Mucuna Pruriens(mjuːˈkjuːnə - ˈpro͝orēəns) n. 1. A species within the family Fabaceae — the velvet bean, a legume, native to Africa and tropical Asia, used as a food and forage source, as a toxin, and for medicinal purposes. Synonyms: bengal bean, benghal bean, cowage, florida bean, mucuna aterrima, mucuna deeringiana, stizolobium deeringiana, velvet bean Derivation: Mid 19th century: via Portuguese from Tupi mucunán.
SourceOriginally native to Africa and the tropical parts of China, where it was used as a green vegetable crop, its medicinal uses date back to 1500 BC. Mucuna pruriens was used in traditional Indian medicine as well as tribal medicine for various treatments, including snakebites. It is now widespread in tropical and subtropical regions including Africa, the Americas and the Pacific Islands. It has also been used as a coffee substitute (after roasting and grinding) in Mexico and Guatemala.
BenefitsRecent studies have shown positive impact on brain health and even possibly Parkinson’s Disease. The reported success of mucuna pruriens comes from its natural active compounds – one of which is levodopa or L-dopa. L-dopa and the rather significant antioxidant properties of mucuna pruriens combine to increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an essential neurotransmitter in the brain associated with regulating mood and cognition while helping defend the brain against the effects of oxidative stress from free radicals. It has also been shown to help manage stress and to improve semen quality in men. The effect of increased dopamine production has also been linked to:
- Cognitive control, memory, problem solving and planning
- Motor control – coordination of muscles and limbs
- Reinforcement – wanting and liking – desire and pleasure
- Reward – rewarding stimuli function as positive enforcers
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased force production
UsesMucuna pruriens has a long history of use for mental health and has been used in natural medicine to manage stress levels and regulate mood. It was also used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The natural L-dopa contained within mucuna pruriens was even shown by one study to be twice as effective in helping with Parkinsonism as compared to synthetic L-dopa. It has also been used in traditional tribal medicine as both an aphrodisiac and to help with snake bites. A lot of these traditional uses are now understood as the relationship between L-dopa and the production of Dopamine became apparent. Dopamine is known to stimulate production of HGH (human growth hormone) and even boost testosterone in men. The results of these increases have been tied to improved libido, better fertility, generating more lean muscle mass and even slowing the signs of aging. It is a more recent discovery that mucuna pruriens is also used as a powerful antioxidant to manage free radicals within the body. It is also used to improve mood, depression, energy, focus, motivation, athletic performance, bodybuilding, arthritis and more.
Forms (delivery methods)Mucuna pruriens is available in liquid, powder and capsules.
Side EffectsMucuna pruriens are considered safe in normal dosages. High dosages may cause headaches and vomiting. People with high blood pressure should speak with a physician before taking mucuna pruriens.
Research:1 Dietary antioxidant activities in different germplasms of Mucuna. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/238759012 Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson's disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1738871/ 3 Mucuna pruriens seed extract reduces oxidative stress in nigrostriatal tissue and improves neurobehavioral activity in paraquat-induced Parkinsonian mouse model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23562769 4 Comparison of the neuroprotective potential of Mucuna pruriens seed extract with estrogen in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced PD mice model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24333323 5 Anti-Parkinson botanical Mucuna pruriens prevents levodopa induced plasmid and genomic DNA damage. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17622977 6 Mucuna pruriens Reduces Stress and Improves the Quality of Semen in Infertile Men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18955292 7 Herbs containing L- Dopa: An update. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22557260