Does Mucuna Pruriens Hold Up to Its Nickname: Nature’s Adderall?
Mucuna pruriens is an ancient Chinese herbal medicine that healers have used for centuries, most commonly to address the nervous system. Ancient Indians used the herb to help with various neurological issues, including anxiety, Parkinson's disease, and even female and male infertility.
Mucuna pruriens is native to Africa and parts of Asia. Known as the velvet bean or monkey tamarind, traditional healers have prized mucuna pruriens as a medicinal plant for centuries.
Keep reading to learn about the many traditional uses and promising medical applications of mucuna pruriens.
Mucuna Pruriens Benefits
Mucuna pruriens supplements have a noticeable effect on the nervous system. Tradition, as well as scientific evidence, shows that levodopa, the active compounds in the seed, has the potential to:
- Increase focus
- Help reduce stress
- Improve memory
- Help improve posture and gait
- Help the body produce more dopamine naturally
- Enhance libido
- Help strengthen the reproductive system in both men and women
- Support blood sugar levels
- Soothe the digestive system
What Does Dopamine Do?
Dopamine is the chemical messenger that tells your brain, "this is good, do more of it." It is a key player in your brain's reward system and substantially affects your motivation.
If you don't have enough dopamine, you may feel depressed, listless, unambitious, and in extreme cases, low dopamine may lead to mental illness.
If you have too much, or you have too much in one area of the brain and lack it in another, you may suffer from aggression, ADHD, and addiction disorders.
In some people, the cells that produce dopamine are compromised or even die off, which leads to muscle weakness, stiffness, and trouble speaking. If it progresses too far, you could end up with major motor control problems or Parkinson's disease.
Mucuna pruriens and dopamine often work together, as mucuna contains the building blocks of dopamine that the body needs to produce more.
Mucuna Pruriens Side Effects
When taken orally, mucuna is considered mostly safe. There’s not much research on the effects of mucuna on people who take it for more than 20 weeks. Consult with your doctor to see what makes sense for your individual biology. Common side effects include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unusual body movements
- Rapid heartbeat
If you come across the velvet bean or monkey tamarind in its raw form, avoid contact with the tiny hairs on the outer pod. It is a known irritant that causes skin issues, including swelling and burning.
Mucuna Pruriens for Testosterone
Infertile or impotent men who have trouble with testosterone levels may have underlying issues with dopamine, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. A study conducted on 75 infertile men with low and immobile sperm counts showed much-improved levels of serum testosterone, dopamine, luteinizing hormone, and lower levels of follicle-stimulating hormone after supplementation with mucuna, which leads to better testosterone levels and enhanced male fertility.
Natural Remedies for Parkinson's
Parkinson's patients often take a medication called carbidopa/levodopa. In a study, researchers gave participants either carbidopa/levodopa or mucuna pruriens, tracked results. Mucuna pruriens acted faster and had longer-lasting effects than carbidopa/levodopa.
Research on mucuna pruriens as part of a treatment plan for Parkinson's disease is emerging, yet promising. So far, studies concluded that longer-term use of mucuna pruriens supplements might cause side effects, including gastrointestinal discomfort. In order to tolerate it better, you may need to lower your dose of mucuna and pair it with other medications or supplements.
A case study looked at one patient who took carbidopa alongside mucuna, and she had much better improvement in her symptoms than taking carbidopa or mucuna alone. More studies need to be done to figure out if this applies at a larger scale.
Mucuna Pruriens for Anxiety
Mucuna pruriens is an excellent source of L-dopa and 5-hydroxy tryptophan (5-HTP), both of which could calm feelings of anxiousness in some people. Studies have been conducted on mice to determine the effects on anxiety compared to Buspirone's standard dose. The study concluded that 200 and 400 mg of the velvet bean had the most significant impact on anxiety, reducing behaviors that indicate anxiety compared to those in the control group.
Mucuna Pruriens for Depression
Mucuna contains high levels of levodopa, which your body uses to produce dopamine naturally. Dopamine is often lacking in depressed individuals, causing a lack of motivation, sad feelings, and no pleasure.
Using mucuna regularly helps your body naturally produce dopamine, which may help you feel more motivated, eat better, and even have a better sex drive.
Mucuna Pruriens Dosage
Mucuna pruriens supplements are available in both powder and tablet form.
People who have taken both tend to prefer powder because of its quick action in the body. It gets right to the digestive system through a carrier substance, such as milk, honey, or even water.
Dosage: The typical powder dosage is ¼ - ½ teaspoon once or twice a day. Consult your doctor for exact dosage directions.
If you're averse to the herb's taste, herbal tablets are the next best thing. Tablets are more beneficial than capsules, as they provide an easy way to take the herb without having to deal with the taste.
Dosage: Tablet sizes vary, so check package directions for dosage.
As always, discuss any supplements with your doctor. But if you suffer from nervous system disorders and want a natural way to supplement your body, giving it what it needs so it naturally heals itself and functions optimally, open up a conversation with your doctor about mucuna pruriens supplements.