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What is Mucuna Pruriens?


Botanical name: Mucuna Pruriens
Common name: Cowitch, Cowhage, Velvet Bean, Cow-itch, Buffalo bean
Latin name: Mucuna Pruriens
Part used: Seeds, Root, Legumes

Mucuna Pruriens, also known as Cowhage, and velvet bean contains a very powerful neurotransmitter pre-cursor L-Dopa. Mucuna pruriens is a reputed remedy of Ayurveda in nervous and sexual diseases.

Traditionally, Mucuna pruriens is commonly used as carminative, hypertensive and hypoglycemic agent. Mucuna pruriens has been found to contain L-DOPA, 40 mg/g of the plant. The plant/seeds contain the bioactive alkaloids mucunine, mucunadine, mucuadinine, pruriendine and nicotine, besides B-sitosterol, glutathione, lecithin, oils, venolic and gallic acids. Studies in experimental model show L-Dopa also helps in the reduction of cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

L-Dopa:
L-Dopa is an amino acid that converts into dopamine. Dopamine is an essential component of our body and it's required for proper functioning of the brain. Research discovered the body converts the amino acid tyrosine into L-dopa; L-dopa is then converted into dopamine. Without the neurotransmitter dopamine to serve a damping effect on neural transmissions, muscles become tense and tremble.

Benefits of Mucuna Pruriens L-Dopa:
Improved sleep (promotes deep sleep)
Reduced bodyfat & decreased cellulite
Decreased weinkles
Improved skin texture & appearance
Increased bone density and reversal of osteoporosis
Increased lean muscle mass
Improved mood and sense of well-being
Enhanced libido & sexual performance
Increased energy levels
Improved cholestorol profile & regeneration of organs (heart, kidney, liver, lungs)
Dramatically strengthed immune system


Mucuna: Human Growth Hormone
L- Dopa contains natural secretagogues which may support the body's ability to stimulate the natural release of growth hormone. The blood carries the dopamine into the brain, where it naturally increases HGH production from the pituitary gland.

The increased dopamine levels also optimize the production of other hormones, including testosterone, leading to increased sex drive and improved sexual performance for both men and women, beneficial in stimulating muscle growth, as well as burning fat from fat cells.

Mucuna and Parkinson:
The seed powder of Mucuna pruriens has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for diseases including parkinson. L-Dopa significantly affects dopamine metabolism in the striatonigral tract. This ability helps improve Parkinsonian symptoms in humans. The seeds of Mucuna pruriens accumulate 0.2% - 2% L-dopa in their dry weight.

Parkinson's disease study group evaluated activity of Mucuna pruriens extract v/s Levodopa/ caebidopa in sixty patients and during their 12 weeks treatment , they proved that the extract was effective with less adverse effects.

In a randomised, controlled, double blind crossover trial published on Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, the clinical effects of levodopa L-dopa/carbidopa (LD/CD) are compared with two different doses of mucuna preparation.

Eight Parkinson's disease patients were given with single doses of 200/50 mg LD/CD, or 15 and 30 g of mucuna preparation in randomised order. Compared with standard LD/CD, the 30 g mucuna preparation led to a considerably faster onset of effect (34.6 v 68.5 min; p = 0.021), Mean on time was 21.9% (37 min) longer, peak L-dopa plasma concentrations were 110% higher and the area under the plasma concentration v time curve (area under curve) was 165.3% larger (p = 0.012).

The rapid onset of action and longer on time without concomitant increase in dyskinesias on mucuna seed powder formulation suggest that this natural source of L-dopa might possess advantages over conventional L-dopa preparations in the long term management of PD.

Mucuna Pruriens Aphrodisiac Effects:
Mucuna pruriens can improve sexual behavior, libido, and performance. In an aphrodisiac study done at College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal, Mucuna Pruriens when administered in a dose of 75 mg/kg body weight daily, increased the sexual activity of male albino rats considerably by stimulating testosterone level.

A ten fold increase in the mounting frequency was observed. The research shows that sexually active animals had increased sexual desire and improved sexual performance after 21 to 28 days. However, impotent animals did not derived any benefits.

Another research shows that Mucuna Pruriens heightened arousal and increased sexual activity to a moderate extent but also sustains it for a longer time as indicated by the increase in below Ejaculation Latency and decrease in Post Ejaculatory Interval. Mucuna Prueins is shown to possess central depressant activity.

The delay in ejaculation could be due to toning down of hypersensitity of genitals and hyperexcitation of the regulatory centers. This study show that Mucuna Pruriens can be used to improve libido and delay premature ejaculation.

Mucuna Increase Sperm Count:
The total alkaloids from Mucuna Pruriens comprise of five alkaloids (purienine and purienidine), are found to stimulate the secretion of testosterone to ensure greater availibility to gonads. These leads to increase sperm count and increase testes size.

The testes section of the mice shows increase sperm count at the 20th day, and even higher spem count on the 30th day. Spermatogenesis is governed by testosterone. The alkaloids in Mucuna increase testosterone level in seminiferous tubules either by action on pituitary function or on leydig's cells that store testosterone.

Mucuna pruriens on free radicals and oxidative stress In a research published on Phytotherapy Research. 2002, in vitro studies with alcohol extract of Mucuna pruriens showed no change on the rate of aerial oxidation of GSH content but it significantly inhibited FeSO(4) induced lipid peroxidation.

It also inhibited the specific chemical reactions induced by superoxides and hydroxyl radicals. An in vivo study on albino rats for 30 days showed no toxic effect up to a dose of 600 mg/kg body weight, on oral administration. There was no change in the level of TBA-reactive substances, reduced glutathione content and SOD activity in the liver. The activity of serum GOT, GPT and alkaline phosphatase was also unchanged.

Thus it could be concluded that the alcohol extract of the seeds of M. pruriens has an anti-lipid peroxidation property, which is mediated through the removal of superoxides and hydroxyl radicals.

Antidiabetic evaluation of Mucuna pruriens:
In normal rabbits, Mucuna Pruriens (0.5, 1 and 2 g/kg) significantly decreased the blood glucose levels while in -diabetic rabbits only 1 and 2 g/kg body weight caused a significant fall. High levels of trace elements like manganese, zinc, and others were found in these seeds.

Therefore, it is conceivable that Mucuna pruriens seeds contain hypoglycaemic principles, may be both organic and mineral, which seem to act indirectly by stimulating the release of insulin and/or by a direct insulin-like action.

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