Botanically, Mucuna Pruriens is also called Velvet Bean, Cowitch and Cowage in English and KAUNCH BEEJ in Hindi. Its seeds are commonly used to manage Parkinson’s disease and treat erectile dysfunction, oligospermia, and impotence in men. It contains levodopa that increases circulating dopamine levels, which makes it an effective alternative or natural medicine for Parkinson’s disease. It is also known for its effects on hormones. It decreases prolactin level and increases testosterone level in men. Therefore, it is used to treat hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin level) and low testosterone level.
The other parts of the Mucuna Pruriens plant are also used in ayurvedic medicines. The powder prepared from the outer hair that covers the seed pods is used as helminthic to kill the roundworm. The roots of the velvet bean plant are used to treat dysmenorrhea, dysuria and kidney diseases. The leaves of the plant are used for the management of arthritis, dysentery, heart diseases and diabetes.
- Outer hairs of the seed pods
The seeds are most commonly used medicinal part of the Mucuna Pruriens.
Phytochemistry (Chemical Composition)
Mucuna Pruriens seeds contain proteins like other legumes. The active constituent in the seeds is levodopa (L-dopa). L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine. (1)
It contains several active constituents in addition to L-dopa, which might also be responsible for its neuroprotective effect and makes it helpful in case of Parkinson’s disease. In addition to L-dopa, it also contains isoquinoline alkaloids – tetrahydro-isoquinolines. (2, 3)
The cotyledon powder of Mucuna Pruriens contains coenzyme Q-10 and NADH (Nicotine adenine dinucleotide). (4)
It also contains anthraquinones, terpenoids, saponins, tannins, glycosides and flavonoids. (5)
It contains gpMuc, a glycoprotein that inhibits trypsin and chymotrypsin. (6)
Behenic acid, a type of fatty acid, is also present in the seeds. (7)
The leaves of the plant contain a hallucinogenic substance named Tryptamine alkaloid. However, it is present in low amount.
The roots of mucuna contain 5-MeO-Dimethyltryptamine, a psychedelic compound of the tryptamine class.
In addition to these, Mucuna also contains a few minerals including iron, selenium, and magnesium.
Mucunain content in the outer hairs of the Mucuna plant causes intense itching. Serotonin content causes pain, but it does not cause itching.
L-dopa present in Mucuna pruriens seeds (velvet beans) increases the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. It also boosts the norepinephrine level in the brain. Thus, it boosts mood and reduces stress. Through this action, it is also likely to boost libido. In ayurveda, it is known for its aphrodisiac, androgenic, spermatogenic and strengthening actions. Through all these properties, it helps to treat the problems in men.
Mucuna pruriens has following healing properties.
- Anti-Parkinson’s disease
- Nervine Tonic
- Strengthening action, as per ayurveda
- Androgenic – increase testosterone level in men
- Erectogenic – improve erection
- Spermatogenic – treat oligospermia (low count)
- Nervine Tonic
- Uterine contraction inducer
- Anti-hyperglycemia and anti-diabetic
Outer hairs of Seed pods
Ayurvedic Properties of Velvet Bean
|RASA (Taste)||MADHURA (Sweet), TIKTA (Bitter)|
|GUNA (Main Quality)||GURU (Heavy), SNIGADH or SNEHA (Unctuous or Oily)|
|VIRYA (Potency)||USHNA (Hot)|
|VIPAKA (Resultant)||MADHURA (Sweet)|
|Main Action||Spermatogenic – induces spermatogenesis|
|DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)||Pacifies VATA DOSHA and increases PITTA DOSHA and KAPHA DOSHA|
|Organs Effect||Brain, Joints, Bones, Testes|
Ayurvedic properties given above apply to Mucuna seeds. According to ayurveda, seeds are heavy to digest and increases heat in the body. So, mucuna seeds might not be suitable if you have any symptoms of increased or aggravated Pitta.
Mucuna Pruriens Indications
Mucuna pruriens is helpful in following health conditions.
- Parkinson’s disease
- Mood disorders
- Facial paralysis
- Low testosterone in men
- Hyperprolactinemia – High prolactin in men
- Erectile dysfunction
- Physical weakness
- Muscle pain
- Infantile seizures (used in combination of Anacyclus Pyrethrum)
- Female infertility
- Kidney diseases
- Delirium in high grade fever
- Renal colic
- Heart diseases
Mucuna Seed pods
- Arsenic poisoning
Outer hairs of Seed pods
- Intestinal worms or parasite infestation (mainly used for killing roundworm)
Mucuna Pruriens Benefits & Uses
The seeds of Mucuna Pruriens have effects on the mind and brain. In addition, they provide strengthen to the body and improves blood circulation. So, seeds are beneficial for psychological, neurological, musculoskeletal conditions. Mucuna Roots also act as a nervine tonic, but its effects are lesser compared to its seeds. However, the roots are diuretic, anti-dysentery, anti-diarrheal, and anti-seizure effects. Seed pods and outer hairs of seed pods are rarely used, but beneficial in arsenic poisoning. Outer hairs of seed pods are also beneficial in worm infestation.
Mucuna Pruriens seed powder, seed extract, and root decoction are used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The seeds contain L-dopa, which is a precursor of dopamine and increases the level of dopamine in the brain. However, L-dopa is not only responsible for its beneficial action in Parkinson’s disease, there are also other constituents present in the seeds, which acts as neuroprotective and reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Its seeds have higher beneficial effects in Parkinson’s disease when compared to synthetic levodopa. Cotyledon powder has a neuroprotective action. It restores the natural level of endogenous levodopa and dopamine in the substantia nigra. It also improves the level of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. CoQ-10 and Nicotine adenine dinucleotide present in Mucuna Cotyledon increases mitochondrial complex-I activity in the brain, which might also be responsible for its beneficial effects in Parkinson’s disease. (8)