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Mucuna pruriens, also known as cowitch and velvet bean [1; 2] is a traditional medicinal plant belonging to the Leguminosae family .
Benefits and effects
M. pruriens beans have been described as a possible and useful therapeutic agent for disease of the central nervous system (CNS) and also reproductive system . Leaves of M. pruriens have been documented as remedy for diabetes, arthritis, dysentery and cardiovascular disease . One report has described that compared to synthetic L-DOPA contained in Sinemet, L-DOPA derived from Mucuna is twice as powerful in controlling Parkinson disease symptoms .
A randomised, controlled double-blind crossover trial was carried out in order to compare the anti-parkinsonian effects of a mucuna seed powder formulation against synthetically produced L-DOPA . 30g of powdered M. pruriens extract formulation showed a longer duration of therapeutic response when compared to a dose of manufactured L-DOPA.
Mucuna pruriens depression and stress
A 5 gram M. pruriens seed powder treatment was taken orally over a 3-month period, and results showed improvements in psychological stress . Conclusions drawn from this data indicates that M. pruriens is not only able to circumvent and manage stress, but also regenerates the anti-oxidant system of infertile men . In rats, Mucuna pruriens was shown to dramatically alleviate stress-induced oxidative damage in the rat brain .
Using a methanol extract of M. pruriens to test its effectiveness against proliferating breast cancer cells, results confirmed that M. pruriens inhibited cancer cell growth .
Doses of 1000mg and 1500mg were administered to rats, and testis, blood and prostate were tested for analysis. Results indicated that the M. pruriens extract significantly increased relatives weights of testis and testicular testosterone levels; along with protein levels in the testis .
500mg/kg and 750mg/kg treatment of M. pruriens root extract caused significant increases in serum urea and creatinine levels .
Conversely, smaller doses – 125mg/kg and 25mg/kg – in animals did not cause structural changes in the liver. .
Safety and Side Effects
Individuals should not use M. pruriens if they have hypersensitivity to M. pruriens or its components .
One report found that a patient suffered from gastrointestinal problems. Additionally, M. pruiens should be avoided in patients with psychosis or schizophrenia .
The toxicity of Mucuna pruriens has been studied on the basis of whether or not its consumption has negative effects on kidneys . In a dose-dependent manner, 50-200mg/kg of M. pruriens methanol extract was administered to adult rats. Results demonstrated that high doses of the M. pruriens extract caused cell degeneration in kidney tissue compared to control groups .
Assessments of the effectiveness of Mucuna pruriens on five healthy human volunteers – in a single dose regiment of a 30mg powder extract – was evaluated. . The pharmacokinetic profile of the extract showed features similar to synthetically produced L-DOPA .