Mucuna Pruriens was used as a traditional folk remedy for various ailments since 1500 BC. Through modern science, we now know the seeds of this plant contain significant amounts of natural L-Dopa that helps increase levels of Dopamine in the brain which may lead to powerful effects related to mood, cognition, motivation, mental energy and even sexual health.
What is Mucuna Pruriens?
Mucuna Pruriens is a natural brain supplement most commonly used to improve mood. Also known as Velvet bean, it is a legume plant that naturally grows in the tropical climates of the Carribean and in certain areas in Africa and India.
The seed pods of this plant either have soft hairs called velvet bean or stinging hairs called cowhage or cowitch which are known to contain Serotonin and the protein mucunain which can cause severe itching when in contact with the skin.
The seeds themselves are harvested, dried and ground into powder or concentrated into an extract.
Various parts of this plant were thought to have been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India as a folk remedy for arthritis, pain relief, parasitic infections, snake bites, kampavata (symptoms of Parkinson’s disease), melancholy moods and as an herbal aphrodisiac.
The plant contains alkaloids, saponins, terpenoids, tannins and other constituents that may act as powerful anti-oxidants. A major one is found in the seeds of Mucuna Pruriens which contains high amounts of L-Dopa or Levodopa (L-3, 4 dihydroxyphenylalanines) a natural precursor to catecholamine neurotransmitters including Epinephrine, Norepinephrine and the powerful mood influencing chemical Dopamine, considered vital to emotional and physical well-being.
Low Dopamine levels have been associated with feelings of depression, mood swings, lowered ability to cope with stress, low motivation, inability to concentrate, fatigue and low libido.
In severe cases, deficiency of this neurotransmitter is linked to serious health issues like Parkinson’s disease where purified Levodopa is a commonly accepted treatment. The potential use of Mucuna extracts to help improve symptoms of this disease when in conjunction with conventional drugs is currently being researched.
Dopamine itself cannot be supplemented since it can’t cross the blood-brain barrier or the lining that protects the brain from the rest of the body but L-Dopa has a transport protein that allows it to pass through, quickly converting into Dopamine and helping to increase its levels in the brain.
Due to Mucuna Pruriens extracts connection with Dopamine, this supplement is most commonly used as an herbal remedy to boost mood and mental drive, fight feelings of depression and increase libido. Many users even report improvements in mental alertness and an enhanced ability to focus and concentrate.
This article will discuss the benefits and Nootropic effects associated with Mucuna Pruriens extract, how it works, side effects and how to use this potentially powerful mood booster.
Mucuna Pruriens Benefits For Mood, Energy and Cognition
Mucuna Pruriens extract is reported to be a fast acting and excellent supplement to help naturally boost mood, mental energy and drive. Many users even report experiencing perceived Nootropic effects such as enhanced cognition, focus and concentration.
These effects are thought to be attributed to the significant presence of L-Dopa found in this supplement which is produced in the body from the amino acid L-tyrosine and is a direct precursor to various neurochemicals such as Epinephrine, Norepinephrine and the mood-influencing chemical messenger Dopamine or what is sometimes referred to as the “feel good neurotransmitter”.
Mucuna Pruriens is the only naturally occurring source of L-Dopa and contains it in high concentrations. L-Dopa is needed to produce Dopamine in the brain, a well-known neurochemical associated with feelings of pleasure, motivation, mental energy, perceived confidence, focus, motor control and cognition.
In fact, all the benefits associated with this supplement are related to L-Dopa which unlike Dopamine itself, is able to penetrate through the blood-brain barrier and make it possible to safely increase the levels of this important neurotransmitter in the brain.
In addition, L-Dopa is a precursor to neurotransmitters epinephrine (Adrenaline) and norepinephrine, which are involved in the body’s natural response to acute stress and is linked to the way the brain pays attention, promoting mental alertness and faster reaction time. A deficiency in Norepinephrine levels has been linked to ADHD.
The elevated levels of all these neurotransmitters and neural hormones may be why many users report that using Mucuna Pruriens helps promote a natural feeling boost of energy, feelings of positivity, pleasure, motivation, enhanced focus and a sense of calmness.
Finally, the seeds of the Mucuna pruriens plant are also thought to contain compounds that act as antioxidants which may help to remove free radicals in the brain that can lead to damaging or even killing brain cells and negatively affecting cognition and mood.
At this time, Mucuna Pruriens is not approved by the FDA to treat or prevent any conditions. Research on the effects of this supplement relating to Parkinson’s Disease has been very promising, however, more research is needed to rate its effectiveness.
Mucuna Pruriens For Boosting Libido and Testosterone
Mucuna Pruriens may have potential benefits for sexual health in both women and men but more predominantly in men. For centuries, the Mucuna Pruriens plant was traditionally used to help boost libido and considered a unique aphrodisiac.
Today, we know Mucuna pruriens contains L-Dopa, a direct precursor to Dopamine which affects the production and activity of several hormones. There are links between elevated Dopamine, heightened libido and the potential synthesis of testosterone which may be why some individuals use Mucuna Pruriens to boost testosterone.
Higher levels of Dopamine can result in stimulating the release of the prohormone GnRH (involved in the production of sperm cells), inhibiting the release of prolactin (hormone that decreases testosterone) and upregulate androgen receptors that may help boost testosterone levels. Mucuna pruriens has also shown to boost HGH levels (human growth hormone) which may support increased muscle gain and fat metabolism.
Low levels of testosterone have been linked to higher risks of cardiovascular issues, male fertility problems and low libido, suggesting that higher levels of testosterone may help improve sexual desire in men.
Mucuna Pruriens Side Effects and Dosage
Mucuna Pruriens is considered typically well tolerated in most healthy users. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database has rated Mucuna Pruriens as Possibly Safe for oral use when taken in the proper dosages by adults.
In clinical studies, reports of unfavorable side effects are rare and Mucuna was used safely for periods up to 20 weeks. However, there are a few side effects associated with this supplement that can occur in some people including nausea, insomnia, headaches, apathy, dizziness, and even potential confusion. These adverse side effects are considered uncommon and may be related to excessively high doses.
If you experience side effects, you should discontinue use immediately or perhaps try lowering the dose substantially.
Most people typically report using 200 mg-500 mg per day of Mucuna for mood enhancement. It is not recommended to exceed 1,000 mg in total per day. While the proper dosage of this supplement can vary depending on different factors such as weight, age and reason for use, you may want to start at a 200 mg dose first to determine how your body reacts and only raise the dosage as needed.
In addition, it is recommended to cycle Mucuna Pruriens and use it only a few days a week or when needed. This may help to avoid the possibility of building a tolerance to this supplement and lower the risk of side effects or dependency. You may want to try cycling this supplement with L-Tyrosine, which is used to raise the production of Dopamine to support enhanced mood.
This supplement has many interactions with drugs, herbs and supplements. It is highly recommended to speak with your doctor first before using this supplement to ensure there are no interactions with your current medications or supplements that you are taking.
Mucuna Pruriens is recommended for adults only. Children or pregnant or nursing women should avoid this supplement due to lack of research.
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