In this article we discuss the anti-anxiety and dopamine regulating properties of a bean called Mucuna Pruriens or Mucuna (or sometimes Macuna).
Because of its abilitiy to effectively regulate dopamine levels, it has been used in addictive-behavior programs (in a controlled environment). Let’s take a look at its other powerful abilities and discuss what you need to be aware of before taking it.
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
Herbal Name and Characteristics:
- Name: Mucuna or Velvet Bean
- Pin Yin: Ci mao li dou,
- Latin: Mucuna pruriens
- Taste: Bitter and slightly sweet and hot (chocolate-like)
- Color: white or black (depends on the seed)
- Constitution: N/A
About this Herb
I heard about Mucuna Pruriens from coach Mike Mahler since it is an active ingredient in one of his famous supplements and he speaks highly of it.
I did some research on it and was very intrigued with the studies and findings so I thought it was time for me to try it out.
I was a bit hesitant to try it in powder form so I tinctured it instead and started off with a low dose, which I increased over the duration of 1 week.
The first thing you feel is a rush down under. Yes I am talking about erections. Also, a sense of well-being and calmness washed over me and which led me to a deep and calm sleep.
Waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep has always transferred into my morning workouts. I did lean out a bit while I was on it without any change in my diet. I felt more aggressive but in a calm way so there was a rise in overall testosterone as well.
Below you will find more details about this herb, its benefits, side effects and precautions you need to take before using it.
What is Mucuna
Mucuna Pruriens is an herb (actually a legume) found in Asia and Africa and used in Ayurvedic Medicine. What is very interesting about this herb is its content in L-Dopa. L-Dopa is the precursor to the neurotransmitter Dopamine and also serotonin (5-HT) and 5 HTP.
The hairs on the seeds can cause itchiness due to their serotonin content and are actually used in those itching powders we used when we were kids. Note that water does not help with the itching as it dilutes the ingredients and so smoke is used in India to relieve the itching.
The leaves are sometimes dried and smoked for their hallucinogenic effects.
The seed part is what is used to make the powder for various uses such as anti venom, antioxidant, sleep/relaxation aid and to raise libido.
Benefits and properties of Mucuna Pruriens
Summarizing the many benefits of Mucuna:
- It can increase dopamine levels and as a result of that, help with fertility in healthy males.
- Dopamine is also known for suppressing prolactin levels which means it can possibly help with gyno in men.
- It can increase testosterone levels (by increasing Luteinizing hormone levels), sperm quality, fertility and libido in infertile men. However, it is unknown what happens to already fertile men.
- It can help with controlling blood sugar levels in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients.
- It can also help with balancing hormonal profiles and by interacting with other neurotransmitters such as GABA and
- It can increase focus and assist with memory and cognitive processes.
- It can help protect the nervous system as shown in one study.
- It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine as anti-venom for specific snake species since the glycoprotein in Mucuna can degrade the toxins in the poison.
- It has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties and can act as a diuretic.
- Can help with addictive behaviors due to the dopamine content. (cessation of smoking, drugs etc.)
- Can aid in pituitary gland health and increase Growth Hormone levels naturally.
When and how to take it
While taking Mucuna can have many health benefits, the wrong dose (higher than the one you need) can do more harm than good as it can mess with the balance of your neurotransmitters and hormones. One way to know if you take too much is to look for anxiety symptoms. If you have these, you might have to lower the dose.
Alcohol based Tincture: Using it in this way, you can extract many of the nutrients found in Mucuna. This is also a great way to control your dose. Hold the dose in your mouth (under the tongue) for 1 to 3 minutes until it gets absorbed. Then you can swallow it.
The tincture can also be taken in a glass of water. Wait a couple of minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then drink the tincture.
The tincture is usually black and like a thick syrup with a very strong, nutty taste.
Capsules or Tablets: Mucuna can also be taken in tablets or capsules but make sure you buy from a reputable seller as the tablet may contain fillers and the actual herb may not be fresh or potent.
Powder: This is a versatile alternative as you can control your dose much better. You can also make the powder into a tincture or tablets. To take, just put the powder in your mouth and hold it for up to 5 minutes. Then you can swallow it.
The best times to take it would be:
- First thing in the morning on an empty stomach,
- Before working out.
Safety and side effects
Mucuna is deemed as safe when used short term (under 20 weeks) and in low doses. The only reported side effect was vomiting, nausea and when the dose is slightly exceeded – anxiety.
Its safety however has not been determined for long term usage (more than 3 months) and high doses.
Reported side effects of using large doses include:
- Spontaneous erections,
- Decreased motor skills.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
You should not take Mucuna if you:
- Are taking antidepressants or other types of medication including but not limited to antihypertensive drugs, immunosuppressive drugs or anticoagulant medication.
- Are under the age of 30 as your hormones are still increasing and you will end up messing up your hormonal profile.
- Have any psychological or mental conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and other without consulting your therapist and doctor.
- Have any hormonal problems or medical conditions including but not limited to cancer, diabetes or undergoing chemo treatment: Check with your doctor before using Mucuna if you have any of the above conditions as he is the only person who can determine if using it is a good idea or not.
- Have any cardiovascular condition as the L-Dopa can interfere with heartbeat and cause irregular pounding.
- Are taking blood pressure medication as it can interfere with the dosage.
- Have low blood pressure as there is a high risk of hypoglycemia from using Mucuna.
- Are scheduled for an operation, organ transplant or you just underwent one. Certain ingredients may interfere with the sedation used during surgery, rejection of the organ, interfere with healing and/or cause internal bleeding.
- Have allergies to this specific herb or any of its ingredients.
The best thing you can do before taking any herb supplement is to test it. If you want to be safe while using herbs I strongly urge you to read my other article on how to test an herb for allergies and intolerances.
Use for up to 4 weeks and then take 4 weeks off. Repeat cycle after that.
Do not use for long periods of time without a break in order to keep the herb effective and protect the body from accumulation of other toxins unrelated to the herb itself.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
Mucuna is an amazing bean with powerful adaptogenic, androgenic and anti-anxiety properties that will literally transform your life by protecting you from stress and anxiety. In the long run it can potentially increase dopamine and remove addiction! I always include as part of any of my testosterone boosting protocols and I highly recommend it for better mental and physical health.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
Studies mentioned in this article:
- Shukla KK, et al. Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Fertil Steril. (2009).
- In vitro studies on the regulation of prolactin secretion in the bullfrog pituitary gland.
- Suresh S, Prakash S. Effect of Mucuna pruriens (Linn.) on Sexual Behavior and Sperm Parameters in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Male Rat. J Sex Med. (2010).
- Mahajan GK, Mahajan AY, Mahajan RT. Efficacy of Aphrodisiac Plants towards Improvement in Semen Quality and Motility in Infertile Males. J Complement Integr Med. (2012).
- Majekodunmi SO, et al. Evaluation of the anti-diabetic properties of Mucuna pruriens seed extract. Asian Pac J Trop Med. (2011).
- Rathi SS, Grover JK, Vats V. The effect of Momordica charantia and Mucuna pruriens in experimental diabetes and their effect on key metabolic enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Phytother Res. (2002).
- Rathi SS, et al. Prevention of experimental diabetic cataract by Indian Ayurvedic plant extracts. Phytother Res. (2002).
- Shah J, Goyal R. Investigation of neuropsychopharmacological effects of a polyherbal formulation on the learning and memory process in rats. J Young Pharm. (2011).
- Manyam BV, Dhanasekaran M, Hare TA. Neuroprotective effects of the antiparkinson drug Mucuna pruriens. Phytother Res. (2004).
- Houghton PJ, Osibogun IM. Flowering plants used against snakebite. J Ethnopharmacol. (1993).
- Soares AM, et al. Medicinal plants with inhibitory properties against snake venoms. Curr Med Chem. (2005).
- Guerranti R, et al. Protection of Mucuna pruriens seeds against Echis carinatus venom is exerted through a multiform glycoprotein whose oligosaccharide chains are functional in this role.Biochem Biophys Res Commun. (2004).
- Guerranti R, et al. Effects of Mucuna pruriens extract on activation of prothrombin by Echis carinatus venom. J Ethnopharmacol. (2001).
- Guerranti R, et al. Proteomic analysis of the pathophysiological process involved in the antisnake venom effect of Mucuna pruriens extract. Proteomics. (2008).
- http://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ijp.2011.498.503 – Anti-Inflammatory, Diuretic and Antibacterial Activities of Aerial Parts of Mucuna pruriens Linn.