Mucuna Pruriens is a bean-like plant with powerful nootropic effects.
The psychoactives within the plant have various neurological effects but can also affect fertility and certain hormone levels.
It is most commonly used in traditional medicine to combat Parkinson’s and snakebites, though, recent research into the plant and its compounds suggest it may have additional benefits.
What is Mucuna Pruriens
Mucuna Pruriens is a well-known herbal drug that has been enjoying renewed levels of attention.
In addition to being a rich source of protein (and hence an excellent food source), the makeup of this plant has numerous medicinal properties that have long been a part of traditional systems.
In Ayurveda, its seeds and extracts are used to treat snake bites due to the antivenom properties of the compounds. The plant is also a treatment against Parkinson’s and similar neurological disease thanks to the neuroprotective effects the plant confers.
Some studies suggest the effects of Mucuna go beyond this, and might even be useful for alleviating muscle pain, bone and joint conditions, diabetes, infertility, and lowered hormone levels, in addition to improving one’s mood and providing a source of anti-oxidants.
Further studies into the various compounds within the Mucuna could very well be shown to have antimicrobial properties as well, as researchers believe the tannins and phenols within the plant are what allow it to stay stored away without fear of spoiling due to microorganisms.
Mucuna Pruriens is a legal plant. It can be purchased as seeds, extracts, powder, pills, and capsules. It is most widely available online, with a whole host of internet retailers.
There is a wide swath of different brands, so finding a method of taking the supplement that best suits you likely won’t be difficult.
Mucuna clearly has potent medicinal properties. However, it’s possible that healthy nootropic users could also benefit from its effects on the body.
Other Names for Mucuna Pruriens
Mucuna is also known as Atmagupta, Cowage, Cow-Itch, The Velvet Bean, Kevanch, and Kapi Kacchu, among other common names.
There were so many choices of Mucuna that I had to narrow things down first. After reading up on what worked for others, I decided to try ingesting the capsules and then compare that experience to drinking a tea laced with the Mucuna powder.
I tried the capsules with food and noted a slight improvement in my sense of “well-being” within an hour of ingestion. It’s a subjective factor but marked enough that I believe it worked.
Whether the capsules boosted my libido or testosterone levels, though, I’m not so certain. I would have to get some blood tests done to confirm if it worked for me.
Some sources suggest that it may only help those with testosterone deficiencies come back to baseline, so I’m not holding my breath here.
Trying the tea, I noticed similar effects, but also got an energy boost similar to what you would experience with a strong cup of coffee (probably why Mucuna is commonly used as a coffee substitute) but without the overwhelming urge to void my bowels. I could feel my nerves balancing out, and felt like I was in a good mood for the duration of the experience.
I’d like to know for certain to what degree it was affecting my L-DOPA levels, and if this was the direct cause of the mood enhancement.
I had read some reports of Mucuna causing restlessness or disrupting sleep, but did not have either issue. I did experience a brief headache, but that quickly subsided and I was free to feel the benefits uninterrupted.
Mucuna Pruriens Reviews
The online buzz about Mucuna is positive. In addition to the efficiency the plant shows in counteracting Parkinson’s, people include it into their nootropic routine with outstanding results.
This article from the Atlantic details one hunter’s experience with several nootropics and a conversation he had with Onnit Labs founder Aubrey Marcus about the value of different substances.
When posed the question, “which nootropic he would want if he were stranded on a desert island?” the response was “If I needed to stay motivated to rebuild the village, I would choose Mucuna [pruriens].” A definite testament to the mood-enhancing power of the plant.
There are also reports from those who have claimed to use Mucuna and similar compounds to boost their dopamine supply and negate the effects of MDMA hangovers.
The feeling after taking “Molly” is considerably unpleasant for most, so if Mucuna can help to balance that out, it’s certainly worth taking a look.
Benefits and effects
Mucuna has several medicinal benefits, along with some side benefits that will be of interest to nootropic enthusiasts.
Mucuna contains high concentrations of L-DOPA, a known frontline defense against symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
At least one study showed that Mucuna worked just as well as Levodopa at combating symptoms, but with a faster absorption rate and greater peak levels, making it a potentially more attractive option.
The L-DOPA boost, combined with a reduction in cortisol also suggests that Mucuna could have an anti-stress effect. This would explain the reports of well-being that come from those using Mucuna as a daily supplement.
In those experiencing infertility, at least, Mucuna can lead to an increased levels of testosterone (3.89 to 5.40ng/mL, 2.65 to 3.66ng/mL for the two experimental groups referenced in the study).
Lowered testosterone levels are associated with a degradation in overall mood, and a boost in testosterone helps to even that out.
Experimental data does not yet indicate whether the testosterone boost is as powerful on otherwise healthy men looking to gain an extra edge, but if it turns out to be so, then claims of enhanced libido and increased vigor would be well-founded.
Researchers have shown that ingestion of Mucuna directly enhances male fertility. Men who took regular 5g doses of Mucuna for three months saw boosts in sperm count, seminal volume, and sperm motility, leading to a correction of problems experienced by infertile men.
High levels of prolactin cause a condition known as hyperprolactinemia. In women, this leads to infertility. In men, it can decrease libido, cause erectile dysfunction, and lead to infertility.
Regular doses of Mucuna have been shown to correct prolactin levels and restore sexual function in men.
There are other benefits associated with Mucuna that are not substantiated by thorough research but have been noted through observation and anecdotes.
These include being able to correct bone, joint, and muscle pain, providing antioxidant activity within the body, and inducing an anti-diabetic effect.
How It Works
The most notable effects of Mucuna come from its ability to supply the body with L-DOPA, a precursor to dopamine that can help enhance dopamine levels in the blood.
According to researchers, the natural L-DOPA contained within the Mucuna can cross the blood-brain barrier, undergo conversion to dopamine, and restore normal neurotransmission.
This is what allows it to curb negative symptoms related to Parkinson’s. It also doesn’t have the downsides associated with synthetic L-DOPA.
The other compounds in Mucuna are what give it energy-boosting properties. Much like caffeine, they stimulate the nervous system, causing you to feel more awake and prepared to act.
These effects usually take hold inside of an hour and can last for several after that.
Benefits born of the polyphenols, alkaloids, antioxidants, and other ingredients in Mucuna take longer to work. They likely require continued supplementation, but confer more of a long-term benefit.
They could potentially protect from cancers, microbes, and chronic inflammation associated with old age or injury.
Ingesting the seeds of the Mucuna also grants a protective effect against some snake toxins. The anti-poison properties manifest in about 24 hours and can last for some time thereafter with repeated use.
Scientific research on Mucuna is still new. Therefore, the complete dosing range for the plant is still unknown.
However, based on studies that have been performed, a dosage of 5g is suitable for gaining the positive neuroprotective effects from the plant.
As a mood enhancing supplement, it might be possible, and even advisable, to take reduced dosages and receive more subtle effects. Start with 100mg to see how it affects you, and adjust from there.
Mucuna can be ingested in plant or seed form but is more commonly taken as a supplement in powder or capsule form.
Capsules are often packaged in 150mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties. You can take these with or without food, though they are commonly mixed with smoothies or tea and enjoyed as a health drink.
Currently, there are no changes in dosage necessary based on age, sex, or gender, though most studies have tested the effects of the drug on male biology.
The most commonly reported side effects with Mucuna are headaches, insomnia, and gastrointestinal distress. In addition to these potential problems, there are several groups that should avoid taking Mucuna without supervision.
As there is limited knowledge of how the plant affects pregnant women, the should steer clear of this supplement. Those with cardiovascular disease should exercise caution, as L-DOPA can cause low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
Mucuna might also lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, those with diabetes or hypoglycemia should avoid it, or at least be aware of their levels while taking Mucuna. L-DOPA can also exacerbate liver disease and GI ulcers, so those with either are advised to leave Mucuna alone.
Finally, L-DOPA could make mental illnesses worse, so taking Mucuna while suffering from any such mental ailment might not be the best course of action.
The most common stacks with Mucuna Pruriens involve other mood and energy enhancers: attempts to bolster the euphoric effects.
1. Coffee Or Tea
There are a few ways to go about mixing Mucuna with coffee or tea. In my case, I went with a dose of powder combined with a cup of green tea.
You could do the same with coffee and a dose suitable for you to gain an extra energy boost when taking Mucuna. Alternatively, you can try one of the mg capsules taken before, after, or with your drink to experience similar effects.
If you want the benefits of Mucuna and green tea without the green tea, a green tea extract with EGCg will provide the desired effect. A 500mg dose of Mucuna in pill form, along with a 400mg dose of EGCg should do the trick.
For increased motivation and clarity, a stack containing 250-500mg Mucuna and 10-40mg Noopept is suitable. Noopept increased focus and mood, along with improving cognitive function.
When combined with Mucuna, it can elevate your state of well-being even further, while providing the mental acuity to accomplish serious tasks.
There are several similar compounds that could provide comparable benefits to Mucuna. Make sure you check out these other options:
1. Synthetic L-DOPA
The most widely recognized active ingredient in Mucuna is L-DOPA, which is also available as a synthetic in capsule form.
It has similar effects to Mucuna, but a greater number of side effects. It also takes larger concentrations of synthetic L-DOPA to receive the same results as Mucuna’s natural L-DOPA.
In addition, synthetic forms of L-DOPA are also more expensive that Mucuna, making them a less cost-effective option. You can check out a variety of synthetic L-DOPA here.
- Similar to Mucuna
- Less potent
- More expensive
2. Cat’s Claw
The Cat’s Claw is a plant that contains AC-11. Evidence suggests that this could reduce inflammation, similar to Mucuna.
In addition, the Cat’s Claw may also have anti-oxidant benefits, immune system benefits, and the ability to ease some cellular damage. This might be a good Mucuna Puriens alternative for those with chronic conditions.
3. Huperzia Serrata
Also known as clubmoss, this plant contains compounds with clear neurological effects. Most notably, it can help combat cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s (similar to the way that Mucuna defends against Parkinson’s).
There is evidence to suggest it could show promise for helping with other cognitive disorders and as a memory supplement.
There is genuine cause for optimism if you’re exploring Mucuna as an alternative to synthetic L-DOPA to fight Parkinson’s symptoms or to enhance male fertility.
Current research shows that it has definite effects, and future research could further unlock its potential.
As a nootropic, there is some limited evidence to show that the increased L-DOPA levels could sway the mood and help improve well-being.
Anecdotal evidence certainly supports this, and hopefully, more research will come to the fore corroborating the experiences of the many who have used Mucuna Pruriens.