Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine ● Longevity Nutrition

As an herbalist, I have strong concerns about the growing popularity and widespread use of the ancient herb, Mucuna pruriens, as an herbal and dietary supplement.  Mucuna pruriens has an almost magical ability to improve motivation, well being, energy and sex drive along with decreasing the tendency to overeat.  These properties are a result of its contents of natural L-dopa, a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Dopamine is always present in the nervous system.  Ultra-low levels (or dysfunction of dopamine receptors) lead to conditions like Parkinson’s.  Normal levels maintain proper function of the nervous system, promote normal motivation and sex drive and help to regulate the appetite.  We experience a stronger sense of well-being when dopamine is released in response to activities such as engaging in something novel or seeing a beautiful sunset.  We release even more if we accomplish a long-term goal or have a profound experience.  Dopamine is artificially elevated in response chemicals contained in alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, crystal meth and heroin as well as from overeating.  Excessive exposure to dopamine results in dopamine receptors not working properly.  As the nervous system needs higher and higher levels of dopamine to produce the same response, an individual seeks out more and more of the stimulating substance or activity.  This is the heart of addiction.

With its naturally-occurring L-dopa, Mucuna can be carefully used as a natural remedy to treat conditions such as addiction, obesity, dopamine-related depression or Parkinson’s.  However this MUST be done in conjunction with rehabilitation of the dopamine receptors.  Otherwise, it actually exacerbates the problem and causes further damage.  If given to people who suffer with depression from low serotonin, Mucuna can actually make the depression more severe by further lowering serotonin levels.  (Dopamine tends to suppress seretonin)

The addition of Mucuna to general dietary supplements and even to some multivitamins is completely irresponsible.  It has great capacity for misuse and in the long term could have health consequences.  Because of the seemingly magical effects of L-dopa, almost all people notice they feel better on these supplements and notice they feel worse when they stop them.  This is no different than creating another addiction.

Because of its effectiveness, I also have concerns about other herbalists and health care practitioners carelessly prescribing it without fully understanding its mechanism of action.  I am pro-education and anti-regulation.  I think Mucuna pruriens is a natural substance that practitioners need to actively educate themselves and the general public about.

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53 Responses to MUCUNA PRURIENS: CONCERNS ABOUT LONGTERM SIDE EFFECTS FROM OVERUSE AND MISUSE

  • sam says:

    Karen
    I agree with you on this. I would hate to this herb be considered a controlled substance by the FDA/AMA, but it would be a good candidate to only be dispensed by qualified herbal practitioners and it should be dispensed for a specific condition and not part of a general well-being daily supplement. I am surprised to see it be made like this, unless its with internet based health companies. Given its action on dopamine it should not be treated as a daily tonic for everybody who’s stressed.

    Mucuna pruriens has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine which certainly helps to back up its safety record, though I am not sure if its meant to be taken continuously year in year out. I thought Parkinsons patients are not able to continuously benefit from taking l-dopa as it eventually inhibits their own dopamine production. Likewise long term cocaine users do not experience improved quality of life as they try to get the same effects from over stimulated receptors by using larger amounts or taking it more often.

    I guess it depends on how much is taken and by who. A healthy person should have no reason to take it. A person who exhibits mild dopamine deficiency symptoms could well benefit long term as long as they don’t over stimulate. There are a swag of drugs available to treat serotonin deficiency but not a lot of options for someone who thinks their problems relate to dopamine. From my experience doctors cant see past serotonin when it comes to neurotransmitors.

  • Emilee says:

    “However this MUST be done in conjunction with rehabilitation of the dopamine receptors”

    Could you please provide any information/opinion you have on how to approach this? I agree that taking Mucuna pruriens is not the ultimate solution.

  • mallesh says:

    hello, karen
    i am a physiotherapist practicing well. i am also a consultant at one of the famous gyms. often i have seen youngsters asking me about using body plus tablets. i have seen that the capsules contain mucuna pruriens in it upto 80mgs per capsule and the daily recommended dosage on the packets in 2 capsules per day. would u like to comment on the benefits and risks of taking such amount of doses of mucuna prurien

  • Karen says:

    Hi Emilee,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my post and write a thoughtful comment.

    I’m a little obsessed with having solid references for everything I write and I haven’t had time to go back through the research to support my protocol. Here it is with no references. I hope you find it useful. To rehabilitate dopamine receptors from overuse I use L-tyrosine 1000mg 2x per day on an empty stomach along with a small dose of Rhodiola and a homeopathic preparation from Mountain States Health Products called Seretonin-Dopamine drops. Sometimes I add 1000-2000 mg of N-Acetyl-Cysteine to support glutathione production to help prevent wasting and loss of the endogenous dopamine. I want to note that this protocol doesn’t work at all for Parkinson’s (which is also from dopamine dysfunction). Since the incidence of Parkinson’s is 70% higher in farming communities, I suspect that there are chemicals interfering with the dopamine receptors.

  • Handytim says:

    Since Ive quit smoking 2 years ago, I found 1500 mg tyrosine and 1 or 2 doses of macuna 350mgs each helped restore my moods & libido into a my pre-smoking state..also scullcap, the American version helped me the lost with craves in my first year of quitting smoking, since I took Chantix for the fisrt 5 months of my quit

  • Tamra says:

    Karen,

    Thank you for your thoughtful article on Mucuna pruriens. I’ve been researching alternative therapies for my condition, fibromyalgia, and came across some information that suggested Mucuna might be beneficial for me. I took half the suggested dose yesterday morning and for about 4 hours I experienced less skeletal and muscle pain. It was a welcome relief. However, I had some gastrointestinal symptoms approx 20 minutes after taking it. Also, I felt a little strange for about 5 minutes before the GI symptoms appeared, although it didn’t produce anxiety. Previously I read there is a slight risk of acute psychosis if one takes too much Mucuna. So I’m wondering if perhaps for me it would be best not to take it daily but rather save the Mucuna for those times when my fibromyalgia pain is at its worst. I’ve also considered taking L-Tyrosine but have read that if taken long term this might also cause problems.

    • Karen says:

      I wouldn’t discourage use of Mucuna for Parkinson’s. I think it can be quite helpful and is an appropriate use of this herb. However, let’s go outside of this realm of this treatment and consider other treatments that are not short of miraculous. Here is a link to Dr. David Perlmutter’s footage of a Parkinson’s patient pre and post IV glutathione (a powerful antioxidant made in the liver that protects that nervous system and lungs and detoxifies various pollutants. Several of the doctors I work with have been using this treatment for over ten years and I can profess that I have seen similar results on hundreds of patients. CHECK IT OUT! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQRCpdcGwIU

  • David Lukas says:

    Dear Karen
    I read this article in which you said that:
    1- Mucunu can damage dopamine receptors if over used. Yet you do not mention what the dosage range to produce this effect or the reference outling the trial when this is established. Please provide this information.
    2- You said Mucunu lowers serotonin and makes depression worse? Again where is the evidence? i.e your references?
    I do agree with you that ANY healing modality can be over done if the dosage is excessive and used for longer than is recommended.
    So you know i am a herbalist with a intimate working knowledge of 457 herbs ( i have a photograhic memory ), Im trained in chinese medicine, Have a diploma in advanced supplement training, and i am trained in intergrated N.L.P and advanced hypnotherapy which i use to help smokers quit cigarettes in 60 minutes, my success rate with this this is 97%. In have Used Mucunu with many patients successfully for depression and within half the recommended dose, none of these patients stayed on it long term ( no more than 6 to 9 months ) and so far i have not had one patient say they suffered any adverse effect.
    I am surprised that you make such claims without the references to back up what you are saying.You say you are against the regulation of natural medicines. Have you stopped to consider that such comments if read by “the powers that be could give them just cause to restrict and regulate such a wonderful and safe herb? Please consider what you say, as that old saying goes ” A little bit of information is dangerous “. I want to make one thing clear…… I am am not here to have a go at you. The fact that you want to help people is a wonderful thing. My main point is simply this……Provide the full information ( and preferably from an independant source so it is free of vested interests ) or Do not say anything at all.
    Sincerely David Lukas.

    • Karen says:

      Wow David,
      Thank you for your information-filled, illuminating comment. It sounds like you are very qualified and experienced so I will be sure to watch for anything you publish and pass it along to my readers.

      I’m sure if you were unclear then many of my readers must have been as well. Thank you for the opportunity to rectify this.

      As you point out, there is very little known and very little research available about Mucuna. This is exactly my point. Ayervedic doctors have obviously been using it safely for centuries. If used appropriately, it has miraculous effects. However, with its emergence into the mainstream with promises of weight loss and anti-aging, I believe, as a health care practitioner, it would be irresponsible to not raise concerns about potential “overuse and misuse”. Used in this way, I have strong concerns about its safety. As we have seen with herbs like ephedra, misuse and ill effects directly spawned the regulation. If we can pre-empt any side effects from misuse by raising awareness, the chances of Mucuna ever being regulated are reduced.

      Mucuna is a unique herb in that it contains naturally-occurring L-dopa. There is no research showing that Mucuna damages dopamine receptors and I make no claim that it does. I simply point out that excessive stimulation of the dopamine receptors, through any means, results in damage and diminished function and that Mucuna could contribute to this.

      It would be a great contribution if someone could give us an idea of safe and unsafe dosages of Mucuna. Perhaps with your extensive experience David, you can help expand our boundaries of this knowledge instead of simply pointing out shortcomings.

      With regards to dopamine suppressing serotonin I mistakenly assumed that anyone who would have this level of understanding would already know about this basic dynamic and the accompanying theories of opponance and convergence in the various parts of the brain. Here is an article that has several references to this dynamic http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2612120/
      Here is another, less well-referenced allusion to this theory http://www.neuroassist.com/neurotransmitter-depletion-Balance-Between-Serotonin-And-Dopamine.htm

      Knowledge not regulation,
      Karen

  • sneh says:

    I tried this herb powder, that was given by a ayurvedic doctor from india. He just gave me as a tonic, not for any problem. But after two months i started to have acid refluxe and my whole digetion is massed up. I went to GI doctor and did an endoscopy and checked for h-pylori which came negative and he found that i had redness and irritation in my stomach and prescribed nexium, which i took but still didn’t get better then i went to india to see a doctor there, and he did a endoscopy and there was lot more redness in the stomach and he gave me antibiotic for ten days for H-pylori and anti-acid medicines i felt good and got better while i was in india. But when came back to USA and slowly started feeling bad again, i can’t eat as much as i used to eat before this problem. I lost lot of waight becasue i don’t eat much,if i eat more then i get gas, and bloating problem. I don’t know if this herb started this problem or not but it all started after eating this herb powder.

    • Karen says:

      Although, GI symptoms are a side effect of L-dopa toxicity, I think it is unlikely that you were taking enough of this herb to cause your situation. However, I think it is always valuable to note cases like this so that trends can be properly tracked. Most Ayervedic formulas contain several herbs so it would be difficult to know if it was Mucuna in the combination that triggered your problem. I’m sure you are more concerned about fixing your problem. I would highly recommend seeing either a Chinese Medicine Practitioner with a strong background in herbs or a naturopath who might use supplements such as DGL and l-glutamine. I sympathize with your situation and am certain that you should be able to find someone to help you fix it.

  • gul maloney says:

    I am 44 years old female and i have been diagnosed with parkinson D. for 4 years, I have been on levedopa over a year.. levedopa really helped me with my simptoms but now side effects really getting me such as my eyes, and bleeding and etc.. i was wondering if i change my diet and use only natural food and vitamins would be better because I really dont want to depand on something is slowley killing me (levedopa). I was wondering should I use mucuna instead levedopa.

  • Tamra says:

    Karen,

    Thanks for your response. I’m wondering if, because I also have IBS, any new herb might cause the GI symptoms I had when I first took Mucuna. I haven’t had the nerve to try it again, which is sad because it really did help the pain. I’ve since learned I was misdiagnosed for years with fibromyalgia, but instead had undiagnosed hypothyroidism which, consequently, developed into thyroid cancer. Sadly, I lost my thyroid late last year, but happily, I am now cancer free. However, I still suffer with the pain and other symptoms of hypothyroidism while I try to balance my hormones with thyroid replacement. There are so many other things I need to balance as a result of losing my thyroid and having been misdiagnosed and left untreated for so long. I’ll take your advice and try to find a Chinese doctor. Thank you :)

  • Liz says:

    I, irresponsibly took mucuna for about 12 days on the advice of a friend.
    At first I felt great…energetic, good mood. Then on day 5 I felt more normal, but slept more and better.
    On day 11 I started smelling smoke where there was no smoke. That phantom smell continued and I stopped taking the mucuna because I figured it was caused by the “supplement”.
    Now, on day 16, I still smell smoke all the time. I’m wondering if this is the mucuna. (or did it coincidentally happen at the same time and I’m bound for a head scan or worse).
    Any thoughts?

  • mocha says:

    I have purchased “her solution” pills, featured or DR. Oz show, for enhancement of female libido. It boasts 100% natural ingredients. I decided to research each individual herbs when i came across your blog. Do you know if its safe to use?

  • Trajan says:

    I found your article to be very helpful. I’ve been abstinent from all mind-altering substances for a little over 6 months. The neurotransmitter recovery period is both frustrating and extraordinarily slow. So, when I read about Mucuna, I ordered it immediately and sure enough it provided exactly the type of relief I needed. However, I quickly suspected an eerie premonition that I was going down the same road I’d been down with nicotine, THC and alcohol previously. So, I’m going to try your recommendation for dopamine recovery instead. Thanks.

  • Trajan says:

    I also found the information below, which seems to back up some of your concerns about the potential for L-dopa toxicity:

    Abstract
    Levodopa is considered the gold standard for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. However, a serious concern is dyskinesia and motor fluctuation that occurs after several years of use. In vitro experiments have shown that in the presence of divalent copper ions, levodopa may induce intense DNA damage. Mucuna pruriens cotyledon powder (MPCP) has shown anti-parkinson and neuroprotective effects in animal models of Parkinson’s disease that is superior to synthetic levodopa. In the present study two different doses of MPCP protected both plasmid DNA and genomic DNA against levodopa and divalent copper-induced DNA strand scission and damage. It exhibited chelation of divalent copper ions in a dose-dependent manner. The copper chelating property may be one of the mechanisms by which MPCP exerts its protective effects on DNA.

    Phytotherapy Research
    Published Online: 11 Jul 2007

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/c…TRY=1&SRETRY=0

  • Trajan says:

    I should clarify my last post, it appears that the study above (abstract only provided) indicates that Mucuna Pruriens delivers the benefits of L-dopa administration while it protects against DNA damage whereas synthetic L-dopa (levodopa) is destructive to DNA and possibly responsible for dyskinesia.

    I am far from making any claims of knowledge or expertise, merely passing along information.

  • I am interested in the GI issue too, and am trying to draw the connection between 4-phenylbutric acid, which was developed by the Russians in the 60s to treat post traumatic stress dissorder, and was used by Bio Cehm in it’s sleep and anti stress suppliments Tesnsion RX and Tension RX Sleep, both of which have been taken off the market. Last week I found several inter -net publications linking this suppliment as being a derivitive of Mucuna Periens, and now that info is hard to find. I am using Phenibut, as a sleep enhancer… it too increases serotonin, which is a derivitive of L-dopa, so does anyone know the relationship of these substances? Thanks!

  • Naturopathic Man says:

    Karen,
    Although it is possible for herbs to cause imbalances if improperly used, they are naturally balanced and buffered to avoid most side effects that drugs have. Unlike isolated L-dopa, Mucuna contains serotinin, 5 HTP and a number of other compounds that balance out the effect of L-dopa and increased dopamine levels. In fact, the effect of Mucuna with it’s natural levels of L-dopa 3-6% is actually more relaxing than stimulating. It is only when the L-dopa levels are artificially raised that it can have more drug like side effects. but even in this case, it still has the other balancing compounds. I hve used it with a number of patients successfully with no problems. It is not appropriate for everyone though.

  • Jason says:

    Hi I was wondering if I may need a neurotransmitter test bc last yr I took mucuna pruriens 2000 mg. which is the equivalent to 300 mg. of ldopa for 2 months after about 4 wks after I started having dizzy vertigo loss of concentration anxiety no motivation my life is horrible right now did I give myself parkinsons or am I curable

  • wendy says:

    I was diagnosed with PMDD about a year ago, which I have been told is a hormonal imbalance. It has progressively worsened as I age (44). I am normally very happy and outgoing but about 2 days before my cycle I get incredibly depressed and anxious. I feel overwhelmed and cannot leave my home. I cry for hours for no apparent reason and it has just been horrible. It has affected my personal and professional life. I have tried taking hormones, birth control, anti-depressants, acupuncture and meditation and nothing has helped. I started taking Mucana Pruriens 40% L-Dopa once a day a week before my period and I cannot believe the difference. I can actually function. I still feel a bit emotional but no where even close to how it has been. After reading the above I am concerned about the dosage. The bottle reads to take 1 capsule -1 capsule is 450 mg. What is the recommended daily dosage? Do you think I should only take it around my cycle or continue?
    Thank you

  • Austin says:

    Mucuna Pruriens also has a really cool effect on dreams if it is taken just before going to sleep. The small amount of DMT contained in Mucuna can cause wild and extremely vivid dreams. I have had some wonderful dreams as a result of this practice. One dream I was moving over a thick layer of clouds and to my left and right were oriental style houses resting on the clouds which had intricate designs all over them. Coming off of the side of the houses were really fantastic patterns of sails, like on a old style ship. In another dream I was flying around in circles really fast and in my dream learned to control my flying… super fun!

    Aside from that cool effect of Mucuna, it really helps me with dopamine related depression and addictions I am dealing with. I have also read from various sources that dopamine is required for the synthesis of human growth hormone. HGH plays a huge role in longevity and, in particular, muscle growth and repair.

    =]

  • Jason Hunt says:

    I have taken adder all everyday for 3 years, I started taking this and the focus it gives me helped me STOP the MONSTER!!! :D Is this really a more detrimental alternative??? Doesn’t seem so! :p

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  • healthconscious says:

    Dear Karen, thanks so much for your caring and expertise! Please advise how long to take your Rehab Dopamine Receptor protocol?

    Also how many of the drops you suggested and how much is a small dose of Rhodiola (in mg)? I am trying to help someone close to me who has been opiate addicted for 6 yrs & they don’t like the side effects of taking Suboxone such as extreme constipation– so sometimes they skip it and then relapse. Plus I think natural healing is the way to go if possible.

    Please help me help my friend who really wants to just be normal again. They also struggle with bad anxiety and tense/worried feelings and is very down on himself when not using. God bless you for any helpful suggestions you can send my way!.

  • Lauren says:

    Karen:

    Your advice and responses are expressed with humility, kindness, and wisdom. Please be encouraged to continue your posts. For those of us suffering with ADD or dopamine based depressive issues, this is a lifeline of options that are not readily available from other sources.

    Gratitude and blessings,
    Lauren

  • Gaylynn says:

    I recently learned of the poss hello mucuna may give to quit smoking. I an an herbalist but am daily humbled in this field learning something new all the time. I have several smokers looking for a help and I gave them mucuna. They just started this. My question is what program would u recommend ..for how long.. And how to transition off ? Please respond..

  • Justine Weaver says:

    Has anyone used Mucuna for a long term period (years) for libido issues???

    I will shortly describe my problem:
    Due to endocrine & psychological problems (hypothyrodisim, dythymia, and other hormonal imbalances) over years I have developed frigidity.
    I’ve been on syntethic hormones, I also tried various antidepressants that boost serotonine levels, and…it didnt work well for me.They havent restored my libido, also for my mood and motivational issues the results were lousy.
    SO I HAVE DECIDED TO TRY TO RAISE MY DOPAMINE. Since none of the psychiatrist seems to be willing to prescribe me dopamine agonists I am forced to look for other solutions.

    My 1st question is: Is Mucuna the right choice for my condition?
    And for how long (and how much) is it save for me to take it?
    (It is said that L-dopa itself might cause dyskinesia after 5-10 years of usage, but there is no evidence that Mucuna Pruriens has the same effect.)

    I’ve looked through the forum, and what caught my attention is the procedure of ‘Dopamine Receptors Rehabilitaion’. Could anyone explain how Rhodiola and L-tyrosine works to restore the receptors??
    So far as I know L-tyrosine is a dopamine precursor, but doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier easily…so how does it work to rehabilitate the dopamine receptors o.O?

    Please help :)

  • barleysinger says:

    David Lukas,

    Karen says what she says regarding the terrible dangers of Mucuna out of ignorance of the differences between this herb and the current group of Parkinsons’s meds. They are very different things.

    She really needs to do some PUBMED and other web searches before telling people information that is far from accurate. I will do my best to include actual studies, though my back pain will limit this. I can;t find the one I had up yesterday that referenced PROOF of no “wearing off” in mucuna (so far s good – more studies are in process) but I know it was on PUBMED, and I am in pain so this will just have to do.

    Levadopa is the med most commonly used medication used in Parkinsons. It has huge problems. As the medication is used for longer periods of time, the patient has serious problems. The majority of people taking levodopa develop complications caused by long-term levodopa therapy within 5 to 10 years. The medication itself induces “significantly disabling fluctuations and dyskinesias” (it makes it hard to move normally & only when you WANT to) and this is not the case with Mucuna.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600052/
    http://www.naturalnews.com/028938_Mucuna_Parkinsons.html
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15548480
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9395621

    1) Mucuna was the source of the L-Dopa in the first Parkinsons meds and it is STILL preferred by many patients BECAUSE
    2) unlike the new “official” meds, Mucuna does *NOT* require a constant increase in how often you take it due to “wearing off” in the same manner as levadopa and other standard Parkinsons meds do. Essentially on the standard OLD way of doing things, you got about 5 years of relief (on average) from your Parkinsons meds, as your doses had to move closer and closer together (it wore off too fast). At the outer most edge of any possibly ability to use levadopa, you MIGHT get 10 years (unlikely but vaguely possible).

    By the end of you time on the medication regimen, your “wearing off” is so large that the medication is not useful as a way of treating your symptoms. When you stop (or run out of it working well) you are stuffed. In many cases patients have such large movement problems that they wish they had never taken the medications and had just lived with the tremors.

    As far as I can tell, she says these things about Mucuna without the references because THERE ARE NONE. I find one that say the opposite quite easily.

    • Karen says:

      Hello Barleysinger,
      I’m always torn as to how to handle comments like yours. You are clearly not a troll, and obviously have some knowledge to contribute to the conversation. When I wrote the article several years ago, there was very little information about Mucuna’s mechanism of action and how to use it safely. Several supplement companies were marketing it for a variety of purposes. The information in the article was provided so that people could make informed decisions about using Mucuna. It sounds like you have wonderful knowledge to share regarding using Mucuna for Parkinson’s and perhaps some other diseases. Perhaps you could share and expand upon your knowledge instead of being abusive and misquoting me.

  • barleysinger says:

    I’m sorry about the above misspellings. I am in pain (as I said) and it affects my typing quality. I also have damage to my temporal lobes which causes me to MISS my typos until AFTER I have sent the message, which tends to affect how people view what I post. Oh well.

    Incidentally my uncle by marriage HAS PARKINSONS (late stage by now) and is a physician. He refused to use levadopa therapy for the very reasons stated above. He has memory trouble now, and is slow to talk and at times hard to understand. You must be patient to speak to him (but it is worth it). Had he taken levadopa, he would have long since passed its usefulness – and it would have left him with massive problems in movement (and there are some indications it increases dementia onset). He would essentially be a shaking whirling dervish of movement and his mouth would not behave at all…so he would be unable to talk in a manner understandable to most people.

    By comparison, Mucuna is a godsend and under massive investigation in a number of dopamine related illnesses including Parkinsons. The synthetics (like levadopa) gave people false hope. In the years leading up to the re-discovery of Mucuna, patients with Parkinsons were told NOT to begin therapy with levadopa until the symptoms were making life utterly unbearable.

    Mucuna is now under intense study by the world of Parkinsons researchers and many of their patients now use a combination of levadopa and Mucuna whereas others have just switched over to mucuna completely and LOVE IT.

    Look up the links I put above & here they are again :

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600052/
    http://www.naturalnews.com/028938_Mucuna_Parkinsons.html
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15548480
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9395621

    And do your own web searches for more.

    Be Informed

    I tend to find the best articles that cite actual studies (human, in vitro and animal) by including the phrase “et al” in my google search, with the quotes, as so many studies use that shorthand to only mention the primary researchers names (they are a bit lazy at times). That does not always get the best results. I do find that it helps me to it find things that I would otherwise miss.

    You can start with this link to PUBMED

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Parkinson+mucuna+levadopa

  • steve says:

    I’m thinking it would be safer to take Tyrosine and let your body produce the l-dopa naturally as needed.
    I have never taken mucuna but I have just gotten off remeron, an antidepressant that also helped me sleep.
    So, now I am trying to find alternatives to help me sleep, occasional anxiety, and occasional depression.
    Tried Glycine, Passionflower, theanine, chamomile, and soon Kava kava (supposedly can cause liver problems though) with varying degrees of effectiveness. Doesn’t help that i also have IC which makes me get up to pee a few times a night!
    I have tried Ashwaganha during the day but it makes me feel a little strange (I may try it to help me sleep).
    In the past I’ve used St. John’s Wort for the anxiety and Sam-e for depression but I’m trying to avoid St. John’s Wort because that has issues of it’s own.
    I’m going to try Rhodiola next.
    The Remeron worked well for me but made me gain weight and I don’t like taking drugs but it was a lot easier than taking a bunch of supplements and hoping a combo works. What a pain in the arse!

  • Lena S says:

    I am glad i found this site and the information on how to take this supplement

    I had started to take a brand of Mucuna Pruriens with 2 capsule giving 800mg Mucuna and 15% L-dopa

    I was taking it every day for 4 days, it was like a miracle, all stress gone, a feeling of well being, calm and inner peace, mental focus, heart palpitations (just from worrying about problems) gone and really good restful sleep and no more anxious overeating.

    However, I had to stop because it was giving me allergic reaction, my nose was getting very congested and my mouth and throat very swollen and dry, hard to swallow, and on the 4th day i was not able to sleep well because my sinus was swollen and congested. Too bad

    First I thought it was an effect of too much serotonin contained in the herb, I have read in scientific papers, that serotonin is a potent vaso-constrictor and can cause breathing problems, because constricts the arteries and breathings ways.
    Then I read that instead Mucuna has pod’s hair, which contain histamines. So it must have been just a simple allergic reaction from the hairs, most likely since I was taking such a high dose of herb (800 mg) even if the concentration of L-Dopa was low (15%) and every single day

    I think that is I try a Mucuna, where the herb concentration is lower than the one I was using maybe just 200 mg versus 800 mg with same concentration of L-Dopa (15%) this may help my situation better with the histamines, i hope
    All the effects and ingredients from this herb seem to be beneficial and they are
    I do have an important question about the Serotinin level contained in this herb, I hope anyone with appropriate knowledge can be able to shed some light:

    I am a little curious and a bit concerned about Mucuna also contains Serotonin

    Until a week ago i thought Serotonin was the youth and well being hormone which helps all the other hormones
    Then I found out, reading scientific papers as mentioned above, that it is a potent vaso-constrictor of the internal organs, like the brain, heart and lungs, so I was taken aback, and I am a bit confused about this controversy, whether it is good or bad for you, yes it makes you feel good, but on which consequences? Of getting a stroke after years of using it??

    It seems from what I read that makes your arteries hard and put you on risk of coronary diseases on the other hand it is antioxidant and good for you and counteracts stress. Also it seems that it is not safe to get Serotonin directly into the blood stream, and that it should only be in the brain, not in the blood (through Tryptophan or similar supplements)
    So because now, after reading this, I am still confused about Serotonin,and want to be cautious, I would like to know if anybody knows how much of it (serotonin) is contained in lets say 200 mg Mucuna Pruriens with 15% L-Dopa?

    Does an 800 mg Mucuna with 15% L-dopa– have more or less serotonin– than your 200 mg Mucuna?

    I also read that the serotonin in the Mucuna only appears on the outer skin of the herb, would that imply that most of it disappear during the process? I am hoping so.

    I appreciate if anybody can reply with more info and feedback,
    Thanks
    Lena

  • John says:

    I’m a Parkinson’s patient that uses Sinemet with a dosing of Mucuna Pruriens. I am also a successful DBS patient. I use MP (Mucuna Pruriens) to keep the wearing off of the Sinemet from being so profound, i.e. a low is not as low as it would be absent the MP. My neurologist is actually glad that I successfully use the supplement. Using the MP post DBS surgery keeps me more stable than without it. I take the MP powder in a “00” size capsule that I fill myself and take twice daily, approximately 1 every 12 hours.

  • John says:

    …oh, I’ve read extensively the research on PubMed, which is what prompted me to get my own “Research” subscription which I have on my iPad and goes everywhere with me. I concur with Mr. Lucas in that the research is a real eye-opener. Doctors are just people and know only what they do. After all, what do we call a physician that graduates at the bottom of his/her class? …we call them Doctor. For Parkinson’s patients, become familiar with the research, become associated with the hospital(s) that also have a medical college, and increase your own knowledge about your disease. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn.

  • amit says:

    I have been On SSRI’s since past 15 yrs. Now the problem is that my Sex Drive has gone out of the window ( forget about performance). As far as i know this has happened because of dopamine Shortage. I was planning to use Mucuna capsules to rectify the problem. But I am really confused. Should I should I not. If yes in what dosage. Is it Safe or Not.

    In short I am looking for a Solution and would appreciate if anybody can help me with that.

    • Karen says:

      I wrote this article quite awhile ago because there was a growing trend of people using Mucuna for weight loss. At the time there was very little research on Mucuna. I thought it was important for people to understand how it worked so that they could make an informed decision before using it. Mucuna is not inherently bad. When used appropriately can seem like magic. SSRI’s are notorious for interfering with sex drive but it may or may not have anything to do with dopamine. In fact, SSRI’s can have a secondary effect of raising dopamine, likely because they create an additional burden on other enzymes that break dopamine. In other words there are fewer enzymes available to break down dopamine so, by default, its levels may rise. Because SSRI’s also cause weight gain, I’m going to take a guess that they increase aromatization (conversion) of testosterone into estrogen. Testosterone is, of course, most strongly associated with increased sex drive. The body is a magical and confusing thing. Keep looking and you will find the answers.

  • C.Clems says:

    It’s always interesting to study herbals and I use quite a few myself along with some supplements. I very much agree with Karen way back in 2009 post. However, anyone who mentions the use of a homeopathic remedies immediately loses all credibility with me. Lets not abandon science and critical thinking. If homeopathy worked to cure any disease we could all take a tiny sip from a river or ocean and be cured of everything.

  • Stevie says:

    Hi Karen

    Thanks for the article.

    I have a curios question. I have had low dopamine capacity from severe reaction to tourettes medication that destroys neurons that convert tyrosine to ldopa, and Parkinson’s and MS is in the family, and very low test and adrenal fatigue. This is such that I have yo take ldopa or increase my rate of tyrosine to ldopa conversion in the remaining cells, if there us not any other blockages on the way. Question below:

    I tried mucuna, and found out if I took it for a short while I did not feel too much, but on the third day I started feeling better and on the fourth I felt really great for up to 2 weeks, having not taken it past the second or third day (a while ago and a bit confusing). Would you have any idea of what could cause this? I’m thinking it is something to do with the different chemical pathways in the brain and receptors, but do not know what.

    I have spent a very long time on the internet trying to find dosage information, which is difficult for me, particularly in Indian medicine, even how to actually prepare it and use it. and have seen surprisingly little, to the extent I don’t know. People talk from 1g to 5g+ (Parkinson) but I think such an high amount is overly reactive joint thinking that might be detrimental. It would be good to have one place on the internet that outlines what normal amounts are for different conditions that are considered safe in the industry. Maybe you might like to do this?

    Somebody mentioned serotonin in the shell/hairs. Yes the shell and the beans are different in chemical makeup and you don’t know what is in the powder. I don’t remember the difference, so people would have to look it up.

    About David. Being in a lot of pain does that to you. Maybe to finish the thread you could put together current information and post it, or an article with link here, to answer future readers questions?

    Thanks

    Stevie.

    • Karen says:

      Hello Stevie!
      I am honored that you took the time to give us all some feedback on your experiences with Mucuna. Thank you!!!

      While I don’t claim to be omniscient on the subject, I have a couple of thoughts. First, it seems reasonable that you improved after 2-3 days of taking Mucuna because you probably built up to a therapeutic dose of l-dopa. After that, the receptors may have become less responsive and lost their sensitivity. Rehabilitating receptors has a lot of unknowns. I’ve had some conversations with several practitioners about this. Various ideas that have had some success include: Adding N-Acetyl-Cysteine which is a precursor of glutathione. It helps to recycle neurotransmitters and quell inflammation through its strong antioxidant capacity. SAMe is another recommended possibility. The thought here is that is helps to re-methylate (turn off) DNA signaling that is overly active and “burning out” cell function. Methylation issues are common with neurological disorders. The main “vitamins” that promote this are B12, Folic acid and B6. If any of these are not being converted properly (usually due to genetics) then there is a breakdown in the methylation process. Taking methyl folate, methyl B12, pyridoxine-5-phosphate along with SAMe to start will sometimes lead to improvement. Rhodiola sometimes helps too. Heavy metals like mercury and neurotoxins like some pesticides can certainly reap havoc on the receptor’s function. There is an enzymes the clears pesticides called PON1 that is strongly activated by the ketogenic diet. This diet also calms down inflammation in the nervous system by shutting down NFkappaB and activating PPAR. There are lots of books on how to do this.
      The other possibility is more complex. Increasing any biogenic amines (seretonin, histamine, dopamine etc) places an extra burden on the enzymes that break the amines down (SSAO, MAO, DAO). This can lead to an accumulation of all these amines over several days. In other words, the Mucuna could have led to a rise in seretonin, dopamine and histamine (which is excitatory).
      I do need to do an updated article on the newer research and will work on setting aside some time to do that. In the meantime, feel free to give your own impressions of any articles you find.

      Keep seeking,
      Karen

  • - says:

    [ April 15, 2014 ]—–First, many thanks to the page owner and author, Karen Turtak, for providing a space for discussing additional information about “balancing brain chemicals” (if you’ll excuse the phrase). Her original 2009 post about Mucuna seemed balanced and restrained, and it was surprising to read some of the follow-on attacks. My addition to the discussion will be a little general. I have struggled for years (easily 20 years) with a kind of low-grade depression which has been diagnosed variously as “generalized anxiety disorder” or “dysthymia”, treated mainly with loosely Freudian-based “talk therapy” (about 10 years) followed by CBT (about 1 exhausting year of keeping lists of mood states and emotional triggers so that I could develop … “mindfulness”). I did try Ritalin and Paxil and Prozac (more or less concurrently at the beginning of my attempt to resolve my depression) but found them … off the mark. And so, therapy and endless talking about the various miserable aspects of my life. A few years ago, my mother (whom I was very close with) died, which much exacerbated things. Recently I changed jobs and had some time along the way to do some googling about depression and found that … there are differing depressions! Depression due to low serotonin, or due to low dopamine, or due to low norepinephrine … or maybe due to low levels (or poor uptake due to upregulation) of all 3 substances. Over 10 years seeing shrinks and … not one of them bothered to mention one thing. They just took my insurance money and co-pays and let me talk and talk … for 10 years. I stumbled onto this page looking for answers to norepinephrine-depleted depression because (I think) I basically burnt out my adrenals and norepinephrine receptors after being in a series of very stressful jobs (and doing the whole coffee-sugar-carb thing to jack up me up). I tried St. John’s Wort but even fairly large doses (12 capsules a day roughly 3000+mg) just gave me a buzzing headache but still no lift in my lethargy. It seems Mucuna works more on dopamine-depleted depression, while it might be that L-Tyrosine works more on norepinephrine-depleted depression.

    In any case, the discussion space/comments have been helpful … thanks.
    ——————————————————————————————-

  • Tonya says:

    I am a 43-year old female and was diagnosed with hyperprolactinemia about 4 years ago. Since MRI showed no adenoma, my doctor wanted to prescribe Cabergoline for two years, then try discontinuing to see of prolactin would remain at normal level. I have been off the Cabergoline for 2 years. Last year, my prolactin level was at 33 – tolerable and my doctor was willing to just let everything ride with no medication. I have been taking Vitex (chaste berry) for the past year as it has been used to help keep prolactin levels down. I just had annual blood work done and my prolactin has increased to 46 (my level was at 80 upon initial diagnosis). After doing some more research, I have found several internet articles claiming that Mucuna Pruriens is more effective at reducing prolactin than Vitex. I started trying the Mucuna today. I took 1 capsule (250mg – 15mg LDopa) along with 150 mg EGCG. I took it on an empty stomach. I have some concerns and questions, though…is that dosage okay? How long do I need to wait to eat after taking it? Is it habit-forming? Do I need to take “breaks” from the medication to keep it effective? I think most of the posts I’ve read, were by males (possibly body-builders), will this work the same for a female? Any other suggestions? (I have NO other health issues or concerns to complicate matters.)

    Thanks for your input!
    Tonya

    • Karen says:

      Hello Tonya,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my site. Apologies for the huge delay in responding to your question. I’ve never treated hyperprolactinemia with Mucuna. I’m curious if you have continued your experiment. I’m sure other readers would LOVE the feedback. I’ll take some time to research it and give you my impressions. Otherwise, the absolute most effective thing I have found for your issue is Chinese Herbal Medicine. You should find someone in your area who specializes in fertility and obstetric issues.

  • Mario says:

    Dear Karen,

    First I’d like to thank you, Mr. Lucas, Stevie and all others for really empowering article and comments. I was confused about Mucuna before and I’m not any more now. At least not that much.
    My conclusion after reading all comments is, that low dose and cycling are probably best way to go with Mocuna Pruriens.
    Relatnig to this I’d like to ask Stevie what dose did he took for those 2-3 days?
    Thank you.

    Mario

  • Jackie Johnson says:

    I read your article and it is very informative. I have been researching information on Mucuna. My husband has Parkinsons with some depression and sexual dysfunctioning. I was hoping this would help somewhat. he is already taking simminet which has L-dopa in it and is wondering about any reactions if he took this also. he also takes Azilect which I read somewhere that this conflicts with MAO drugs. Anyone have any input or feedback? Thanks