Mucuna Pruriens Benefits for Dopamine, Testosterone and Better Sleep


Velvet bean healthMucuna pruriens is one of the more potent mood enhancing and libido stimulating superfoods available, with noticeable health benefits and a long list of uses.

This powerful herb can have a direct influence on your brain’s neurotransmitters and potentially have beneficial effects on your mental state, energy levels, ability to relax and even body composition and libido.

Mucuna isn’t for everyone though and it’s important to read the dosage information and potential precautions before taking it. Strength and quality varies but there are details on high potency mucuna pruriens capsules and an organic seed powder at the end of this article.

What is Mucuna Pruriens?

Mucuna pruriens is a tropical vine that produces bean pods covered in prickly velvet hair. The seeds inside of these pods are the most valuable part of the plant from a medicinal point of view.

Also known as kapikachhu, cowhage and velvet bean, mucuna pruriens has been used for centuries in many traditional cultures as a healing plant for a variety of different ailments.

In Ayurvedic medicine, kapikachhu is known as a nerve tonic and adaptogen that helps the body deal with stress. It is one of the few herbs, alongside ginseng, brahmi and the amazing amla, known to balance all three of the doshas. It also has quite a reputation as an aphrodisiac.

Modern science has revealed the velvet bean to be one of the best food sources of the amino acid L-dopa. Also called levodopa, L-dopa is a direct precursor to dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter in your brain involved in mood, alertness, sexuality and many other important functions.

Dopamine doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier so it cannot be taken or administered directly for therapeutic results. You can however potentially increase your dopamine levels if you’re low on it by making available more of the amino acid L-dopa for dopamine creation.

Low Dopamine and L-Dopa

The neurotransmitter dopamine acts upon your central nervous system and, in concert with other neurotransmitters, plays a vital role in motivation, attention, memory, mood, relaxation, sexual desire, sleep and many other areas. You can read much more on the complexities of how dopamine works here.

Regularly using stimulants like caffeine, high levels of sugar, nicotine and other drugs can lead to a lowering of dopamine production in the brain and leave you feeling edgy, craving food, restless and unable to relax.

Possible longer-term symptoms of low dopamine levels include difficulty concentrating, constant tension, social anxiety, general negativity, ongoing low-energy and decreased libido.

People suffering Parkinson’s disease are known to lack dopamine in the brain and some research has shown that mucuna pruriens may benefit the condition. Scientists are also studying the link between low dopamine and depression.

Benefits of kapikachhuIf mucuna pruriens and its L-dopa can be used to normalize dopamine levels for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease or clinical depression it may have important applications as a treatment. Especially since mucuna extract has been shown to be more effective than isolated L-dopa in research studies.

That said, Parkinson’s is a very serious disease and the causes of depressions are varied. Both should be treated by knowledgeable health care professional and the use of herbal supplements discussed first as they may interfere with other treatments.

Particularly in the case of serious depression, mucuna would not be appropriate for many people. This is especially true in cases where symptoms manifest as occasional mania alongside depression as too much dopamine may only increase problems.

Kapikachhu for Mood Enhancement

For someone experiencing lowered dopamine levels due to stimulant use and the stresses of modern life, mucuna can have a significantly positive effect on their mood.

Research like this study shows the L-dopa in mucuna pruriens increases dopamine in the brain cortex. Many people report mood enhancement and elevated alertness within an hour of taking kapikachhu powder or mucuna pruriens supplements on an empty stomach.

It’s important to mention though that more is not better in the case of dopamine and dosages of the L-dopa in mucuna should be low. A gentle increase in available dopamine can have many beneficial effects on mental and physical well being.

On the other hand, large amounts of L-dopa in excess of the recommended dosage may produce negative results like high blood pressure, tension and nervousness. It really is better to start off slow with mucuna pruriens.

How Mucuna Pruriens Increases Testosterone

Testosterone production plays a central role in libido and sexual performance for both men and women. While women produce much less testosterone than men, it is still a vital hormone for sexual interest and desire.

Mucuna has been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac for both men and women. One of the scientific reasons why the herb has been so effective for this purpose is due to another hormone called prolactin.

Prolactin is a hormone with reproductive, metabolic and immunoregulatory functions. It is needed in small amounts but an excess of estrogen in the body can lead to high levels.

Prolactin tends to counteract testosterone in the body, thus reducing sexual interest. In fact, a common side effect of drugs that stimulate prolactin function is impotence in men and low libido for women.

Increased dopamine from the L-dopa found in a high quality mucuna pruriens extract reduces excessive prolactin and increases testosterone in the body. Many women and men quickly notice an increase in sexual desire and performance when taking mucuna from this hormonal shift.

Some men have even reported a significant decrease in the refractory period after making love when the herb is taken a few hours before. This isn’t surprising considering prolactin is heavily involved in that drowsy feeling that makes men want to go to sleep after sex.

Mucuna, HGH and Muscle Mass

By increasing dopamine levels in your body, mucuna may help increase lean muscle mass by stimulating human growth hormone production. Dopamine has been shown to increase HGH levels within the body and human growth hormone is known to increase protein synthesis and help stimulate muscle growth.

While it’s unlikely that just taking a mucuna pruriens capsule and sitting on the couch watching TV will build muscles, human growth hormone is a very beneficial substance to have a little more of in your body. Known as the anti-aging hormone, HGH also enhances fat burning, elevates sexual performance, improves skin tone and texture and has many other positive benefits for your health.

The older we get, the less human growth hormone we produce naturally. Supplementing with a high potency mucuna pruriens extract, especially if you regularly drink coffee, smoke or eat a lot of sugary foods, may start to help restore depleted HGH levels through elevated dopamine.

We often feel compelled to have caffeine, nicotine or other stimulants because of low dopamine levels, which, in a vicious circle, tend to lead to lower and lower dopamine over time. Ideally, by gently increasing dopamine with mucuna, it should be possible to reduce the compulsion for stimulants and make it easier to let go of cigarettes, excessive caffeine or addiction to sugary foods.

Better Sleep with Velvet Bean

Dopamine plays an important role in the brain processes that lead to falling asleep and the REM stage of sleep associated with dreaming.

Animal studies have shown that severely reducing dopamine levels in the brain leads to an inability to sleep. It makes sense that even a mild reduction in dopamine and the associated tension and restlessness would be likely to result in trouble sleeping.

Benefits of MucunaMany people who take velvet bean extract report an improvement in their ability to get to sleep. It’s also common to experience more vivid dreams as a positive side effect of mucuna supplementation.

Elevating dopamine levels too high though may well have the opposite effect so it’s important to start off at a low dosage. Having the herb well before sleep rather than right before bed would also be likely to be more effective.

Side Effects of Mucuna Pruriens

While it is generally considered safe and has helped many people with low dopamine levels, there are some mucuna pruriens precautions and side effects to be aware of.

  • People suffering from schizophrenia, manic-depression and other mental illnesses characterized by highly fluctuating levels of dopamine should avoid mucuna pruriens. It’s best to consult a specialist before using it if you have experienced any mental health issues previously.
  • While mucuna may have potential in treating depression and Parkinson’s disease its use should be supervised by a knowledgeable health care professional.
  • Due to its ability to reduce prolactin, needed for reproductive function and lactation, velvet bean extracts are not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • The L-dopa in mucuna pruriens can be used by the body to make melanin. This in itself is not harmful but there are some recommendations that people who have had melanoma or at high risk of skin cancer should avoid increasing L-dopa too high.
  • Due to the L-dopa in mucuna it is not recommended to be taken with MAO inhibitors or levodopa medications for Parkinson’s disease.
  • There’s some evidence that mucuna benefits include lowering blood sugar levels and taking it may help prevent diabetes. Those already taking diabetes medication or on prescription medicines for heart disease or low blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking mucuna pruriens.

Mucuna Dosage, Timing and Best Price

While it is considered much safer than taking isolated L-dopa, mucuna pruriens can be potent and it’s best to start off at a low dosage so you can monitor your results for the first few days.

After that time you can slowly increasing the dose if needed. Definitely don’t take a large dose on your first time taking the herb as some people can be sensitive to its effects.

Start off slow and never exceed the recommended dosage. It will last much longer and be likely to work more effectively used in small regular doses, rather than occasionally taken in excess.

Mucuna Capsules

Mucuna pruriens is usually sold in capsules. A good mucuna supplement should indicate that it is made from the seeds found inside the pod, rather than the leaves or root and show its concentration of L-dopa.

It’s better to take mucuna on an empty stomach before food or other supplements as protein and vitamin B6 in particular can interfere with its absorption.

If it is being taken to improve your mental state and mood during the day, then one capsule would be taken before breakfast with a large glass of water.

If you’re using the herb primarily to increase libido, it could be taken in the evening, several hours after any food you had in the afternoon and ideally an hour or more before dinner.

After several days of using mucuna pruriens with positive results, you could try taking a capsule in both the morning and early evening. It’s much better though to start off with just one at the beginning, whether in the morning or evening, and notice how it makes you feel over the initial few days.

These capsules have a high concentration of L-dopa and many positive reviews. Taken following the directions above, a bottle should last you for at least a couple of months. They are also available with $4 international delivery and a $10 checkout discount for first purchases.

Organic Powder

For people who prefer to use the whole powdered herb rather than extracts, I like this organic kapikachhu powder used by some Ayurvedic practitioners. It can be mixed directly in water for a more immediate effect or added to a smoothie without protein powder.

Taking mucuna in this way tends to slow down the rate at which its L-dopa is absorbed and may be a good way for sensitive individuals to have the herb. You still get all the mucuna pruriens benefits. The effects are just less pronounced and perhaps more long-lasting because of it.

Dosage for mucuna pruriens powder is generally one or two teaspoons as it is not as concentrated as the capsule extracts. Once again, it’s best to start off slow, perhaps with just half a teaspoon for the first few days and build your way up to the higher doses, half a teaspoon at a time, over a few weeks.

Cycling

As with any herbal product with strong physiological effects, it’s recommended to take regular breaks to avoid both tolerance and potential dependence. A commonly recommended cycle for taking mucuna pruriens is five days on and two days off.

Using this cycle, some people take it just on weekdays to help them handle the pressures of their work day effectively and take a break from it on the weekends when they are generally more relaxed anyway.

Some resources also recommend taking a full week off from using velvet bean extract every month or two so your body doesn’t develop too much of a tolerance to the L-dopa in it.

Main Mucuna Pruriens Benefits in Summary

  • One of the best food sources of the amino acid L-dopa, a direct precursor to the hormone dopamine.
  • Through raising low dopamine levels, mucuna pruriens can have a positive effect on motivation, attention, mood, relaxation, libido, sleep and many other areas.
  • Mucuna extract helps reduce excessive prolactin and increases testosterone in the body. Many women and men notice an increase in sexual desire and performance when taking the herb due to higher testosterone levels.
  • Raising dopamine with mucuna pruriens also helps stimulate human growth hormone production for enhanced muscle growth, fat burning and anti-aging effects.

Have you tried using mucuna pruriens powder or capsules before? I use organic powder first thing in the morning and find it gently increases my concentration levels and seems to provide a general sense of well being.

While others have reported more dramatic effects in some of the reviews, the best way I could describe it is that it seems much harder to have a bad day when taking mucuna.

I’d be interested to hear your experiences with it, how taking it made you feel and what you personally found the benefits of mucuna pruriens to be.

Photo 1: Ton Rulkens / Photo 2: Dinesh Valke / Photo 3: Phuong Tran / Photo 4: Phuong Tran#

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 53 comments
Alan Santana

I’ve been using Mucuna Pruriens (Kapikachhu) for almost 3 months now and the results are astonishing. I read about the benefits it has on muscle gain but didn’t quite follow it at the beginning. Few weeks into it a friend made a comment about my looks and only then I realized I was gaining muscle mass without even exercising, I realized that the recent addition of Mucuna to my diet was the hero.

Now I have it on my kitchen stand and use it periodically. Never for too long. I always go on and off for every superfood, food, herbs, etc. just to make sure that it keeps doesn’t good completely used to it and stop getting the benefits.

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Alan and thanks for your comments. Good to hear Mucuna Pruriens is working so well for you. The testosterone boost is definitely something men will appreciate and can be beneficial for women too.

    I agree with cycling Mucuna as per the end of the article to maintain the benefits.

    All the best.

    Reply
Yogi

Where can I purchase the herb? Any herbal store or do I have to purchase online?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    I’d suggest http://iherb.com They deliver worldwide for $4 and there’s $5 – $10 off your first purchase with the code DIL799

    Hope this helps.

    Reply
      Theresa Mago

      Thanks, Jim.
      I just ordered Ojio, Ayurvedic Herbs, Mucuna Pruriens Powder from iherbs.com. This appeared just in time. I am almost 53 and need more energy to keep up with my highly active job and all these changes menopause is trying to bring on me.

      Reply
        Jim Dillan

        Hi Theresa,

        I hope Mucuna works as well for you as it does for me. The effects are subtle but it’s still one of my favorite herbs.

        All the best,

        Jim

        Reply
rae

I am wondering if the increase in testosterone will cause facial hair growth in post menopausal women. Any data or feedback on that?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Rae,

    I haven’t read of this being a side effect with mucuna. The herb works by counteracting excessive prolactin caused by too much estrogen. This allows your natural testosterone levels to be restored rather than any strong androgenic effect that might cause extra hair growth.

    Hope this helps

    Reply
Jen

I’ve been taking Mucuna for a few weeks now. Find it just gives me a little extra energy and positivity in the morning 🙂

Reply
Leonard

Is it right to assume that “low sexual desire” could mean “low dopamine levels”?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Leonard,

    There can be many reasons for this but low dopamine could certainly be one. Mucuna is often recommended as beneficial for low sexual desire.

    Hope this helps,

    Jim

    Reply
Ade

Is there anything like this, that those diagnosed with schizophrenia can use safely?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Ade and thanks for your comments.

    Unfortunately I can’t advise in conditions such as schizophrenia as you really need to see a knowledgeable health care professional. I have read that it’s not advised to use dopamine precursors in these situations.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Esther

sir,i want to know if mucuna can make one pregnant

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Esther,

    Mucuna may improve male fertility and possibly libido for both sexes, though there’s no specific evidence I’ve read of it being known to increase pregnancy chances.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Leo

Hi-

I just got the Source Naturals brand and am taking for a weight lifting supp (muscle mass, test, better sleep). First 2 days I took one first thing in the morn with some green tea 45 mins before my pre workout and did not notice anything. Now I am taking 2 in the morn and 1 late afternoon. Still not sure of any effects but it is pretty early on. I am not expecting or anticipating a buzz or anything but I do want to make sure it is effecting me for the reasons I am taking it. Should I keep going 5 days on 2 off for a couple weeks with the 2 am 1 pm?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Leo,

    5 days on 2 days off sounds fine. Mucuna effects tend to be subtle but usually there is an increased sense of wellbeing when it is working for you. Taking it too late in the day may affect sleep for some people. It’s also best to take it away from protein meals or shakes which may interfere with absorption. First thing in the morning with a big glass of water works best for me personally.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
User

Hi,

I tried Mucuna for few days and results were really good in terms of how i feel. I stopped talking it because i released i have hair loss.

Can you suggest if this may be due to Mucuna and additionally advice if Macuna can help in treating ED?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi there,

    Mucuna can increase testosterone production and if this converts to DHT it may have a small contributing effect. At normal doses this would not be expected to be a primary cause of hair loss.

    Mucuna may help with ED in the same way but once again it’s effects are more balancing than dramatic.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
wen

Thinking about ordering this. Is it okay to take this in the morning with caffeine and orange juice and fiber drink?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi there,

    Yes mucuna works in a different way to caffeine, though you might not need as much when taking it.

    Hope this helps,

    Jim

    Reply
Leonard

Hi Jim,

Is mucuna pruriens advisable for the ladies young and old at home?

Reply
Ruth

I have parkinsons I take it for the ldopa content 2 capsules 400 mg each in the morning and afternoon I know that protein intefear with absorption .shall I take with or without food

Reply
Roger Dmeshink

I suppose i am suffering from Pre Ejaculation during sex with my partner. Does this herb will benefit me and increase time and stamina. My age is 30years and What possible harms can be there if used 2-3 doses a day.

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi there,

    Mucuna is known to benefit testosterone levels if this is low. However premature ejactulation may have other causes. I’d investigate kava and other herbal remedies that balance out the parasympathetic nerve function.

    It’s best to keep to the suggested dosage in the article as more isn’t necessarily better with mucuna.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Robson Chamberlin

I am a 76 year old male and have been taking Dopa Mucuna 120 mg capsules (“Now Foods”) for Parkinsons for two weeks. The manufacturers dosage recommendation is two capsules early in the day with food. I started off by taking one cap for a few days. I have now been taking 2 caps for 5 days and haven’t noticed any sign at all of an improvement in my condition; which was diagnosed incidentally in July of this year. My doctor wants to put me on Sinimet, but I really want to see if I can avoid all the harsh side affects of Siniment by using a natural substance. So far I have had no success and it is a bit worrying because my condition seems to be worsening by the day. Do you have any advise about the dosage or product I am using. I would greastly appreciate your input.

Thanks
Rob

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Robson and sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

    This page http://www.drugs.com/dosage/levodopa.html suggests that a higher dosage is used for Parkinsons looking at the “Initial” dosage (the Maintainance may be an error and I wouldn’t recommend taking this much without discussing it with your doctor).

    Perhaps you could try the 500 mg dosage divided into two doses as per that page and monitor your results carefully.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Ilkka

What about taking Mucuna as complementary with Parkinson medicin Madopark? Has somebody any experience or opinion?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi there,

    You’d have to check with your doctor. Generally it’s best to take natural treatments well away from pharmaceuticals.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Greg.z

Hello !:) tyou for this page about this passionate herb, I just wanted to say just I think I am too much sensitive about l-dopa , for exemple, just 3 gels of mucuna make me feel agitated and then I can not sleep all night long or almost… I’m ashamed of it, do u think I’ve just to take one pill of mucuna first? I need it for my focus, cause I’ve t.d.a.h symptom with low dopamine/focus .. Tyou!

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Greg,

    As mentioned in the article, mucuna isn’t for everyone so I’d check with your doctor before using it. If you are getting results like this it sounds like you’re taking too much. I only use one capsule personally.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
H.M.

DHEA and Mucuna stacked, your thoughts?

I was stacking the 2 a few years back and noticed a huge amount of strength and muscle definition/size compared to taking them solely (on a cycle of their own).

This seems obvious, yes but I had zero change in my diet, was eating poorly and was dropping the BF% as If I were dieting.

Now I’m cycling back on (both MP & DHEA) after a 2 year hiatus while having my diet in check. Should be good.

I’d just like to hear your ideas on this. Thanks for your time,
H.M.

Reply
vincent

Hi Jim.
my wife and i have been taking Mucuna Pruriens herb for about 5 days now. please will work for me. our intention is to increase my libido and the chance for my wife to conceive.

Reply
Sam

Would it interact with High BP medication

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Sam,

    In the side effects section of the article it notes that people on medicine for low blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking mucuna pruriens. Given this it seems unlikely to be a problem for high blood pressure but it’s still a good idea to check with your doctor first.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
innocent

Please may I know how you prepare inorganic mucuna powder

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi there,

    I wouldn’t be a good source for that sorry. Apparently the mucuna plant has a spiky outside that should be avoided.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Kumar

I m 29 years old. I have very less beard. Will Mucuna help in facial hair growth?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Kumar,

    Facial hair is dependant largely on dihydrotestosterone levels. Increasing testosterone, which mucuna may help with, is the precursor hormone but researching increasing DHT will help even more.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Jeremy

Can I combine Macuna and Suma root , both have similar properties?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Jeremy,

    There’s no reason not to but, as they are similar, you may get more benefit from alternating the two every second day, having Mucuna on Monday, Suma on Tuesday and so on. Or possibly Mucuna one week and Suma the next then back to Mucuna. Lately I’ve been experimenting with alternating superfood powders like this and feel they’re a bit more potent this way as your body doesn’t adjust to them when alternated. Then again if you’re not having them every day and just want the most potency when you do have them they should be fine to have together at the recommended dosage.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Rod

I read on another site that Vitamin B6 is often stacked with L-Dopa supplements for increased conversion efficiency. I’ve also read that it is best to take MP with food. Your post stated that B6 inhibits absorption of MP and it is best to take on an empty stomach. Please, some clarification on this? Also, most sources have 15-25% LDopa but some have up to 95%. Any tips on if you feel higher % is better? Thanks very much, your post is very thorough and appreciated.

Reply
dejan

can i take mucuna in the morning and shatavari in the evening?

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Dejan,

    Mucuna is best in the morning on an empty stomach. Shatavari should be fine in the evening if that works for you.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply
Tisha

I have high prolactin levels due to a pituitary adenoma. I have been taking Mucuna, along with some other suppliments. This has enabled me to begin to reclaim my life. The pharmaceutical options were unacceptable for me. I began with an 800 mg dose with 15% L-Dopa and wonder if it’s too high. I’m uncomfortable reducing it at this point, as I am living life more fully than I have for a while, and don’t want to upset the apple cart. I appreciate the info in this article, I have learned to not take it with my B6, as well as not take it with my breakfast protein. Oops. Thank you so much for this info!

I appreciate any feedback.

Reply
    Jim Dillan

    Hi Tisha,

    Monitor your results and consult a healthcare professional if in doubt but this dose, while reasonably high, is reported useful for some people and I’m glad to hear it’s helping for you.

    All the best,

    Jim

    Reply

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