Nutritive and Medicinal Properties of Mucuna Pruriens

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


There are many ways to assess the nutritive and medicinal properties of plants. The first step is to understand how plants work.

This includes knowing what nutritive factors are, which physicochemical compounds are present, and how the protein quality of the plant is evaluated.

Mucuna Pruriens

The seeds of Mucuna pruriens (MO) have been shown to have numerous beneficial properties. These include anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-microbial activities.

The seeds are also high in phenolic compounds. These phenolic compounds have been found to inhibit digestive enzymes and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity.

Various researchers are studying the nutritive and medicinal properties of Mucuna pruriens.

The studies reveal that the plant is a good source of protein. Moreover, the plant contains vital macromolecules, such as amino acids, reducing sugars, and essential fatty acids.

The legume has a long history of usage. It has been grown as a minor food crop in several parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, and Central America.

During the 1800s, it was cultivated in Ghana and Mozambique. Its ability to thrive in low-fertility soils has made it suitable for use in intercropping systems.

Mucuna pruriens seeds have a variety of phytochemical constituents, including alkaloids, saponins, and tannins.

These components have been shown to inhibit the activities of venom-producing bacteria and snakes. In addition, Mucuna pruriens has anti-microbial and anti-nutritional properties.

Mucuna pruriens has been used to produce l-Dopa, a naturally occurring molecule, which has been widely used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Similarly, the bean has been used to treat parasites.

Mucuna pruriens is an important component of the African and Central American diets.

The plant's active ingredients, which include tannins, may inhibit the life cycles of pathogens. Additionally, mucuna pruriens has been shown to be an effective natural anthelmintic.

Mucuna pruriens can be used as a cover crop to protect soil structure. This could increase agricultural productivity, help improve livelihoods, and help address food insecurity in households.

Anti-nutritional compounds

Mucuna pruriens is a legume that contains essential fatty acids, starch, carbohydrates, and minerals. It has been used as a green manure crop in many parts of the world. It is also cultivated as a food crop.

It is an important source of dopamine, an amino acid. It is also an established herbal medicine. As previously mentioned it is considered to have anti-Parkinson's and anti-inflammatory properties.

Mucuna pruriens seeds are rich in crude protein, carbohydrate, and fiber. They also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are rich in L-dopa, a precursor of dopamine. 

The protein content of the processed mucuna pruriens seed is similar to that of soybean seeds. However, there is a marked difference in the anti-nutritional activity of the seed.

A methanol extract of the mucuna pruriens seeds has demonstrated significant anti-oxidant activity. These phenolic compounds are also believed to have anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.

The seeds also contain saponins, reducing sugar, alkaloids, and terpenoids. The presence of these components may explain the anti-microbial and antioxidant activities of the plant.

Mucuna pruriens leaves are a source of a number of phytochemicals, including rutaecarpine, a bioactive alkaloid.

These active components inhibit the life cycles of pathogens. In addition, the leaves are said to have medicinal value.

In recent years, research on natural bioactive compounds has gained a lot of attention from the scientific community. This is due to the fact that more and more consumers are looking for food products that have healthy properties.

Physicochemical properties

Knowing the physicochemical properties of mucuna pruriens is important for food processing.

These include: sphericity, volume, density, length, thickness and geometric mean diameter. It is also useful in designing equipment for handling and cleaning. Moreover, knowledge of Mucuna's physical properties is helpful in harvesting and drying.

Mucuna pruriens is one of the underexploited legumes in tropical Mexico. Its native starch is high in fat and fibre, containing 2 g kg-1 and 19 g kg-1 protein, respectively.

Despite its high nutritional content, Mucuna pruriens has significant anti-nutritional factors. These include saponins, alkaloids, minor terpenoids and hemaggutinins.

The physicochemical properties of Mucuna seeds are also influenced by various processes used in their processing.

For example, increasing the moisture conditioning of the seed reduces its swelling capacity. Similarly, increased pH increases its solubility. In fact, its maximal solubility was observed at pH 12.

The rate of water absorption is dependent on its moisture content at saturation. In general, the higher the soaking temperature, the faster the equilibrium moisture content.

It was found that Peleg's equation fitted the hydration kinetics of Mucuna beans at 30 degC. However, k2 and k1 values were lower at this temperature. This may be due to the hardness of the seed coat.

A simple chemical test was used to detect secondary metabolites. Most toxicant phytochemicals were absent from all samples. The presence of alkaloids was noted in the untreated sample, which also contains hemaggutinins.

Unlike most legumes, Mucuna pruriens has very high protein digestibility. In fact, the crude protein content of Mucuna pruriens seeds is equivalent to that of soybean seeds.

The protein isolate is a good source of sulphur amino acids and has adequate levels of lysine.

military muscle testosterone booster banner

Protein quality evaluation

One of the most important factors to consider in evaluating protein quality is the degree to which the protein is utilizable.

In a study, the level of utilisation of protein in the seeds of Velvet bean was assessed. The effect of heat treatment on its quality was also examined.

The results showed that heat-treated seeds had higher protein digestibility, true digestibility and protein efficiency ratio (PER) than raw seeds.

The highest levels of utilizable protein were observed in the seeds that were treated with heat for at least 3 hours.

The seeds of Mucuna pruriens DC var. deeringiana contained a good range of amino acids, particularly globulins, which are storage proteins. They were low in cystine and methionine.

The velvet bean seeds are rich in protein, fiber, carbohydrates and lipids. However, the seeds are deficient in hemagglutinating activity. The presence of these compounds may account for their effectiveness in improving sperm concentration.

It is also a well-known fact that the Velvet bean has a small seed size and a large seed yield. As a result, the seeds have a high potential for boosting the protein content of some food formulations.

Hence, a recent research trend has focused on evaluating underutilized legumes, like the Velvet bean.

The velvet bean's protein quality has been improved in a number of ways. The seeds are also high in antioxidants.

Moreover, the use of autoclaving to preserve the nutritive value of the Velvet bean seeds reduces antinutritional substances and increases the effectiveness of the emulsion process.

Nevertheless, despite this impressive result, more studies are needed before we can make a definitive statement about Mucuna pruriens as a viable dietary supplement.

The side effects associated with this supplement, including gastrointestinal symptoms and increased nausea, may be a major concern.


The phenolics of Mucuna pruriens have been shown to exhibit antioxidant activity and hepatoprotective properties.

They have a potential to be used as a viable alternative to conventional drugs for the treatment of a variety of liver disorders.

In a recent study, Mucuna pruriens leaf extract was found to reverse the deranged histopathological and biochemical parameters of the liver in rats.

Moreover, MPE significantly improved the lipid profile and increased the activities of the antioxidant enzymes in the kidney.

In addition, Mucuna pruriens leaf ethanolic extract was also evaluated in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. The extract showed antioxidant activity and DPPH assay results were favourable.

Similarly, a methanol extract of MP seeds was found to possess antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties. These findings suggest that the methanol extract may serve as a possible source of natural anti-microbial agents.

The extract was tested on a Wistar adult male rat model. One group of rats were given a control chow diet while the other group was fed with a cafeteria diet for eight weeks.

The serum bilirubin concentration was measured. The uric acid levels were also measured. The concentrations were elevated in the CCl4 and rifampicin-exposed groups.

The hepatoprotective effect of Mucuna pruriens leaves is likely to be due to the presence of polyphenolic components, which inhibit hepatotoxic metabolites from binding to liver cells. They also have anti-microbial properties, and inhibit the life cycles of pathogens.

Further studies should identify the mechanism by which Mucuna pruriens leaves exert their hepatoprotective effects. It is important to find an effective treatment for hepatotoxicity.

The phenolic compounds present in Mucuna pruriens leaves are believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties. They can also act as inhibitors of digestive enzymes and hydrolytic enzymes.


The wild legume Mucuna pruriens is a plant with many pharmacological and nutritional benefits. It has traditionally been used as food in several countries. However, it is also in great demand as a pharmaceutical product.

The seeds and leaves of the Mucuna pruriens are a rich source of phenolic compounds. These are believed to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity. They may also have anti-viral properties.

Mucuna seeds contain a number of amino acids. They have the potential to aid in smooth muscle contractions. They are also rich in d-chiro-inositol, a compound that mimics insulin.

This is important because it can stimulate the production of growth hormone. It also contains L-dopa, an important precursor to dopamine. L-dopa is used as a first-line treatment for Parkinson's disease.

The seed is also a good source of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. They are rich in fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients.

Its extract was found to be two to three times more effective than synthetic L-dopa.

The leaves are high in potentially antibacterial compounds. They have been shown to inhibit the life cycles of pathogens. They are also believed to have antioxidant effects.

The methanol extract of the MP seeds was found to have significant anti-oxidant activity. These properties may contribute to their therapeutic value. In addition, the methanol extract may be a natural source of anti-microbial agents.

The wild legume Mucuna pruriens has been widely used in the soil for its ability to soften and retain moisture. It is also used in various applications as a cover crop and as a weed suppressant.

Show All

Blog posts

Show All