Health Effects of Mucuna Pruriens (L-DOPA)

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Mucuna pruriens is yet another of the lesser known herbal supplements available today. Most of those supplementing with mucuna pruriens do so based on the thinking that it can increase libido and enhance sexual potency. It is also believed to have the capacity to increase testosterone and human growth hormone levels in the body, making it an appealing performance enhancing supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.

A few studies suggest that mucuna pruriens may also have cognitive enhancing properties. It is a good natural source of L-Dopa, a dopamine precursor, which accounts for the highly animated discussions about it in the nootropic community forums. Since mucuna pruriens has been found to be an excellent source of naturally occurring L-Dopa, it is also being prescribed as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

Mucuna pruriens

Native to the Indian and African continents, mucuna pruriens plant has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as treatment for a variety of mental illnesses. It is technically a legume that has a purple exterior and is very itchy to the touch. The plant is also used as a first aid for snakebites, for which it has shown some level of effectiveness.

Just like some herbal supplements, mucuna pruriens is rich in antioxidants. Supplementation with it may also improve help improve the body’s immune response and rid the body of free radicals. Its action as a sexual potency enhancer on the other hand is believed to result from its ability to affect the body’s hormone levels and protect the sperm stores at the same time.

Discussions about the cognitive enhancing effects of mucuna pruriens almost always center on its natural L-Dopa content. Most of its L-Dopa stores are concentrated in the beans, where it is also believed to be the best source of it from the plant in terms of quality. L-Dopa or levodopa, is a dopamine precursor. Dopamine is an important brain chemical believed to be responsible for feelings of positivity, increased motivation, and energy. L-Dopa is also believed to make the functions of the neurotransmitters in the brain more efficient as a secondary effect of the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

While the nootropic properties of mucuna pruriens are far from being established, many users attest to its ability to improve brain performance. Some users report of increased concentration and focus, and the ability to think clearly. Adding perhaps to its nootropic effects is also the proven ability of mucuna pruriens to reduce and even prevent feelings of anxiety and depression.

While supplementing with mucuna pruriens is generally regarded safe, taking it in high doses may lead to headaches, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and sleeplessness. Individuals allergic to legumes may also experience varying reactions to its supplementation. Much like other herbal supplements, one needs to supplement consistently with mucuna pruriens for at least eight weeks for its nootropic properties to take effect.

PROS

  1. All natural.
  2. A good source of natural L-Dopa.
  3. It makes the processes in the brain more efficient.
  4. It has a lot of side benefits.
  5. Relatively cheap and readily available.

CONS

  1. Its nootropic effects are not well defined.
  2. It may not work well when taken on its own.
  3. It has unpleasant side effects.

Since there is very little data regarding the optimum dose to take for cognitive enhancement, it is advised that one should take mucuna pruriens in increasing increments of 5 grams daily to determine what dosage works best for you. Levodopa has a lot of contraindications, so it will be best to consult a physician before supplementing with mucuna pruriens.

Comments

  1. Top Model Paul says:

    Excellent article. I absolutely love this site. Had no idea that velvet beans could be so useful!
    Stick with it!

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