Is mucuna pruriens the mood- and libido-boosting productivity you’ve been looking for?
Known as the dopa bean, mucuna pruriens is a natural herbal supplement used in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient practice from India, that lowers stress, reduces anxiety, improves focus, boosts the libido, and elevates mood.
“Mucuna pruriens has an almost magical ability to improve motivation, well-being, energy, and sex drive along with decreasing the tendency to overeat,” says acupuncturist Karen Kurtak, LAc, co-author of “The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Living Forever,” and department head of Longevity Nutrition at Grossman Wellness Institute, in Denver.
Mucuna pruriens is a type of adaptogen, healing plants that regulate hormones to help your body better handle stress. Specifically, mucuna pruriens contains high levels of naturally occurring L-dopa, the precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a major role in motivation, pleasure, and emotions. Without enough dopamine, you wind up lethargic, unfocused, and even depressed. People with Parkinson’s disease also lack dopamine. Too much dopamine, on the other hand, is linked to impulsive, thrill-seeking behavior.
If this latter personality sounds like you, probably best to pass on a dopa bean supplement. For everyone else, here’s what you need to know about this therapeutic bean before buying.
M. pruriens is a popular Indian medicinal plant, which has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine, for diseases including parkinsonism (Sathiyanarayanan et al., 2007). This plant is widely used in Ayurveda, which is an ancient traditional medical science that has been practiced in India since the Vedic times (1500–1000 BC). M. pruriens is reported to contain L-dopa as one of its constituents (Chaudhri, 1996). The beans have also been employed as a powerful aphrodisiac in Ayurveda (Amin, 1996) and have been used to treat nervous disorders and arthritis (Jeyaweera, 1981). The bean, if applied as a paste on scorpion stings, is thought to absorb the poison (Jeyaweera, 1981).
The non-protein amino acid-derived L-dopa (3,4-dihydroxy phenylalanine) found in this under-utilized legume seed resists attack from insects, and thus controls biological infestation during storage. According to D’Mello (1995), all anti-nutritional compounds confer insect and disease resistance to plants. Further, L-dopa has been extracted from the seeds to provide commercial drugs for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. L-Dopa is a potent neurotransmitter precursor that is believed, in part, to be responsible for the toxicity of the Mucunaseeds (Lorenzetti et al., 1998). Anti-epileptic and anti-neoplastic activity of methanol extract of M. pruriens has been reported (Gupta et al., 1997). A methanol extract of MP seeds has demonstrated significant in vitro anti-oxidant activity, and there are also indications that methanol extracts of M. pruriens may be a potential source of natural anti-oxidants and anti-microbial agents (Rajeshwar et al., 2005).
All parts of M. pruriens possess valuable medicinal properties and it has been investigated in various contexts, including for its anti-diabetic, aphrodisiac, anti-neoplastic, anti-epileptic, and anti-microbial activities (Sathiyanarayanan et al., 2007). Its anti-venom activities have been investigated by Guerranti et al. (2002) and its anti-helminthic activity has been demonstrated by Jalalpure (2007). M. pruriens has also been shown to be neuroprotective (Misra and Wagner, 2007), and has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity (Hishika et al.,
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