Mucuna pruriens, a herb with multiple benefits
Ayurveda is without doubt the most ancient system of medicine in the world - and the only traditional medicine to be based on scientific principles. The use of the herb Mucuna pruriens in ayurvedic medicine dates back more than 4500 years. Mucuna pruriens has a fascinating biochemical profile, containing a multitude of active ingredients such as nicotine, serotonin and perhaps most significant, L-dopa (or l-dihydroxyphenylalanine) - the main precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine, isolated by Indian scientists in 1936.
When dopamine-producing neurons are affected by Parkinson's disease, it results in uncontrollable tremors, muscle stiffness, difficulties in speaking, writing and balance, and slowness of movement. Sub-clinical dopamine deficiency is often found in those suffering from depression and lack of sexual desire.
Dopamine is considered the feelgood' neurotransmitter, produced by the brain when it wants to be happy' or give the body a reward'. It is also an intermediary in the production of norepinephrine (or noradrenalin, the neurotransmitter which wakes us from sleep) and is effective at stimulating the production of growth hormone. Insufficient levels of dopamine can lead to various health difficulties including depression.
● In a comparative, animal study on Parkinson's disease, in which equal quantities of active principle were used, Mucuna pruriens extract was shown to be two to three times more effective than synthetic l-dopa. This suggests it is the biochemical profile of the herb as a whole, and not just the active principle, which is responsible for significantly increasing its effectiveness in treating symptoms of the disease. Human studies have also shown important neurological benefits for Mucuna pruriens, and - unlike synthetic l-dopa - excellent tolerance and almost no side-effects.
● Taking an extract of the herb Tribulus terrestris at the same time is likely to increase the quantity of l-dopa which reaches the brain. Tribulus contains a mild inhibitor of monoamine oxydase, a dopamine-degrading enzyme. This natural way of improving the effects of Mucuna pruriens has been recognised by Ayurvedic practitioners for over 1000 years.
● Taking Mucuna pruriens extract standardised in l-dopa stimulates the secretion of growth hormone (Hgh) by the pituitary gland. Growth hormone is undoubtedly the most powerful anti-ageing hormone: it encourages muscle mass and discourages body fat, improves stamina and energy levels, increases a sense of well-being and has a positive influence on many other aspects of health.
● Mucuna pruriens is also used in ayurvedic medicine, amongst others: to restore libido (in conjunction with Tribulus terrestris) by increasing levels of testosterone (as shown in a controlled study) and dopamine; in cases of male and female sterility (by increasing sperm count and encouraging ovulation), to improve mental alertness, motor coordination and to treat conditions of apathy.
Take 2-5 capsules with water on an empty stomach or as advised by your therapist.