Velvet Bean (Mucuna) is renown for its practical use in Parkinson’s Disease due to its innate content of L-Dopa, which ranges from 3 – 10%. However, it’s also a highly popular supplement to help with sexual dysfunction, muscle building and mood disorders. Whether taken as capsules for convenience or drunk as a coffee substitute, Velvet Bean is seriously regarded legume with potent beneficial properties.
- For Parkinson’s, combines well with EGCG from Green Tea
- For ED, blends well with Muira Puama
cowitch, cowhage, horse-eye nut; nipay (Phillipines); ojo de venado (Mexico and Central America); pica-pica (Panama); Kapikachchha (Sanskrit); Dolichos pruriens; Stizolobium pruriens; Mucuna prurita; Setae Siliquae Hirsutae; Couhage, Kiwach; Cadjuet, Pois velus, Pois à grater, Liane à grater, Pois pouilleux, Ceil de bourrique (French); Kratzbohnen; Kuhkratze (German)
The name of the genus, Mucuna, is that of a Brazilian species mentioned by Marggraf in 1648, and pruriens refers to the itching caused on the skin by the hairs. The popular name, variously spelt, is from the Hindustani. The green pods are cooked as a vegetable; the mature seeds are considered
aphrodisiac, carried as good luck charms in Mexico and Central America, made into buttons, and ground into flour; the roots are used to treat cholera; the hairs covering the pods are used to kill intestinal worms; the seeds contain dimethyltryptamine and according to a herbal seed supplier; a dopaminergic effect might account for the reputed aphrodisiac qualities; the names pruriens and prurita refer to the itching caused by the velvety hairs on the pods
Prefers well-drained, moist, humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade, minimum 64F. Sow seed in spring 1⁄2 inch deep and keep warm and moist. Requires a long growing season to mature fruit, so it is recommended to start early in the greenhouse and transplant out after all danger of frost is passed. Space 2 feet apart and provide a trellis. Can also be propagated by layering in late summer. Remove crowded branches in winter and cut back flowered shoots to within 2-3 inches of the base. Spider mite and whitefly may attack plants under cover. Roots are lifted as required and dried for decoctions and powders. Pods are collected when ripe and scraped to remove hairs, which are powdered and mixed with honey or added to ointment. Seeds are removed from mature pods, cooked and ground to a paste.
Anti-Parkinson’s, androgenic, aphrodisiac, hypoglycemic, anabolic.
Parkinson’s disease (contains natural L-dopa), ED, Weight-loss, Muscle building, aphrodisiac.
Parkinson’s Disease; Neurological Disorders
Velvet bean is now being considered as an alternative to the pharmaceutical medication levodopa. In one case study, it was given to a Parkinson’s patient for 12 years instead of the pharmaceutical L-dopa medication. It was found to slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms (such as tremors, rigidity, slurring, drooling, and balance), and to have none of the side-effects of the current pharmaceutical L-dopa. Numerous in vivo studies also have been conducted in rats and humans.
ED; Libido; Aphrodisiac
Velvet bean has a long history of traditional use in Brazil and India as an aphrodisiac. It also has reported with anabolic and growth hormone stimulant properties. The anabolic effect of the seed is due to its ability to increase testosterone. In 2002, a U.S. patent was filed on the use of velvet bean to stimulate the release of growth hormone in humans. Research cited in the patent indicated that the high levels of L-dopa in mucuna seed were converted to dopamine which stimulated the release of growth hormone by the pituitary gland. L-dopa and dopamine are also effective inhibitors of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland; increased levels are considered to cause erection failure in males.
- In one human study, the bean powder was given to 60 patients (26 previously treated with L-dopa and 34 had never taken L-dopa). There were statistically significant reductions in Parkinson’s symptoms in all study subjects. Also, a (2002) U.S. patent was awarded on Velvet bean citing its use “for the treatment of disorders of the nervous system, including Parkinson’s disease.”
- In one study, oral intake of the seeds in 56 human males was able to improve erection, duration of coitus, and post-coital satisfaction after only four weeks of treatment. The seed also has documented fertility promoting and sperm-producing effects in human males (being able to improve sperm count and motility).
- The seeds of Mucuna pruriens in a dose of 3 g was tried in India as an anti-depressant herb in 25 cases of depressive illness. Results suggested that the herb increased the level of dopamine, serotonin and other catecholamines in the brain and body to the extent that it induced mood elevation and relieved depression. Ashwagandha powder (3 g) daily was also prescribed to add sedative, tranquilising and tonic effect to the treatment, as most of the patients were having symptoms of sleep disturbance, anxiety, and weight loss. Only the cases of endogenous and neurotic type depression were included in the study. After two months of treatment, 48% were cured, 36% improved, 8% did not show any improvement and relapse was reported in 8 %.
- In another study, 32 cases of depressive neurosis were treated with Mucuna pruriens (6 g once a day) along with Withania somnifera powder (10 g once a day). Results were quite encouraging. Significant reduction in the degree of clinical anxiety and depression was observed.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Powder: 2,000 – 6,000mg
• Ratio Extract: 750 – 1,500mg
• Decoction: 1 – 2 Cups
The seed may cause birth defects and has uterine stimulant activity. It should not be used during pregnancy.
Those with hypoglycemia or diabetes should only use Velvet bean under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Velvet bean is contraindicated in combination with M.A.O. inhibitors.
Persons with excessive androgen syndromes should avoid using Velvet bean.
Velvet bean inhibits prolactin. If you have a medical condition resulting in inadequate levels of prolactin in the body, do not use Velvet bean unless under the direction or your healthcare practitioner.
Those with Parkinson’s should only use velvet bean under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Most side effects are minor gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, which are usually resolved when the herb is taken with meals.
Interactions with other drugs
May potentiate androgenic medications.
May potentiate insulin and antidiabetic medications.
Will potentiate levodopa medications.
- Khare, C. P. (2004). Indian herbal remedies: rational Western therapy, ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, botany. Berlin; New York: Springer.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- Taylor, L. (2005). The healing power of rainforest herbs: a guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.
- Tropical Plant Database entry for Velvet bean – Mucuna pruriens. (n.d.). Retrieved 16 August 2016, from http://www.rain-tree.com/velvetbean.htm
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