Mucuna Pruriens Summary
Mucuna pruriens is often referred to as the “magical velvet bean” as it is derived from a legume that is soft and velvety on the outside. It has been used for a long time in herbal medicine to treat things like male infertility, nervous disorders, certain diseases, and even as an aphrodisiac…. WOWEE!
While all those benefits are great, in this article we are going to discuss the benefits of mucuna pruriens as it relates to sleep, stress, etc.
And mucuna pruriens has one compound in it that is particularly good at improving these things. This compound is L-DOPA.
L-DOPA is a direct precursor to the compound dopamine. Dopamine is known as “the feel good” hormone that plays a big role in your brain’s rewards system. For example, ever feel good after getting a “like” on Instagram…that is a dopamine hit.
Dopamine is all about creating pleasurable sensations and making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
But enough about dopamine. Let’s discuss all the wonderful things about mucuna pruriens!
Let’s look at some of the studies associated with the benefits listed above.
A 2012 study conducted by McCarthy et al. took 18 healthy and active men and women, with evidence of impaired sleep quality, and had them supplement with mucuna pruriens daily for 28 days.
At the completion of the study the researchers found sleep quality was improved by 50% in the supplementation group.
A 2007 study conducted by Shukla et al. took 60 psychologically stressed men and had them supplement with mucuna pruriens daily for 3 months.
After all the data was collected and analyzed the researchers discovered the men who supplemented with mucuna pruriens were able to significantly reduce cortisol levels and stress compared to placebo.
In this 2009 double-blinded study, Shukla and colleagues took 75 subjects between the ages of 18-44 and had them supplement with mucuna pruriens for 1-6 months.
The researchers discovered that those who supplemented with mucuna pruriens increased dopamine levels by 10-15%.
What is also interesting is that testosterone also increased in the group who supplemented.
Prolactin is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland. High, abnormal amounts of this hormone in your blood can lead to infertility, menopausal symptoms, decreased sex drive, and other side effects.
A recent study done by Gupta et al. suggests mucuna pruriens can help keep prolactin levels in check.
They took 180 males between the ages of 30-44 with high prolactin levels and had them supplement with mucuna pruriens daily for 6 months. At the end of the study the researchers discovered supplementation was associated with a 5-7% decrease in prolactin levels.
Another interesting benefit of mucuna pruriens is its ability to restore levodopa, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in individuals with disease of the brain. To read more about this click here.
First and foremost, make sure any mucuna pruriens supplement you purchase is standardized for L-DOPA. Take 100-500mg daily to obtain the benefits listed above.
The best time to take mucuna pruriens is 15-30 minutes before bed or 60 minutes before a stressful situation.
Mucuna pruriens starts working immediately after ingestion but reaches peak levels in the blood after approximately 30 minutes. It should also be noted that it works better when taken daily.
For most people mucuna pruriens is a safe supplement to take. However, there have been side effects in a small percentage of the population. These are:
If you have any underlying medical conditions you should consult your doctor before taking mucuna pruriens.
The following people should not take a mucuna pruriens supplement
People of the following drugs should not take mucuna pruriens without first consulting their doctor.
Mucuna pruriens can be purchased as a stand alone supplement online at Amazon or as part of a comprehensive sleep product like EndurElite SleepElite X…a comprehensive sleep supplement that contains 200mg of mucuna pruriens plus 15 other sleep-inducing ingredients.
About the author:
Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California. Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.