Mucuna Pruriens (Fabaceae), widely known as “velvet bean”, is a vigorous annual climbing legume, originally from Southern China and Eastern India, Its seeds are shown to be of substantial medicinal importance.
Mucuna pruriens has been shown to have Anti-Parkinson and neuroprotective effects. It is also used widely in the management of male infertility and also as an aphrodisiac.
Mucunapruriens is well known by two Sanskrit names, Kapikacchu, which means “one starts itching like a monkey” and Atmagupta, which means “secret self,” and hints at the therapeutic value of the seed concealed within the allergenic seed pod.
Latin name: Mucuna pruriens
English name: Velvet beans
Malayalam name: Naikkurana
Sanskrit name: Kapikachchu, Atmagupta
- Species – Mucuna pruriens
- Family – Fabaceae
- Order – Fabales
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Kingdom –Plantae
It is an annual climber with long vines that reach about 15 meters above the ground. The plant is covered with fussy hairs when young and gets free of it as it gets older.
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The leaves are pinnate. The shape of leaves varies from ovate, reverse ovate, rhombus-shaped, or widely ovate. The leaves of the young plant are covered with hairs on both sides.
The sides of the leaves are pointed and heavily grooved. The flower heads are seen in the form of axially arrayed panicles. Mucuna pruriens bear white, lavender, or purple flowers.
Its seed pods are about 10 cm (4 inches) long and are covered in loose, orange hairs. The seeds are shiny black or brown
The useful part of this plant is the seeds.
Seeds of velvet beans are known to produce the unusual non-protein amino acid 3-(3,4- dihydroxy phenyl)-l-alanine (L-DOPA). It also contains glutathione, gallic acid, and beta-sitosterol.
Serotonin is present only in pods. The seeds also contain oils including palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids. The seeds of the plant also contain trace amounts of serotonin, nicotine, and bufotenine.
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Raw Mucuna seeds are rich in minerals (potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and selenium).
Mucuna pruriens is one of the plants that are active against snake venom and, indeed, its seeds are used in traditional medicine to prevent the toxic effects of snake bites. *Reports suggest that the seed powder of Mucuna pruriensis more beneficial to Parkinson’s patients than the synthetic drug, on long term use.
Rasam (taste): Sweet and bitter
Gunam (property): Guru (heavy), Snignam (unctuous)
Veeryam(potency) : Seetham (cold)
Vipakam (metabolic effect) :Madhura
Karmam (effect on body humor): Vata decreasing
Benefits of Mucuna pruriens
- Revitalizes both the male & female reproductive systems
- Improves libido
- Supports the intellect
- Improves energy & endurance
- Promotes healthy motor skills & coordination
- Supports physical balance & posture
- Is a natural source of levodopa (L-dopa)
- Supports the body’s ability to handle stress
- Supports a healthy central & peripheral nervous system
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The drug Mucunapruriens is beneficial in Raktaroga (bleeding disorders), Vata Vyadhi (Vata diseases- Neurologic disorders), Kampavata (tremors), Klaibya (impotency), Raktha pitta (orificial bleeding), Dourbalya (weakness).
This drug is used for therapeutic purposes by preparing the powder of dried seeds. The powder thus prepared is boiled with milk and taken at bedtime or before food depending on the digestive capacity and clinical condition of the patient.
Dosage may vary from 5 to 10grams. It may be a bit bitter but when compared to the benefits it provides, it is good to ignore the taste part of this wonder drug.
Zandopa and Kapikachu Churna are two commercial products available in the market for ready use.
Indications for Mucuna Powder
- Parkinson Disease
- Auto-Immune Disorders
- Neurologic disorders.
- Male Sexual Weakness.
A classical Ayurvedic preparation containing this drug is Mashatmagupthadi Kashayam explained in Bhavaprakasha Nighantu.
Dosage of Mucuna Powder
7.5 gms twice or thrice daily mixed with water 100ml of water suspend prescribed dose of powder, stir and drink immediately. Mucuna powder is readily soluble in water.
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Patients who can’t swallow the bulk may be advised to stir the powder in water for nearly one minute and strain to a container. A clear solution thus obtained may be consumed by the patient.
Mucuna contains natural Dopamine and the drop in the level of neurotransmitter Dopamine in the body is cause for the Parkinsons disease.
This is substituted by the natural dopamine present in the mucuna beans. The bioavailability of the dopamine in Mucuna is high compared to the synthetic dopamine. A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry Vol 75, Issue 12 confirms this factor.
Precautions for Mucuna Treatment.
All known precautions and contraindications as applicable to synthetic L-dopa formulation should also be followed while prescribing Mucuna. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, if taken by patients, must be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to the institution of Mucuna therapy.
Periodic screening of hepatic, hematopoietic, cardiovascular and renal functions are recommended during extended therapy with Mucuna pruriens.
Mucuna should be administered with caution in severe cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, bronchial asthma, renal, hepatic, or endocrine disease and in the presence of peptic ulcer or chronic narrow-angle glaucoma.
Major Brands of Mucuna Powder
Zandopa, Kapikachu Churna.
Research Studies on Mucuna pruriens
- A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry Vol 75, Issue 12 confirms the advantage of Mucuna pruriens advantage over other L- Dopa preparations. A double-blind clinical pharmacological study was conducted by R Katzenschlager, A Evans1, A Manson, P N Patsalos, N Ratnaraj, H Watt, L Timmermann, R Van der Giessen, A J Lees
- Paralysis agitans and levodopa in “Ayurveda”: Ancient Indian medical treatise by Dr. Bala V Manyam – https://doi.org/10.1002/mds.870050112
- Antidiabetic evaluation of Mucuna pruriens, Linn seeds. -A study conducted by Akhtar MS, Qureshi AQ, Iqbal J and published in JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association [01 Jul 1990, 40(7):147-150]
- The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens. A study conducted by Lampariello LR, Cortelazzo A, Guerranti R, Sticozzi C. Valacchi G and published in Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine [01 Oct 2012, 2(4):331-339]
We can conclude that the Mucuna pruriens is a wonderful remedy for neurodegenerative as well as male infertility conditions.