been seen in several studies to contain antioxidants and help regulate blood sugar. Anamú and honey have been used for centuries to treat inflammation and infection because of their anti-bacterial properties. 

Many of the ingredients found in the beverage have health benefits that help with blood circulation and reduce inflammation, which can help with virility and some illnesses.  

There is little scientific evidence to support claims that Mamajuana is an aphrodisiac. Although the effects of mamajuana on sexual function or libido have not been studied in a controlled scientific setting it is possible that the health benefits associated with the ingredients in Mamajuana could alleviate symptoms of illness and help with sexual function. It is difficult to assess the effects but people have been using this beverage for centuries and it cannot be completely discounted. 

Growing Popularity 

The most common way of consuming mamajuana in the Dominican Republic is neat, but for those who like a little more dilution, the beverage goes nicely with ginger beer or soda water and on ice. 

There has been a growing interest in the spicy and unique flavor of mamajuana amongst bartenders and consumers alike. The actress Zoe Saldaña recently praised the beverage and shared her thoughts on how it is both a medicine and a nostalgic necessity in her life.

What is Mamajuana? The Caribbean Cure-all, Aphrodisiac That Locals Swear By

(Photo: Candela Mamajuana)

The sharp rise in the consumption of mamajuana in recent years has brought about the creation of readily available commercial brands Internationally. Brands, such as Candela and Anteroz are sharing the national drink of the Dominican Republic with the world. 

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.