Mucuna is an ingredient that comes from the creeping vine known as mucuna pruriens. It is more commonly known as the "velvet" bean. This nickname comes from the hairs that cover the seed pods. However, it is worth noting that the mucuna bean's pod can cause severe irritation when it comes into contact with human skin.
Traditional Health Benefits of Mucuna
Traditionally, Mucuna is used for Brain & Cognitive Support and Testosterone Support. The seeds of the mucuna pruriens contain L-dopa, as well as tannins and phenols. The properties of these nutrients offer several medicinal benefits to users. Mucuna pruriens also contain hallucinogenic tryptamines; however, there are negligible amounts of these hallucinogenic tryptamines in mucuna supplements.
What is Mucuna Used For?
Mucuna may have numerous benefits to the mind and body, including the following: Produces More Dopamine, Reduces the Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, Increases Sperm Count and Motility, Boosts Testosterone and Libido and Acts as a Natural Antidepressant
Products Containing Mucuna
Benefits of Mucuna
Studies have shown that the entire mucuna pruriens plant offers health benefits, as it contains significant amounts of crude protein, essential amino acids and starch. However, it is the bean that offers the majority of benefits.1 Parkinson's Disease Mucuna contains L-dopa, which is a precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for basic motor functioning and hand-eye coordination. Those who suffer from Parkinson's disease have lower levels of dopamine, which means they have a harder time coordinating their body movements. Since mucuna has a significant amount of L-dopa, it has been shown to be a natural way to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's.2 Studies have shown that mucuna may be a natural alternative to Levodopa3, which is a medication frequently prescribed to Parkinson's sufferers. Male Infertility Suffering from infertility can be frustrating and embarrassing. Studies have shown that mucuna can help men who struggle with infertility by improving their levels of testosterone, L-dopa, adrenaline and noradrenaline.5 This leads to an increase in sperm count and motility. Male Sexual Function Mucuna pruriens is known as a natural aphrodisiac and has been shown to enhance male sexual function.4 Many men suffer from low libido and erectile dysfunction. Mucuna as a supplement can boost hormone levels and restore male libido and sexual function. Antidepressant Dopamine is not only responsible for coordinating the body's movements, but it impacts positive emotions and that "feel good" excitement. Due to mucuna's ability to increase levels of dopamine in the brain, it has the ability to act as a natural antidepressant.5 It is also as a stress reducer, which in turn improves mood and eases symptoms of depression and anxiety.
How to Use Mucuna
Mucuna is typically taken orally as a dietary supplement. Mucuna supplements normally come in either powder or capsule form. As with anything, there can be too much of a good thing. It's important to regulate your intake of mucuna supplements. If you have any questions about the recommended dosage for you and your individual needs, consult your medical professional.
Effects of Taking Too Much Mucuna
Taking too much mucuna and having excessive amounts of L-dopa can lead to unwanted side effects. These side effects include heart palpitations, nausea, sweating and elevated blood pressure. Individuals with depression are also sensitive to mucuna. Depression sufferers often have low levels of serotonin, and excessive amounts of L-dopa can further decrease the production of serotonin, which can exacerbate symptoms of depression.
Foods that Contain Mucuna
Mucuna is only found in the mucuna pruriens vine, and it is most effective when it is taken as a supplement. Mucuna can be incorporated into foods, but most avoid doing so because of the chemical changes that occur during the cooking process. The benefit of cooking mucuna is that the heat renders trypsin inhibitors useless, which makes for easier digestion. However, cooking also destroys L-Dopa, which is the most beneficial component of mucuna.
Citations and Sources
1. Aware C, Patil R, Vyavahare G, Gurav R, Bapat V, Jadhav J. Processing Effect on L-DOPA, In Vitro Protein and Starch Digestibility, Proximate Composition, and Biological Activities of Promising Legume: Mucuna macrocarpa. J Am Coll Nutr. January 2019:1-10. [PubMed] 2. Radder D, Tiel G, Boers I, Muilwijk E, Bloem B. Mucuna Pruriens Combined with Carbidopa in Parkinson’s Disease: A Case Report. J Parkinsons Dis. March 2019. [PubMed] 3. Johnson S, Park H, DaSilva N, Vattem D, Ma H, Seeram N. Levodopa-Reduced Mucuna pruriens Seed Extract Shows Neuroprotective Effects against Parkinson’s Disease in Murine Microglia and Human Neuroblastoma Cells, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Drosophila melanogaster. Nutrients. 2018;10(9). [PubMed] 4. Suresh S, Prakash S. Effect of Mucuna pruriens (Linn.) on sexual behavior and sperm parameters in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male rat. J Sex Med. 2012;9(12):3066-3078. [PubMed] 5. Rana D, Galani V. Dopamine mediated antidepressant effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds in various experimental models of depression. Ayu. 2014;35(1):90-97. [PubMed]
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