What does Mucuna Pruriens do?

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


Mucuna pruriens is a tropical annual plant with a long climbing vine that can reach more than 15 meters in height.

Young plants are almost completely covered by orange “hairs” that cause intense itching on contact.

Mucuna pruriens is cultivated for its medicinal properties and to make levodopa, the most important natural remedy for Parkinson's disease.

This levodopa is extracted from the powder of its seeds and is less toxic than synthetic forms like Sinemet and Madopar.

Antioxidant activity

Mucuna pruriens is a climbing legume that grows throughout the tropics, and is used as a forage, fallow and green manure crop.

It is known for its antibacterial and antidiabetic properties, but little is known about its antioxidant activity.

In this study, methanolic and aqueous extracts of Mucuna pruriens seeds were prepared. The seed extracts were then screened for their antioxidant potential using DPPH scavenging assay.

Those that showed free radical scavenging activity were subjected to further quantitative analysis.

Phytochemical analyses were performed to assess the concentrations of antioxidant compounds such as total phenols, flavonoids and total polyphenols.

The results revealed that mucuna pruriens seeds extract contained high levels of total phenols and antioxidant activity.

The extracts also had good anticancer activities in a rat liver cancer cell line, and demonstrated protection from hepatocellular oxidative stress.

The aqueous and ethanol extracts of Mucuna pruriens seed were screened for their antioxidant activity in the presence of methanolic DPPH as an indicator of free radical scavenging.

The results of these assays indicated that the ethanol extract had a higher level of antioxidant activity than other extractions.

Furthermore, the Mucuna pruriens seed extract showed potent hepatoprotective activity against ethanol-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats.

The treatment of the rats with Mucuna pruriens seed extract at 150 ug/ml was found to significantly protect the mucosal membrane from damage, thus, protecting against hepatocellular oxidative stress.

In addition, Mucuna pruriens seed extract was evaluated for its cytotoxic activity against human leukemia (HL-60) cells by using an in vitro culture model.

The treatment of HL-60 with Mucuna pruriens seed was shown to be effective in inhibiting cell growth and promoting apoptosis, while exhibiting no effect on cell survival.

L-DOPA is the major component of the seed and plays a vital role in its antiparkinsonian activity. However, the L-DOPA content in Mucuna pruriens seeds can vary widely, depending on the cultivar and the source of the plant.

In order to quantify the L-DOPA content in Mucuna seeds, a rapid reversed-phase high-performance thin-layer chromatographic method was developed.

The method was validated by comparing the results with standard commercial methods. The results showed that the Mucuna pruriens seed had high levels of L-DOPA.

Anti-lipid peroxidation activity

Antioxidants are important in preventing the formation of free radicals in a wide range of biological systems and are critical for normal human function as well as health.

In addition, they protect against oxidative damage to DNA and other organelles in the body, which can lead to pathological conditions such as aging and cancer.

A number of antioxidant compounds have been identified in nature and can be used as natural medicines.

Among these, mucuna pruriens seeds are known to contain levodopa and have been described as useful therapeutic agents in various diseases of the human nervous system including Parkinson's disease in Ayurvedic medicine.

The anti-lipid peroxidation activity of the seed extracts was evaluated using the hydrogen peroxide-induced lipid peroxidation assay.

Lipid peroxidation consists of the decomposition of fats and proteins to free radicals (hydrogen peroxide, superoxide anion, malondialdehyde, hydroxyl radical, and aldehydes).

These radicals subsequently oxidize reduced glutathione (GSSG) back to GSH and consume NADPH, a key enzyme in the detoxification pathway that is essential for cell survival.

Using this assay, several doses of the M. pruriens extracts were titrated against control rat brain homogenate, and thiobarbituric acid (TBA) was added to detect the lipid peroxides formed.

The amount of TBARS formed was measured spectrophotometrically at 532 nm, and the difference between the TBARS concentration of the control and treated sample indicates the antioxidant activity of the extract.

In another experiment, a high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) method was used to assess the phenolic content of M. pruriens seed coat extracts.

The TSCE-W exhibited a higher total phenolic content and DPPH and 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging activities as compared to the TSCE-E extract.

The TSCE-W also exhibited significant lipid peroxidation inhibitory activity against H202-damaged human foreskin fibroblast CCD-1064Sk cells in an in vitro study.

HPTLC was carried out on silica gel plates using Camag Linomat V sample applicator in N2 flow at a rate of -50 nL/s.

The L-dopa based signals were resolved with high resolution and the other signals were hardly visible, suggesting that the M. pruriens extracts possessed high phenolic content.

Anti-dyskinesia activity

Mucuna pruriens is a legume that has been used as an alternative to L-dopa in treating Parkinson's disease (PD).

However, the long-term use of mucuna pruriens or l-dopa can result in movement disorders or dyskinesia.

Dyskinesia is a condition that causes a person to make involuntary movements, usually on their face or tongue.

It typically happens when people take medications that block dopamine receptors, including antipsychotics. It can also occur if you drink too much alcohol or smoke cigarettes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The anti-dyskinesia activity of mucuna pruriens can be attributed to the presence of L-dopa in its seed extracts. It can also be attributed to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties of mucuna pruriens.

Moreover, the anti-dyskinesia effect of mucuna pruriens is likely to be due to its ability to prevent the degradation of dopamine in the brain. Degradation of dopamine can cause neuronal cell death, which is thought to lead to the development of PD.

Additionally, mucuna pruriens has also been shown to have the ability to protect neurons from the damage that is caused by MPTP.

Specifically, it can inhibit the formation of toxic MPTP adducts and oxidative stress in neurons. This has led researchers to believe that mucuna pruriens can help treat the symptoms of PD and improve quality of life.

Other studies have also shown that mucuna pruriens is effective in controlling movement disorders in patients with Parkinson's disease.

In a double-blind clinical trial, mucuna pruriens was found to be more effective than L-dopa in controlling movement disorders.

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Dopamine Booster

Mucuna Pruriens, commonly referred to as the “magical velvet bean,” has been used in traditional herbal medicine for many years. Its soft and velvety seed pods are a natural source of L-dopa, which is an amino acid that helps your brain produce dopamine.

This does wonders for your mood and emotional well-being. Boosting dopamine levels in the brain can help you stay motivated and alert. It may also help reduce anxiety and stress.

Dopamine is also important for your memory and learning skills. Research shows that taking a supplement with L-dopa can boost your concentration and increase your reaction time.

While Mucuna Pruriens has long been used to improve the quality of sleep, new studies show it can also help reduce stress and improve your overall mood.

Researchers found that men and women who took a dietary supplement with velvet bean improved their sleep quality by almost 20%.

It is also thought that Mucuna Pruriens can improve your mood by boosting serotonin levels, which can lead to feelings of calmness and happiness. However, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor before taking this supplement.

Mucuna Pruriens is also known for its ability to help reduce symptoms of depression in people with low serotonin levels.

It has been shown to lower the amount of homovanillic acid in the brains of depressed patients compared to healthy controls, which can help prevent depression from progressing.


Mucuna Pruriens is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat more than 200 diseases and is a natural anti-Parkinson’s treatment.

In addition to enhancing the body’s dopamine levels, it also increases libido and semen quality, improves digestion and reduces stress. It is a good diuretic and lowers cholesterol and glucose levels in people with diabetes or high blood pressure.

In Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells that produce dopamine in the brain die and the neurons no longer send signals to areas of the brain that control muscle movement. This can cause symptoms such as shaking or stiffness, slow movements and tremors.

These symptoms can start slowly and may not be noticed for years or even decades. Other non-motor symptoms include lightheadedness on standing up (orthostatic hypotension), constipation, urinary incontinence and loss of sense of smell.

Aside from this, many other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can appear years or decades before motor symptoms and be difficult to diagnose. 

These include problems with the autonomic nervous system, such as orthostatic hypotension, constipation and sleep disorders like periodic limb movement disorder and rapid eye movement behavior disorder.

Until now, the main treatment for Parkinson’s disease has been levodopa tablets such as Sinemet and Madopar, which can be very expensive.

However, a recent study revealed that Mucuna Pruriens can provide the same effect with less cost and without the side effects associated with these drugs.

This has been a big help to patients in third world countries, who cannot afford these medications.

Psychoanaleptic activity

New figures from Danmarks Statistik show that more and more young people are on medication used to treat depression and ADHD.

They also reveal that ethnic Danes are more likely to be on such a medication than descendents of immigrants from non-western countries.

The most expensive drug by far is L-DOPA, the main ingredient in the most important and popular Parkinson’s treatment.

The fact that L-DOPA is a prescription drug makes it difficult to use as a nutritional supplement in many western countries.

Nevertheless, almost L-DOPA free part extract of mucuna pruriens (Juckbohne, Cocahage, velvet bean) is known to have a psychoanaleptic effect.


The seeds of Mucuna pruriens (also called the cowhage or velvet bean) have long been revered in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, both for their therapeutic properties and as a food source.

This plant is a powerful, natural adaptogen that lowers stress, boosts the libido and elevates mood.

Mucuna pruriens is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries to support mental, physical and spiritual health.

It is an incredibly versatile and nourishing tonic that can be used to address a range of issues, including insomnia, stress and fatigue, irritability, and weakened immune function.

Dopamine boosting

In Ayurvedic medicine, Mucuna pruriens is considered to be a very beneficial adaptogen that helps improve mood and libido, increase focus, decrease anxiety, and reduce depression. In addition, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and manage diabetes.

Sleep inducing

Mucuna pruriens has been shown to promote restful, deep sleep by reducing the production of cortisol and promoting melatonin in the brain. It has also been shown to boost the levels of serotonin, which promotes a sense of well-being and a more balanced mood.


Mucuna has been shown to be effective in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The active ingredient in Mucuna pruriens is L-dopa, a dopamine precursor that increases the body’s supply of this essential neurotransmitter.


Preliminary studies have shown that methanolic extracts of the leaves of mucuna pruriens have significant in vitro anti-microbial, and anti-oxidant activities. They have also been found to act as a potential therapeutic agent against liver and kidney diseases.

Moreover, methanolic extracts of the leaves have been reported to protect rats against exposure to CCl4 and rifampicin in a similar fashion to silymarin.

It also significantly restored deranged biochemical and histopathological parameters in the liver and kidney, with a comparable potency to silymarin.

It is possible that the hepatoprotective and nephroprotective effects of methanolic extracts of mucuna pruriens can be attributed to an alteration in purine metabolism.

This is due to the presence of dietary antioxidants such as flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins and steroids in the extracts, which are capable of inhibiting the synthesis of uric acid by purine synthases.

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