Mucuna Pruriens is most often used for
Mucuna pruriens, commonly known as velvet bean, is a bean that grows from vines in several tropical places, including Asia, Africa, and South America. It has a high L-DOPA content, among various other phytochemicals, and is generally taken as an extract based on L-DOPA dose. L-DOPA is a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, so researchers have evaluated the effects of Mucuna pruriens compared to pharmaceutical L-Dopa and other drugs for this purpose. Other studies have explored Mucuna pruriens’ potential aphrodisiac, antivenom, and antidiabetic effects.
Preliminary research suggests that dose-matched Mucuna pruriens is roughly equivalent to pharmaceutical L-DOPA for reducing the general symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It’s possible that Mucuna pruriens has other effects as well, but more research is needed to get an accurate sense of its efficacy.
Mucuna pruriens is also researched in the context of sperm quality for infertile men. Preliminary evidence suggests it to be effective, with improvements in sperm motility and concentration being its best-substantiated effects. The mechanism of action is still unclear, but the evidence so far suggests that it can notably improve the sperm quality of infertile men with a normal sperm count.
Traditionally, Mucuna pruriens has been utilized as an antivenom agent for snakebites. Some studies have specifically examined its efficacy against Echis carinatus venom, commonly referred to as the saw-scaled viper.
In rodent studies, Mucuna pruriens reduced the onset of diabetic cataracts. It may suppress increases in urinary albumin levels associated with diabetes in rodents. However, it fails to prevent the hypertrophy of the kidneys associated with diabetes and does not appear to have significant influence on diabetic neuropathy in rodents.
Mucuna pruriens carries the risk of the side-effects of L-DOPA, which include several gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms. Specifically, one human trial found Mucuna pruriens increased nausea in participants, though the incidence of other adverse events was unclear. There have been reports of acute toxic psychosis associated with the bean form of Mucuna pruriens ingestion in Mozambique. This was thought to be due to women eating raw beans prior to sufficient preparation, and the psychosis may have been the result of a combination of protein deficiency paired with levodopa, bufotenin and other components found in Mucuna pruriens. Like other herbs, it always carries a risk of negative interactions with various medications.
It is thought that the anti-Parkinson’s effects of Mucuna pruriens is due to the L-DOPA content in the bean. It improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Mucuna pruriens likely exhibits its antivenom effects through an immune mechanism in which glycoproteins present in the bean stimulate antibodies to bind to venom proteins. The antidiabetic effects of Mucuna pruriens requires more research, but current evidence suggests that the presence of a compound called D-chiro-inositol is involved.
- Velvet Bean
- Levodopa (active ingredient)
5g of dried powder has been used with efficacy in some human studies on Parkinson's Disease and fertility. This dose or doses upwards of it should be a good starting point.
If your supplement is standardized for L-DOPA and you are supplementing for an effect attributed to L-DOPA, then start with about 1/2 the L-DOPA equivalent and work up if needed (this is due to the same amount of L-DOPA in Mucuna being more bioactive relative to isolated L-DOPA without carbidopa).
Mucuna Pruriens can be eaten isolated as a food product, but cooking is required to destroy trypsin inhibitors in the beans (so protein absorption is not hindered) yet cooking also destroys L-DOPA.
Some supplements use the cotyledon of Mucuna Pruriens, which may have different nutrient profiles relative to the bean or whole root.