Macuna Pruriens: Give Your Brain a Boost
Macuna pruriens is a beneficial plant with amazing properties to support brain health.
Species: M. pruriens
Mucuna pruriens is a tropical legume native to Africa and tropical Asia and widely naturalized and cultivated.
Its English common names include velvet bean, Bengal velvet bean, Florida velvet bean, Mauritius velvet bean, Yokohama velvet bean, cowage, cowitch, lacuna bean, and Lyon bean.
The plant is notorious for the extreme itchiness it produces on contact, particularly with the young foliage and the seed pods. It has agricultural and horticultural value and is used in herbalism.
"Mucuna pruriens is the Latin name for a creeping vine that grows all over India—particularly in the tropics—and is also found in tropical regions of Africa and the Caribbean," writes Banyan Botanicals.
"Even across different languages, many names for Mucuna pruriens refer to a velvet coating of hairs that cover its seedpods and that, if touched, can cause severe itching and irritation of the skin."
Dr. Edward Group at the Global Healing Center in Houston, Texas has written a very informative and detailed article discussing the benefits of Macuna pruriens on brain health.
He states that:
"Long before chemicals, labs, and appointed health authorities, natural plants and practical knowledge formed the foundation for medicine. Indian Ayurvedic medicine, one of the oldest holistic medical modalities, cataloged the therapeutic properties for thousands of plants."
Dr. Group goes on to say that, "ancient knowledge has made its way back into the conversation. More than ever before, research is beginning to focus on ancient plants, herbs, flowers, and roots."
And that's a very good thing. Slowly, people are losing faith in synthetic chemicals created in labs (after all, Frankenstein's Monster was created in a lab, right?) and turning to plant based remedies.
"Ayurvedic herbal medicine has relied on Mucuna pruriens since 1500 BC to support ailments such as snakebite, intestinal disorders, sexual response, and melancholy," said Dr. Group.
What are the Active Compounds in Mucuna pruriens?
"The magic of every therapeutic plant resides in its beneficial, active compounds. The interaction between these compounds is typically responsible for the plant’s favorable effects."
In Mucuna pruriens, levodopa, or L-dopa, is one of these compounds.
This bioactive chemical is a precursor to several neurotransmitters, including adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine.
Mucuna pruriens has significant antioxidant action that works in tandem with L-dopa to promote brain health. When L-dopa crosses the blood-brain barrier, it helps to increase brain levels of dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter associated with regulating mood and cognition.
Research also suggests that antioxidants are helpful for defending against oxidative damage by free radicals.
How Mucuna pruriens Affects the Brain
Research suggests Mucuna pruriens protects the brain by keeping cognitive and neural functions in check, even encouraging neural activity.
Studies on animals have echoed this, placing the focus on its antioxidant action. The mechanism behind this is simple — all free radicals have an unpaired electron that makes them unstable in the body.
Antioxidants donate an electron to the free radical to neutralize its effects, particularly on the brain. Mucuna pruriens has an added benefit in that it fights systemic redness in the brain, which is often a factor in brain degradation.
Macuna pruriens benefits
Supports a healthy central & peripheral nervous system*
Supports the body’s ability to handle stress*
Is a natural source of levodopa (L-dopa)*
Supports physical balance & posture*
Promotes healthy motor skills & coordination*
Improves energy & endurance*
Supports the intellect*
Revitalizes both the male & female reproductive systems*