Mucuna Pruriens Effects

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


Your body is a temple, and if you’re trying to sculpt it to meet your needs and achieve your fitness targets, then you need to treat it as such.

That means working hard to ensure that you get the right fuel and that your body has everything it needs to perform optimally.

If you want to be at the top of your fitness game at all times, you’ll need to ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs.

Often, it’s hard to get everything that you need from your food and drink, which means that you need to consider supplementing your diet with capsules and powders.

Most athletes and fitness lovers choose to add additional products to their diets, but there are so many out there that it can be tough for you to choose to right ones that meet your requirements.

If you’re looking to add muscle mass and become fitter, faster and stronger, then you need to find the right solutions to benefit you and your body.

There are many vitamins and minerals out there that can help you to improve your stamina and increase muscle mass, but as mentioned previously, not all of them will be found in your diet, no matter however varied it might be.

That’s why so many fitness fans and athletes choose to explore a variety of natural supplements to enrich their diets and ensure that they earn the body that they desire.

One potentially useful addition to your fitness regime that you might not have considered yet is Mucuna Pruriens, a type of seed that can be helpful in boosting your body’s natural production of the male sex hormone testosterone. [1]

The seeds are a prominent holistic remedy used by healers and athletes globally, but it’s not as commonly known in Western society.

Mucuna Pruriens (MP) is a key ingredient in our Military Muscle supplement, so our team understands why you should incorporate it into your diet and supplement selection.

If you’re looking to include MP in your wellness regime, or you’re not sure what it is, and at all, then this is the article for you.

This article will cover:

  • What Are Mucuna Pruriens?
  • How Can Mucuna Pruriens Benefit Your Fitness Regime
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Male Fertility
  • Stress
  • Neuroprotection
  • Diabetes
  • L-DOPA or Mucuna Pruriens?
  • Side Effects?
  • How Long Does It Take?
  • How Can You Take Mucuna Pruriens?
  • Summary

What Are Mucuna Pruriens?

mucuna pruriens effects

 Known by many names, including Cowhage and the Velvet Bean, Mucuna Pruriens are tropical legumes that grow on stalks.

The climbing plants that these beans grow on are native to Africa and some parts of Tropical Asia. When harvested, the beans are black and shiny. They come in large pods, and when removed from the plant, they are dried and de-husked.

The plant itself, and the bean it produces, are known to cause extreme itchiness when they come into contact with human skin.

As such, care is always taken when harvesting the beans. In some countries, such as Indonesia, the beans are cooked into delicious dishes, but often they are used in medicine due to the anti-oxidant effects. [2]

Once they are dried, these beans can be ground up into a powder and then used in various health products and supplements.

In their ground state, mucuna pruriens is often used in traditional medicine by many cultures around the world. The beans can be used to treat everything from snake bites through to Parkinson’s disease where it is proving to be an effective remedy. [3]

Additionally, as the bean helps the body to regulate testosterone, mucuna pruriens can be a great natural remedy for male infertility. [4]

Mucuna pruriens remains a popular traditional ingredient in many medicines in various countries worldwide, and Western medicine has started to catch up and notice the benefits of the bean.

Studies are ongoing, but in the future, the bean could be used to treat serious illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). [5]

How Can Mucuna Pruriens Benefit Your Fitness Regime?

mucuna pruriens effects

As highlighted above, this versatile bean offers a lot of natural remedies and can be a beneficial addition to the wellness regimes of a variety of individuals.

What does this mean for your workout? Well, mucuna pruriens can be a great solution for anyone who wants to bulk up and get themselves motivated for their next exercise session.

That’s because MP improves the body’s production of dopamine and testosterone, as the beans are a rich source of L-DOPA (3, 4-dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine), the precursor to these hormones. [6]

Dopamine is also known as the ‘happiness hormone’ or the ‘feel-good hormone’, so it can make you feel more cheerful and give you extra motivation.

Testosterone is the male sex hormone, which jumpstarts your motivation and can give you increased energy levels, libido and more drive for both men and women. [7]

That means that the bean can help you to get the most out of your workouts and improve your sex life as well.

Sex is crucial for your overall wellbeing, so improving your libido could enhance other aspects of your life, including your exercise regime. It could also make you perform better at work or improve relationships. [8]

Mucuna Pruriens for Bodybuilding

There's a link between MP and hormone production due to neurochemical transmitters and the endocrine system. This could be beneficial for anyone looking to get an edge in sport.


Greater testosterone production means that you can improve your muscle mass and build a strong body as the sex hormone enhances muscle protein synthesis. [9]

That means that MP could be the ideal solution for anyone who wants to build mass and for bodybuilders.

This is because a study conducted amongst 150 men at the Department of Biochemstry, Urology, and Gynecology at the C.S.M Medical University at Lucknow in India found that 3 months treatment with MP increased testosterone and luteinizing hormone. [10]

MP works by reducing prolactin levels (due to the L-Dopa content) which is found in both genders, but moreso in females. [11]

In fact, during pregnancy and after childbirth, prolactin levels soar because the hormone causes the breasts to grow and produce milk. [12]

If prolactin levels are high in men it can lead to a reduce libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased body hair and is associated with low testosterone. [13]

The active constituents within MP which include L-DOPA along with its metabolites epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine stimulate a chain reaction which starts in the hypothalamus and ends in the Leydig cells of the testes to produce testosterone. [14]

The hypothalamus is a vital part of the brain that controls many vital body functions and processes ranging from hormone balance, to regulating blood pressure and temperature. 

military muscle testosterone booster banner

Human Growth Hormone

Let's get back on to the L-DOPA found in MP, because it is important for muscle growth, and those potentially looking to be bodybuilders or already involved but looking for that extra push. 

A study from 1986 which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that just 5000mg of L-DOPA significantly increased growth hormone levels in normal subjects without any health issues. [15]

A previous study from the 1970s also studied the effects of L-DOPA on children; it was discovered that growth hormone was released a mere 30 minutes after ingestion of 5000mg. [16]

A further study from 1979 also confirmed the positive effects L-DOPA has on growth hormone release, the results were considered to be the conversion to catecholamines which are hormones made by the adrenal glands. [17]

If you weren't entirely convinced about the effects of human growth hormone, bear in mind that recombinant human growth hormone has been on the list of forbidden substances in sport since the 1990s due to its potential anabolic effects. [18]

However, the key word here is recombinant which relates to genetically engineered DNA not growth hormone that is naturally produced by the body which is what L-DOPA can help stimulate. 

Therefore, the L-DOPA from mucuna pruriens does not feature on the list of banned substances. 

All of these benefits mean that MP could be a great addition to your wellness regime, and fitness fans should consider taking it before their workout.

Do you want to learn more about the benefits of testosterone? CLICK HERE

Mucuna Pruriens Dosage for Bodybuilding

By taking these studies in to account, there's a stark similarity among the doses. The positive effects for testosterone and growth hormone are when 5000mg (0.5g) of MP is used for oral ingestion. 

As such, if muscle and strength building is your priority, this is the daily dose you should be looking to take. 

Mucuna Pruriens and Erectile Dysfunction

mucuna pruriens benefits libido

Research in to the antioxidant activity of MP showed that it was able to protect the tissue of the penis from oxidative stress in the animal model, and as such is considered a plausable treatment for those suffering from diabetes-induced impotency. [19]

Another animal model looking in to the effects of MP on age related erectile dysfunction also noted significant recovery after treatment. [20]

It's Effects on Libido

Increased sexual activity was reported amongst male albino rats was quite significant when they were administered a dose of MP seed powder. It has also been noted that the L-DOPA content of the seed was responsible for the increase in sexual desire among Parkinson's patients. [21]

Animal Model?

At this point you may be think that all these results are great, but the studies are on rats, not humans, so how does that relate to us?

Well, you may be interested to hear that rats have long been the preferred species for biomedical research due to their anatomical, genetic and physiological similarities to humans. [22]

Therefore, rat model testing is a easy way to understand how humans would react to treatments and administration of drugs or plant extracts. And, while it may not be considered ethical in everyone's eyes, using the rodent model has served as an important platform to gain a greater understanding of the human physiology. 

Male Fertility 

We cannot discuss erectile function and libido without looking in to fertility, that's because the endocrine system encapsulates the hormone producing glands which are responsible for reproduction, sexual function, growth, tissue development and testosterone. [23]

Thus, if MP effects one constituent, it is likley to effect the others. This is because androgens (as we have discussed earlier with the effects on testosterone) play a crucial role in fertility, penis function and puberty. So, if someone is suffering from low testosterone ths is likley to have a knock on effect which may reduce libido, sexual function and fertility. [24]

With this in mind, it will come as no surprise to learn that clincal studies have confirmed treatment with MP extract increases sperm concentrations and motility for subjects with a low sperm count. [25]

Notably MP also improves semen quality and increases spermatogenesis as outlined by a published study from 2008. [26]


The National Health Service of the United Kingdom explans that stress is the reaction to mental or emotional pressure. During times of stress your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. [27]

Hormones such as cortisol help the body process many functions such blood sugar levels, the nervous system, muskoskeletal among other, but in times of high stress it shuts down the functions that are deemed nonessential in a 'fight-or-flight' scenario. [28]

This is ideal in a scenario where your life may be a risk, but overtime, if cortisol levels remain too high or are elevated too often it can have detrimental effects on your health. If your body is exposed to high cortisol levels for a prolongued duration it could increase blood pressure, instigate diabetes, weaken muscle and bones. [29]

Does Stress Affect Fertility?

Since the early 1950s research showed an association between stress and fertility. A paper from 1997 surmised that a relief from psychosocial stress promotes fertility, particularly for females. [30]

However, stress and infertility is not just exclusive to females, evidence demonstrates that emotional stress in males affects the reproductive system and reduces testosterone. [31]

Eager to understand the effect on men we found a paper published by the Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal that took a group of 60 men all suffering from infertility. Each one of the subjects was found to have raised cortisol levels and suffering from psychological stress. 

After being orally administered 5000mg of MP every day for 3 months the subjects saw a reversal of their (low) sperm concentrations and sperm motility. The previously high stress scores and levels of cortisol were also reversed by a significant amount. [32]

These results demonstrate that MP is effective at reducing stress and improving fertility parameters. 


mucuna pruriens neurological effects

Neurological disorders continue to increase and affect large swathes of the globe. This can be partly attributed to the growing and ageing population. These disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death as reported by the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study. [33]

The disorders can include:

  • Alzheimer's
  • Parkinson's
  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Motor neuron diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis 

In regards to MP, it is considered that the L-DOPA content has anti-parkinsonism properties that are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Due to L-DOPA being the precursor of dopamine this can help restore neurotransmission.  

As a result, the use of MP as a theraputic treatment appears to be safe and effective. [34]


mucuna pruriens effects diabetes

Diabetes affects around 422 million people around the globe, yet almost half of them are not diagnosed. 

The World Health Organization reports that it can cause blindness, kidney failure, stoke, heart attacks and even result in the amputation of lower limbs. [35]

Diabetes is a disease whereby the body is unable to produce enough insulin to break down the glucose from the bloodstream to produce energy, or the insulin doesn't work properly. [36]

There are two types of diabetes; type 1 and type 2. 

Type 1 is due to your body not being able to produce enough insulin to break down the sugar in your blood (glucose), thus your blood sugar is too high and injections of insulin are required to control the level.

Type 2 diabetes is again an issue with insulin (which regulates blood sugar levels), however, this time the insulin doesn't work properly. As a result the pancreas which produces the insulin keeps produces excessive amounts which can place additional strain on the pancreas and wear it out preventing it from producing enough insulin in the future. 

This type of diabetes is the most common that can be caused and exacerbated by poor diet and a lack of exercise. [37]

Research by using the animal model discovered that oral administration of MP extract reduced blood glucose levels in diabetic rats and stablised body weight. [38]

Another study from the University of Brighton found that MP extract stimulated glucose uptake and superoxide scavenging activity. [39] 

L-DOPA or Mucuna Pruriens?

So, you may think, if MP contains L-DOPA (or levodopa as it is commonly known), and L-DOPA appears to be so beneficial, why not just take a L-DOPA supplement?

Observed results published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (2004) saw that for treatment of Parkinson's there were fewer adverse events using L-DOPA extracted from MP than a pharmaceutical preparation of levodopa. 

Furthermore, the extracted L-DOPA from MP also provided a quicker and longer duration of action. [40]

On a further note, MP is more cost effective than buying pharmacological levodopa therapy. [41] 

What Are The Side-Effects Of Taking Mucuna Pruriens?

Taking MP offers many benefits for exercise fans and can be an ideal way to make the most out of your workouts.

Overall, MP is deemed safe, there are very few instances of adverse effects and during a large double-blind study using substantial doses of MP saw no issues except for one patient who vomited. However, this was put down to digestibility rather than the effects of MP on the person. [42]

Yet, to note, MP, like any supplement, may have some unwanted side-effects in very rare cases. Any ingredient in Military Muscle is considered safe, natural and has scientific evidence to back up its use. We’ve done extensive studies to ensure that our products are safe for all of our users.

That said, there can be side effects to taking any supplement, even when it’s natural. Some side effects of taking Mucuna Pruriens are nausea, abdominal bloating and digestive discomfort.

A point to note, is that please do not confuse MP with levodopa when doing any of your own further research. While MP contains L-DOPA as an active ingredient, the effects of levodopa itself may be different. 

As with any natural supplement, not everyone will react the same, so be aware other possible side effects that might occur after taking MP could include:

• Vomiting
• Insomnia
• Headaches
• Mental instability and confusion
• Skin irritation and itching can occur if it is in it's original plant form and unprocessed

If one or more of these symptoms occurs after you take MP, then you should immediately stop taking the supplement. We cannot offer medical advice on the subject but we can review the evidence available.

In which case, consult your Doctor if the symptoms persist, and they can explore whether the issue was caused by the MP or if it’s safe for you to keep taking it.

Whenever you start taking a new supplement, you should always watch out for any change in your body, as this could be a sign that you are allergic to something in the treatment or that something is going wrong.

If in doubt, you should always visit a medical professional and ask them for their expert opinion. Even small changes could be an important sign, so listen to your body and react promptly if you see any problems.

All of these side effects are rare, and most individuals find that they can enjoy taking this natural supplement without any issues.

In some equally rare cases, MP can interact with other medications that you’re taking and can cause health problems.

L-DOPA, the hormone that MP produces, can interact with many prescription drugs, including those that are taken to reduce the symptoms of depression and mental anguish.

If you’re taking prescription treatments, then you should consult your physician before you add any supplement into your wellness regime, including ones that contain MP.

Your Doctor can check the ingredients of your supplements and advise you on any potential issues that you might encounter when taking them in conjunction with your prescription medicines.

The bean also contains lectins, which might irritate anyone with a food allergy or sensitivity to certain legumes or grains, so be cautious if you are allergic to some foods. Again, if in doubt, you should consult your Doctor or possibly your nutritionist.

One issue that became apparent was during a famine whereby the (unprocessed) beans were consumed in Mozambique. There were 203 reports of psychosis over a 6 week period amongst the (mainly female) population who were eating the raw, unprepred beans. [43]

Being proactive and checking that you’re safe to take MP before you start using supplements like ours or others that contain the bean will ensure that you stay safe and get the most out of all of the medicines and dietary supplements that you take.

How Long Does it take for Mucuna Pruriens to Work?

During a double-blind clincial and pharmacological study publsihed in 2004 it became apparent that MP took effect after 34.6 minutes and the period in which is was having an effect was 37 minutes. [44]

How Can You Take Mucuna Pruriens?

how to take mucuna pruriens 

Now that you know the benefits of taking MP, you need to work out how you can add it to your wellness regime.

There are many ways that you can take MP and get the benefits listed above that using this versatile bean can bring. As such, you’ll be able to find an option that suits your requirements.

While it is possible to buy the beans themselves and eat them or grind them into powder yourself, the itchiness they cause means that this might not always be the safest option. Also, cooking the beans might not give you the benefits that you desire. Grinding them yourself could take a lot of effort, skill and specialist equipment.

While homemade foods are often considered to be better than pre-made options, it isn't always the case. Therefore, you want to make sure the product has been prepared properly beforehand. Something that is best left to modern processing practices. 

An easier way to take MP and ensure your safety is to buy a supplement that contains it, as you can rest easy that all of the relevant precautions have been taken and that the bean is safe to consume.

Some companies offer the bean as a powder, which you can mix into your daily protein shake or add to your pre-workout snack. You could also take the powder directly by simply eating it from a spoon or pouring it directly into your mouth - although you're likely to sneeze or at least, have a very dry mouth!

Alternatively, the simplist way to consume it is in capsule form which can be taken orally, in the same way that you take any other pill.

Taking MP in a product alone can give you the benefits listed earlier in this article. Still, a great way to get the most out of this nutritious bean is to take it in conjunction with a selection of other minerals and vitamins.

Mucuna Pruriens and Military Muscle

That’s why Military Muscle could be the ideal solution for you. Our team of sports nutritionists have put together a selection of scientifically proven ingredients, including MP, to give you the best possible outcome from your workouts.

We’ve worked hard to create a useful supplement that’s entirely plant-based and free from any animal products, even our capsules are vegan. Transparency is a vital part of our work, which is why we use clear capsules (which prevents any risk of food coloring toxicity) and aim to offer you an alternative to traditional fitness supplements, and we do not hide our nutritional profile behind a proprietary blend.

Our product only contains ingredients that have scientific evidence to justify their use, and that will help to give you a competitive edge.

Additionally, we offer a MP extract ratio of 4:1 which means that each daily serving contains the extracts from 224mg of MP. 

With this innovative product, we aim to help you to improve your body’s natural production of testosterone and to bolster your mind and body.

All of the ingredients used in Military Muscle are natural, and the balance of ingredients is designed to optimize your weight training and improve your focus, drive, sleep, strength and sex life. 

Thanks to our hard work and commitment to excellence, Military Muscle could be the ideal supplement for athletes, bodybuilders, soldiers, and anyone else who wants to improve their muscle mass, libido, and overall lust for life.


As this article shows, taking MP can offer you a range of benefits, which is why we’ve selected it as one of the ingredients in our premium fitness supplement.

The ingredient could be ideal for anyone who wants to enrich their fitness regime or to get more motivation to exercise harder and better.

MP has been used to treat a variety of conditions and as an aphrodisiac for a very long time.  

Yet, it is still only receiving limited attention in Western society despite the recent  studies outlining its breadth of clincial benefits. 

Let's just recap on the effects that MP can have:

  1. Regulate testosterone secretion
  2. Elevate natural growth hormone
  3. Improve libido and erections
  4. Increases fertility
  5. Reduces stress
  6. Help protect against neurological dissorders 
  7. Stimulates glucose uptake 

We've also discovered that the main constituent in MP called L-DOPA is actually more beneficial in controlled cases than pharmacological levodopa itself. 

Research also proves that on the whole, MP is well tolerated by humans, unless of course the beans are eaten raw and un-processed. That said, a processed version of MP is easily accessible and cost effective. 

If you choose a complete supplement with Mucuna Pruriens in it, such as Military Muscle, then you’ll get the benefits of this natural stimulant combined with other nutrients to optimize your workouts and enrich your overall health.

Remember that taking supplements doesn’t replace a balanced diet and a robust exercise regime. It would help if you incorporated Military Muscle into your diet to enhance it and not to replace fruits, vegetables and natural grains.

Our supplement is completely vegan, so it’s great for those who follow a vegetarian or plant-based diet. However, even meat-eaters love using Military Muscle to get all the nutrients they need to achieve their fitness goals.

By creating the perfect balance with Military Muscle and a varied diet, you can make the most out of the time you spend exercising. After all, every athlete knows that you can work out as much as you want, but if you don’t fuel your body correctly, then you’ll never achieve your aims.


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