Mucuna is a plant from India. It is well known for its aphrodisiac properties and is also used to stimulate the deposition of proteins in muscles, as well as to help increase muscle strength and muscle mass and stimulate alertness and improve coordination. Its principle components are L-DOPA and the bioactive alkaloids mucunine, mucunadine, mucuadinine, prurienine and nicotine as well as b-sitosterol, glutathione, lectin, oils, venic and gallic acids.
History and Plant Description
The Mucuna pruriens is an annual climbing vine that can grow more than 25 feet in a season. It is a plant native to many tropical regions of the world, especially India and Africa. It produces beautiful purple flowers that hang in long clusters, followed by clusters of bean pods. The mature pods have a hair-like (velvety) covering that may cause itching to people sensitive to mucunain.
Commonly Used Names for Mucuna pruriens:
In the United States Mucuna pruriens is primarily known as velvet bean, mucuna, or cow-itch. On a World-wide basis, velvet bean has a multitude of other common names such as, cowhage, bengal bean, mauritius bean, itchy bean, krame, banana field bean, hamburger bean, picapica, chiporro, buffalo bean, sea beans, mule bean, ox-eye bean, faagiolo di rio negro, fogarate, jeukerwt, juckbohne, nd, pien tou, pois a gatter, cadjuet, liane grater, pois pouilleus, ceil de bourrique, swagupta, nescafe, kratzbohnen, ojo de venado, true sea-bean, kaw ai, pode mico, fava-coceira, de-frade, cabeca-de-frade, kiwach, and quenk mula.
Mucuna pruriens were introduced into the United States by the US Department of Agriculture around 1875, in the State of Florida. The Velvet Bean quickly became a very valuable crop in the southern US during the early to mid-1900’s. It was used extensively for livestock feed and as an enriching cover crop to re-nourish depleted soils. Velvet beans nearly disappeared from the US landscape in the 1960’s with advent of the soybean. Soybeans provided greater economic value as a cash crop. In addition, inadequate methods for mechanically harvesting the long vine velvet beans drastically reduced velvet bean acreage in the US. Today, however,velvet beans have been re-discovered and are being widely sought after and used in several different venues.
Agriculture – velvet beans are an excellent soil builder for restoring nutrient depleted soil. Velvet bean is a legume and uses nitrogen fixing bacteria in root nodules to produce nitrogen to improve the soil. Soil Building . . . Velvet beans are unsurpassed as a soil builder for restoring depleted garden soils. The rapid growing legume provides nitrogen to the soil and as much as 4,000 pounds of organic matter per ¼ acre plot, per growing season. A worn-out garden can be restored to a “nutrient and organic rich” garden in just one growing season.
Cattle food: Velvet bean seed and foliage provide a high protein food source for cattle.
Natural Nematicide: velvet beans provide natural nematicide properties for protecting other farm rotational crops from nematodes.
Wildlife Food: Velvet beans are a superior deer food and are actively sought out by wildlife managers for planting in wildlife food plots;
Herbal and Nutritional Supplement Products: Mucuna (velvet bean) has gained tremendous popularity as a health supplement and sports nutrition supplement.
How it works (Mechanism of action of Mucuna pruriens)
Mucuna increases L-Dopa levels and stimulates the deposition of growth hormone (HgH) by the pituitary gland, as well as stimulates the deposition of proteins in the muscles.
- Mucuna has white flowers, lavenders or purples;
- It is also known by some curious names as: mico powder, itchy beard, coward’s head, cowage, cow-itch, bengal bean, mauritius bean, itchy bean, krame, picapica, chiporro and buffalo bean;
- It is used in ayurvedic medicine to more than 4500 years;
- Mucuna’s planting fixes nitrogen on land by improving soil quality;-
- It is found in Africa, India and the Caribbean.
- It is tolerant to drought, shade, high temperatures;
- It is also used as a coffee, called “nescafe” (not to be confused with the trademark).
Reported Uses and Benefits of Mucuna pruriens:
For centuries Mucuna pruriens have been used throughout the world as a food staple, food supplement, and medicine for both humans and animals.
Velvet Bean seeds (Mucuna pruriens) contain high concentrations of levodopa (L-Dopa), a precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Velvet beans have long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for diseases including Parkinson’s Disease. In addition to levodopa, Mucuna also contains serotonin (5-HT), 5-HTP, N,N-DMT (DMT), bufotenine, and 5-MeO-DMT.
- Body building and Sports Supplement: Today many Natural Testosterone boosting supplement brands containing Mucuna extract are widely being used for enhancing muscles and increasing testosterone levels. Velvet beans contain growth hormones, testosterone, and several complex amino acids essential for muscle development.
- Aphrodisiac: Mucuna has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac to increase libido in both men and women, primarily due to the dopamine inducing effect.
- Well Being: Improves sense of well being and improves sleep: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes enjoyment and enhances interest in life.
- Helps reduce body fat and cellulite
- Helps to improve skin texture and appearance
- Increases energy levels
- Helps lower cholesterol levels
- Acts as a diuretic
- Coffee Substitute – Nescafe: In Central America, velvet beans are roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute, where it goes by the common name of “Nescafe” not to be confused with the commercial brand.
- Velvet beans have also been reported to produce psychedelic effects, and they have purportedly been used in ayahuasca (hallucinogenic ) preparations.
- De-wormer: The velvet (fuzzy) covering on the bean pods (trichomes) contain a compound called mucunain, which is a natural intestinal de-wormer
- Mucuna in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions
- Studies have also shown that Mucuna seeds can cause a significant increase in sperm count and ovulation in women. It is still used to increase libido in men and women because of its dopamine-inducing properties.
- Mucuna in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease
Clinical and preclinical studies show that Mucuna is of great importance in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Sixty patients with Parkinson’s disease with Mucuna were treated in an open study over 12 weeks. Statistically, there were significant reductions in Hoehn’s disease and unified Parkinson’s disease showing rates from baseline to completion of treatment.
Mucuna also showed to stimulate testosterone-enanthate induced by androgenic activity observed in a group of treated individuals.
In some studies, it has been shown to be as effective as levedopa / carbidopa medications, but there is no evidence of its long-term