Mucuna pruriens is a tropical legume native to Africa and tropical Asia and widely naturalized and cultivated. Its English common names include velvet bean, cowage, cowitch. The plant is notorious for the extreme itchiness it produces on contact, particularly with the young foliage and the seed pods. Mucuna pruriens is well known by two Sanskrit names, Kapikacchu, which means “one starts itching like a monkey” and Atmagupta, which means “secret self,” and hints at the therapeutic value of the seed concealed within the allergenic seedpod.
In Ayurveda, Mucuna is used from ancient times for various neurological & general debility problems. It is used in dysfunction of all 3 dosha’s, viz Vata, Pitta, kapha especially in aggravated Vata & Pitta. It is Sweet & Bitter primarily, warm in potency. Mucuna is used especially as aphrodisiac agent to increase spermatogenesis and strengthening muscles / ligaments. As per Ayurveda, Mucuna pacifies aggravated Vata in Majja Dhatu (Nervous System), provides strength to basic structure of Nerves and helps to control body movements.
Research suggests Mucuna protects the brain by keeping cognitive and neural functions in check, even encouraging neural activity. The Antioxidants present donate an electron to the free radical to neutralize its effects, particularly on the brain. Mucuna has an added benefit in that it fights systemic redness in the brain, which is often a factor in brain degradation.
Mucuna contains a compound called L-DOPA which is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter. it help to increase libido, lean muscle mass, reducing signs of aging such as wrinkles and body fat, increasing bone density and even boosting overall energy levels.
L-DOPA from Mucuna has been shown to be safer and more effective for controlling various Nervine problems, this is because of the vast arrays of other chemical constituents that accompany L-DOPA in the unprocessed plant. Mucuna also looks to be very promising as a adjuvent solution for recovering drug addicts, alcohol withdrawal syndrome and people suffering from depression related illness, since these people have deficiencies of the neurotransmitters serotonin (which the velvet beans contain and help balance in the human body).