April 30, 2014
Mucuna Purens

The Velvet Bean (Mucuna Purens) has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, and many other forms of traditional medicine, for centuries. This unusual plant has many usages, due to a wide variety of benefits, that include aiding in the relief of chronic pain, improved mood enhancement, increased libido, blood sugar stabilization and increasing testosterone.

One of the main active ingredients responsible for many of the therapeutic benefits of the
Velvet Bean is Leva Dopa (L-Dopa), a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine dysregulation has been linked to several disease that include, Parkinson’s disease, chronic depression, drug addiction and the associated side-effects of withdrawal, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and schizophrenia.

Dopamine is considered a neurotransmitter associated with reward-motivated behavior, and many recreational drugs have addictive qualities because of their ability to increase circulating dopamine in the brain. Dopamine can enhance mood, create feelings of joy and euphoria, and is associated with our ability to feel pleasure and even fall in love.

Currently, Velvet Beans is available as an extract of 15% L-Dopa and has been researched as an alternative treatment for Parkinson’s disease, drug addiction withdrawal, and depression. I don’t currently advice pregnant women to use Velvet Bean as it can raise testosterone and inhibit prolactin; an important hormone needed to aid in lactation.

For people currently taking antidepressants or antipsychotic medications Velvet Bean is contraindicated. Current dosage recommendations are 30 grams twice daily, or approximately 1 heaping teaspoon twice a day. I don’t advice taking Velvet Bean unless you have spoken to your doctor first.

One of the best Velvet Bean extracts I have found is produced by Sun Potion, a small company located in Santa Barbara, California, and is currently available at Erewhon in powdered form.

Submitted by Dr. Whimsy, Certified Naturopathic Practitioner