Known as the “magic velvet bean”, mucuna pruriens is the Latin name for a legume that’s rich in the amino acid L-DOPA.
Mucuna pruriens, or — as they’re more frequently known, velvet beans — are infamous for being very difficult to touch in the wild. The plants are covered in hairs containing serotonin, meaning a small amount of contact with the plant in its natural state can induce severe itching.
When processed into a powder, however, mucuna pruriens are a rich source of nutrients and an important supplement that’s linked to improvements in recovery after drug use, reduction in the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and mild antidepressant effects.
The nutrients in mucuna pruriens are also a superfood, with links to increases in muscle mass, strength and physical performance.
What is is that makes mucuna pruriens such a nutrient-dense, important supplement? Let’s take a look at its nutritional value, beginning with the plant’s history as a medicinal ingredient over the centuries.
What Are Mucuna Pruriens?
The seeds of the mucuna pruriens plant — which are covered in a furry, itch-inducing coat — are an important part of traditional medicine in countries such as Indonesia.
Tribal communities have used the seeds of the mucuna pruriens plant as a treatment for some snakebites. The ground seeds have also been used in Indian medicine as a way to potentially improve cognitive performance and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Today, mucuna pruriens is most commonly consumed as a health supplement, typically in the form of mucuna pruriens powder. Many people take mucuna pruriens along with other healthy superfoods and dietary supplements.
Mucuna Pruriens Health Benefits
There are numerous health benefits to mucuna pruriens, particularly when consumed as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
One of these potential benefits is a reduction in the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Mucuna pruriens powder is a rich source of L-dopa — an important amino acid that acts as a precursor to dopamine.
Because Parkinson’s disease reduces levels of dopamine in the brain, the L-dopa that’s present in mucuna pruriens can form an important part of a Parkinson’s disease symptom management protocol.
Mucuna pruriens powder is also linked to an improvement in androgen levels in men, promoting a greater level of fertility and libido. Scientific studies have shown that mucuna pruriens results in higher levels of testosterone and other important sex hormones in males.
This, in turn, can promote an increase in lean muscle mass and a noticeable improvement in body composition for men and women.
Finally, mucuna pruriens powder can act as a mild antidepressant. This is because it increases dopamine levels in the brain, potentially reducing the stress, anxiety and frustration that often occurs as a result of depleted dopamine.
For example, one scientific study shows that mucuna pruriens extract has a noticeable positive effect on the performance of mice in tests used to track antidepressive action.
All in all, mucuna pruriens powder is a worthwhile, scientifically proven health supplement that can improve everything from body composition and physical performance to mood, sex drive and fertility. As such, it’s worth considering as part of your wellness supplement protocol.