Mucuna Seed

Mucuna pruriens, commonly known as velvet bean or cow itch, is a plant indigenous to India, and has been used in Ayurveda for a large variety of conditions. Scientists and doctors in the west are now beginning to take a serious look at the potential benefits of this potent herb in a number of medical and psychological conditions.

Here are what we believe to be the Top 10 Health benefits of this amazing product:

1) Provides L-Dopa – turns into dopamine which improves mood, sense of well-being, mental clarity, better sleep, brain function, etc.

2) Produces Testosterone* – Increases libido in both men and women. Builds fertility in men (Increases semen volume, sperm count and sperm motility, better double up boys…) and is extremely potent at increasing libido for both men and women. Mucuna helps men last longer sexuall and also helps women increase lactation when breastfeeding.

3) Increases Energy*

4) Improves mental capacity*

5) Promotes brain activity that combats such things such as Parkinson’s disease and depression*

6) Used to build muscle mass and strengthen muscles and physical ability.

7) Helps digestion without increasing pitta (fire)

8) The hairs on the mucuna plant have been shown to successfully treat several species of parasitic worms.

9) Very helpful in treating insomnia and generally deepens sleep.

10) Balancing to all three doshas (which is very rare!)

1) Parkinson’s Disease
Limited evidence suggests that Mucuna pruriens may have beneficial effects on some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, there’s still insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness and safety.

L-Dopa in Mucuna pruriens is the main active component that may reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease [6].

People with Parkinson’s have low dopamine content in parts of the brain due to impaired conversion of tyrosine to L-dopa.

Studies suggest L-Dopa from Mucuna may cross the blood-brain barrier and be used to make dopamine, restoring its brain levels and neurotransmission. Other antioxidants in this plant’s seeds may enhance brain protection [6, 2].

However, others have pointed out that a large part of L-Dopa from Mucuna may be broken down before it reaches the brain [7].

To counter this argument, some scientists hypothesize that Mucuna Pruriens may affect additional pathways in the brain – unlike pure L-Dopa – or that it contains compounds that help prevent L-Dopa breakdown. These hypotheses have yet to be confirmed [7].

In a clinical trial of 60 subjects, a powder derived from Mucuna pruriens (HP-200) decreased the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease better than standard levodopa treatment after 12 weeks [8].

In another study, Mucuna pruriens was just as effective as levodopa treatment but was absorbed and reached peak levels faster [6].

Similarly, a single lower dose of Mucuna powder worked just as well as the standard drugs (levodopa + benserazide) in 18 advanced Parkinson’s patients but caused fewer adverse effects. Higher Mucuna doses were even more effective and longer-lasting than the standard drugs [9].

These three studies suggest that Mucuna pruriens may be used as a complementary strategy in the management of Parkinson’s Disease.

However, a 2018 randomized pilot study with 14 Parkinson’s disease patients suggested that Mucuna pruriens powder may have more side effects than levodopa/carbidopa, the typical drug treatment [10].

In the study, daily intake of Mucuna pruriens resulted in 50% of patients discontinuing use due to either gastrointestinal side-effects or worsening of motor performance. No one in the medications group discontinued use. For patients who tolerated Mucuna pruriens, clinical response was similar to levodopa/carbidopa [10].

Despite some promising findings, it’s uncertain whether mucuna improves Parkinson’s symptoms. It may also cause more side effects than typical drug treatment.
2) Male Infertility
Dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters for sexual behavior and libido in men. Its effects are pretty straightforward: an increase in brain dopamine levels increases the libido, while a decrease in dopamine and similar neurotransmitters (catecholamines) reduces the libido and sexual function in men [11].

Mucuna pruriens is commonly used as a supplement for male infertility because of its dopamine-boosting and antioxidant effects. However, few clinical trials support its use for male infertility.

In one study of 60 infertile men, Mucuna powder (5 g/day) improved sperm count, motility, and overall quality [12].

In two other studies of over 250 infertile men, Mucuna also increased testosterone levels, aside from improving sperm quality. It could also boost antioxidants and balance other sex and stress hormones linked to infertility in men. Large-scale studies are needed to confirm these findings [13, 14].

What’s more, the effects of Mucuna on fertility in healthy, fertile, or subfertile men are unknown. All of the above studies administered Mucuna only to infertile men.

Limited data point to mucuna’s potential to improve male infertility, but more research is needed.
3) Stress (Linked to Infertility)
There is insufficient evidence to suggest that Mucuna pruriens reduces stress, though early findings seem promising.

In one trial, Mucuna pruriens seed powder reduced psychological stress and cortisol levels in 60 infertile men after 3 months. Researchers believe this plant may help better manage stress, but this is limited to infertile men and may be linked to its fertility-enhancing effects [15].

4) High Prolactin Levels (Linked to Infertility)
High Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH) and prolactin levels signal that the pituitary gland is not functioning properly and can impair the function of the testes and reduce fertility in men [13, 14]

Mucuna pruriens decreased prolactin and FSH levels in two clinical trials of over 250 infertile men. Mucuna probably balances these hormones by boosting dopamine levels, which reduces the production of prolactin and FSH [13, 14].

High levels of prolactin may also be a result of low thyroid hormones, pituitary tumors, psychiatric drugs (such as antipsychotics), or other causes. Whether mucuna can help reduce slightly increased levels in conditions other than male infertility hasn’t been tested [16].

Small studies have suggested that mucuna may reduce stress and high prolactin linked to infertility in men, but further trials are needed.
5) Sleep
There is insufficient evidence to suggest that Mucuna pruriens improves sleep.

In a study of 18 people, a combination of Mucuna pruriens with another tropical herb (Chlorophytum borivilianum) improved sleep quality by 50% after about 4 weeks [17].

Despite various traditional anecdotes about the ability of these herbs to improve sleep quality, this was the first human study to investigate their effects. It’s still unknown what effect Mucuna alone might have on sleep quality.

There is insufficient evidence to suggest that Mucuna pruriens improves autism symptoms.

It’s well-known that dopamine is important for focus. In one study of 85 children and teenagers with ADHD, a combination of Mucuna pruriens with vitamins, minerals, and other supplements (vitamin C, calcium citrate, vitamin B6, folate, L-lysine, L-cysteine, and selenium) improved symptoms in 77% of the cases. This study had a high risk of bias, however [18].

Additionally, the protocol and supplement combination used in this study was envisioned to naturally increase serotonin and dopamine in the brain. The contribution of Mucuna to the observed effects is unknown.

Early research is encouraging, but proper clinical trials will need to test whether mucuna can improve sleep or ADHD symptoms.
Lacking Evidence For:
No clinical evidence supports the use of Mucuna pruriens for any of the conditions listed in this section.

Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

7) Snake Venom Poisoning
Mucuna pruriens extracts are traditionally used by Nigerians to prevent snake poisoning.

The powder is prescribed by traditional healers as a pretreatment (prophylactic) for snakebites. The healers claim that a person who swallows the intact the seeds will be protected for one full year against the effects of any snake bite [2].

No clinical studies back this up but some studies in tissues and animals provide some early clues.

In one study on rat hearts, Mucuna powder protected from the heart-damaging effects of cobra venom. In another study, mice pretreated with a Mucuna extract secreted more antibodies against a viper venom [19, 20].

Mucuna contains a sugar-bound protein, similar to snake venom proteins, which stimulates the production of antibodies [2].

Scientists hypothesize that these antibodies may stay in the body for long periods of time and prime the immune system, similar to vaccines. They might be able to “cross-react” with the actual snake venom once they come into contact with it, potentially protecting against serious poisoning [2].

8) Mood & Mental Health Effects
We talk about serotonin and norepinephrine much more often than about dopamine when it comes to depression. But scientists are starting to realize that dopamine, usually associated with motivation and feelings of reward, may play an equally important role [21].

It’s not so much that low dopamine, in general, can trigger low mood. Rather, its deficiency in specific parts of the brain is what might trigger symptoms.

Low dopamine in the brain’s emotional (mesolimbic) centers may cause the inability to feel pleasure, which is common in depression. Low dopamine in cognitive (mesocortical) areas may trigger a lack of motivation that people with depression often suffer from [21].

Scientists suspect that the dopamine-boosting action of Mucuna pruriens extract improved mood and symptoms of depression in mice. It also reduced their stress levels, showing all the desired characteristics of a good antidepressant [22].

Although interesting, these results are limited to animals. Clinical studies would need to determine the effects of Mucuna pruriens on mood in humans.

9) Effects on Parasites and Microbes
Mucuna pruriens is traditionally used to help fight parasitic infections, but clinical studies are completely lacking to support this use.

Folk healers claim that Mucuna a mild anti-parasitic. They often use it alongside other parasite cleanses/treatments. Such claims and protocols are unproven.

In lambs, Mucuna seeds slightly reduced the number of parasites but didn’t clear the infection. In goats, it improved digestion but didn’t reduce the parasite infection. In cells, its seed oil could paralyze but not also kill parasites [23].

The leaves of Mucuna pruriens are probably higher in potentially antibacterial compounds than the seeds. Mucuna leaf extracts were active against some bacteria in cells (probably due to their higher phenol and tannin content). We can’t draw any conclusions from cell-based studies, though [2].

10) Seizures
In mice, a leaf extract from Mucuna pruriens reduced seizures. It also reduced a type of muscle rigidity called catalepsy that’s linked to seizures, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s [24].

Scientists are exploring whether it has any anti-seizure effects due to the mixed effect of its L-dopa, serotonin, and antioxidant components. Further studies are needed [24].

11) Diabetes
Mucuna pruriens contains an inositol called d-chiro-inositol, which can mimic the effects of insulin and might help lower high sugar levels. A high dose of the seeds reduced blood sugar levels in mice [2].

12) Skin Health
Thanks to its antioxidant potential, Mucuna pruriens extracts are being researched for protecting skin cells. Scientists are hoping to see creams and gels with Mucuna for skin diseases such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, but many more studies are needed before this becomes a reality [2].