Mucuna Pruriens extract benefit, side effects herb research information, dosage, safety and l dopa source for Parkinson's disease
How does velvet bean effect sperm health, libido enhancement, depression, percent L-DOPA and conversion to dopamine
Review of interactions with prescription medications, health benefits
April 3 2014
Mucuna pruriens is a popular Ayurvedic herb also known as velvet bean, cowhage and Kapikachhu. This herb contains L-Dopa, a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Benefit, what is it good for?
Mucuna has been used for generations in India for Parkinson's disease. L-dopa converts into dopamine, an important brain chemical involved in mood, sexual desire, and body movement. How well this herb works in Parkinson's disease is just beginning to be evaluated in research studies and no definitive conclusions can yet be made but the early clinical trials look promising.
Mood and motivation
Some users notice better mood and more motivation. An extract is found in Mind Power Rx, an all natural nutritional supplement for better mental function.
Sexual improvement, libido
Due to an increase in dopamine, which influences libido, this herb is used for overall sexual enhancement and is found in herbal libido products, such as Passion Rx.
purchase Mucuna Pruriens extract capsule, formulated by physician Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D., a medical doctor with experience in herbal formulations
Veggie Caps, suitable for vegetarians
Supplement facts: Mucuna Pruriens seed extract 200 mg per capsule, 15 % L dopa
Directions: Take one capsule in the morning or as directed by your health care provider.
Passion Rx has several herbal extracts for overall libido improvement in men and women
Mind Power Rx has more than a dozen vitamins, nutrients, and herbal extracts for better focus and mental motivation.
Learn more about this product or purchase Mucuna Pruriens extract pills and other herbs
Q. I see that the mucuna L-dopa content is 15% whereas other manufacturers are listed as between less than 10 percent to 20%, 30% and 60%. Might this amount still be effective for producing the supposed dopamine increasing effects?
A. There are many substances in the herb, besides L Dopa, that have a clinical effect. The enhancement of dopamine is only one of many ways it influences the body and mind. There are quite a number of different products on the market with varying levels of l dopa content and other constituents within the herb. The only way to tell if a supplement will work for you is to try each different product since you may get different results from each one. Higher l dopa concentrations may not necessarily be a better option it they come at the expense of the exclusion of the other beneficial ingredients within the plant.
Q. I've been taking Physician Formula mucuna pruriens as one tool in my arsenal against fibromyalgia. On Wikipedia's article about L-dopa, it says to take B6 to assist in the conversion to dopamine, and to take a decarboxylase inhibitor to prevent conversion to dopamine in the peripheral tissues. Are these two items, B6 and the inhibitor, necessary with the natural L-dopa that is in velvet bean, or only with prescription types of L-dopa?
A. Ayurvedic doctors in India have been successfully using this herb in India for centuries without the additional use of vitamin B6 or a decarboxylase inhibitor. Whether the addition of B6 or a decarboxylase inhibitor adds to the benefits has yet to be determined.
Extracts and potencies, L dopa content, different product sold online
Herbal and ingredients suppliers have mucuna pruriens herb available in various extract potencies. There is regular whole powder, extract standardized to 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, or 60 percent L dopa and even 99 percent L dopa. It is difficult to know which extract potency is best for various medical conditions since comparisons are not available. For the time being, a 15 % extract appears to work well. When the herbal extract concentration is too high in terms of its L dopa percentage, it is possible that other beneficial substances in the plant are removed. Since some of the benefits of this herbal remedy rests on its other constituents, you can see why a product that has a high concentrated percentage of L dopa may be deficient in other ways since it would be missing some of the other substances found in the herb. L-3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine is the long chemical name for L-Dopa.
Different products sold online, it is difficult to say which is best, try different ones to see which works for you
Organic Velvet Bean standardized extract (seed) (Mucuna pruriens) (6% L-DOPA, 15 mg)
Mucuna pruriens Seed Extract, 166 mg, yielding 100 mg l-Dopa (60% L-DOPA)
Dopapure Velvet Bean Extract (Mucuna pruriens) (seed) (min. 15% L-DOPA) 400 mg, yielding 60 mg L-dopa
Side effect, safety, risks, danger
When mucuna pruriens is taken in high dosages, there could be side effects such as increased body temperature, excess energy, insomnia, and rapid heart beat. If you are taking other supplements or medications, either take a pill your first day by itself or, if you must take the medications use half a capsule to avoid any potential interactions. The benefits and side effects of long term use in humans are not known, therefore users and their doctors should be vigilant for any symptoms or signs that could relate to a potential long term side effect.
Benefit of mucuna pruriens extract and whole spectrum powder
Mucuna pruriens has antioxidant properties.
We have not come across formal studies with mucuna in relation to treatment of depression but it is intriguing that the l dopa converting to dopamine could have an influence on mood. Many people report better mood and motivation.
Dopamine and L dopa
Studies in rats show mucuna supplements influence dopamine content in the cortex of the brain.
Could you tell me how much l-dopa that a mucuna pruriens pill contains penetrates the blood brain barrier? Is it true that only a very small amount crosses it? So small that it may not significantly affect Parkinsonian tremors and other symptoms?
We really do not know how much of the l dopa crosses across the blood brain barrier since we have not seen these types of studies, they are difficult to do. The liver most likely does play a role in the metabolism of this herb, and there is a wide variation in each person regarding this metabolism. For practical purposes, one has to find out by trial and error whether mucuna herb works for them or not.
If the amino acid tyrosine converts to L- Dopa, then would taking a tyrosine supplement produce the same effect or result as taking mucuna herb?
Not really. This plant has many other compounds in it besides L Dopa.
Fertility and infertility treatment
Effect of Mucuna pruriens on semen profile and biochemical parameters in seminal plasma of infertile men.
Fertil Steril. 2007.
Sixty normal healthy fertile men (controls) and 60 men undergoing infertility screening. Before and after the treatment, seminal plasma lipid profile, lipid peroxide, fructose, and antioxidant vitamin levels were measured. Treatment significantly inhibited lipid peroxidation, elevated spermatogenesis, and improved sperm motility. Treatment also recovered the levels of total lipids, triglycerides, cholesterol, phospholipids, and vitamin A, C, and E and corrected fructose in seminal plasma of infertile men. Treatment with the herb increased sperm concentration and motility in all the infertile study groups. Patients recovered sperm concentration significantly, but sperm motility was not restored to normal levels in men with reduces sperm motility.
Sexual enhancer, for impotence or erectile dysfunction, libido boost
Dopamine is a natural neurotransmitter that enhances sexual urge. Mucuna pruriens contains L-Dopa, the precursor to dopamine. it has been known in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac herb. Users of this herb notice sexual enhancement within days.
I would like to know if you have heard any feedback about its effect on sexuality. Due to it's ability to raise dopamine, I would think that this herb would raise mood, libido, etc.
Many people do notice a mood and libido lift.
Parkinson's disease research
Parkinson's disease has a low prevalence in India except in the small Parsi community. It has been known in India since ancient days and mucuna pruriens seed powder has been used for its treatment. At this point it is too early to tell how to best use it for this condition. It is not clear what the ideal dosage would be, how long the treatment would last, how it combines with other drugs used for this condition, etc. It is quite possible that the addition of mucuna pruriens herb to one's Parkinson's treatment regimen would require lowering the dosage of the prescription medications. Each patient has to be tailored individually starting with a low dose of mucuna and then proceeding to a higher dosage while prescription drug dosage is decreased. Consult with your doctor and ask that he or she read this article.
Some people think that L dopa in mucuna herb is the chemical that has the only influence regarding its benefits for Parkinson's disease. However, there are many other substances in this herb that influence brain function and anti Parkinson activity.
Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson's disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study.
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004.
Patients were challenged with single doses of 200 / 50 mg L-dopa / carbidopa, and 15 and 30 g of mucuna pruriens preparation in randomised order at weekly intervals. Compared with standard L-dopa / carbidopa, the mucuna preparation led to a considerably faster onset of effect, reflected in shorter latencies to peak L-dopa plasma concentrations. No significant differences in dyskinesias or tolerability occurred. Note: Mucuna pruriens extract is much more concentrated and potent than the seed powder.
Neuroprotective effects of the anti Parkinson drug mucuna pruriens herb
Phytother Res. 2004.
Mucuna pruriens powder significantly increased the brain mitochondrial complex-I activity but did not affect the total monoamine oxidase activity (in vitro). Unlike synthetic levodopa treatment, treatment significantly restored the endogenous levodopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin content in the substantia nigra.
I first would like to know if it is an MAO inhibitor and whether I will need to avoid certain foods and medicines because of that.
This herb is not a MAO inhibitor and there are no food restrictions.
I am now taking Sinemet 25/100 three times daily. What is the equivalent in a mucuna pruriens dosage?
The equivalent dose is not known, and it is not clear yet how similarly it works to Sinemet or if they have overlapping effects.
I am ordering the mucuna pruriens 15% l dopa supplement. When you take synthetic levodopa you have to reduce protein intake or you don't get the same symptom relief for Parkinson's. Does one need to reduce protein intake to get good/best results?
The benefits do not seem to rely on protein intake.
My mother has suffered from Parkinson's Disease for 13 years now, and recently she started taking HP200 (powder form of mucuna beans). The powder really seems to cause the symptoms to subside.
I have Parkinson's disease and in just six days mucuna pruriens product had me where I could sign my name again and since have regained a lot of my functions.
Sperm and semen health
Effect of Mucuna pruriens on oxidative stress mediated damage in aged rat sperm.
Int J Androl. 2009,
Our observations indicate the antioxidant enhancing property, free radical quenching ability and sperm enhancing efficacy of the mucuna pruriens herb. Sperm damage in ageing was significantly reduced by quenching ROS, improving antioxidant defence system and mitochondrial function.
I have read several reports and seen several forum posts online regarding the testosterone-increasing effects of mucuna supplement, as a result of the supposed human growth hormones it contains. Even as a 24 yr old male, I have no interest in gaining big bulky muscle mass and am mainly interested for the dopamine enhancing effects. Could you possibly tell me whether or not mucuna supplement has any significant effects on testosterone production and human growth hormones HGH? I understand some products have different extraction forms such as Himalaya and Nutraceutics Rx.
Not enough human trials have been done to determine its influence on human growth hormone and testosterone levels.
Interactions with medications
I am now taking Toprol metoprolol, a beta blocker, and wonder if it will interfere with the mucuna pruriens if I take it.
It's difficult to say since such combination research has not been done with it and beta blockers. We suggest if your doctor approves to use only half of a capsule at first and monitor your symptoms.
I am 60 yrs old. I have read some testimonials about this natural source of dopamine. I am taking Azilect and Requip at this time. Can I take it with the meds I am taking Azilect Requip?
We have not seen studies regarding these combinations. One option is to take slightly lower amounts of the medications when starting the herb, but one should do so with medical supervision.
Interactions with dietary supplements
Does this herb interact with cordyceps extract mushroom product use?
We have not seen such studies but in low dosages the combination should be fine.
Composition of the seed
Nutritional analysis reveals mucuna pruriens seed contains crude protein ranged from 20-29 %, crude lipid 6-7%, total dietary fiber 8-10%, ash 3% and carbohydrates 50-60%. Besides L-dopa, these supplements contain quite a number of others substances including tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloids, D-chiro-inositol, trace amounts of bufotenine, DMT, and beta-carboline. The composition of various substances depends on a number of factors including where it is grown, when it is harvested, how it is processed, etc. The amount of L-dopa in the seed can range from 30 to 130 ng/ml. Extracts of the herb can help concentrate L-Dopa. A reasonable percentage is 15%.
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This Ayurvedic herb is sometimes misspelled as mucana or mucua or puriens. We have also seen is misspelled as macuna. Other names are cowhage or cowage, velvet bean, Kapikachhu, and Nescafe.