A nootropic, natural anti-depressant, essential for mental health
View mucuna superfood products: Mucuna Potent Plant Powder
WHAT IS MUCUNA AND WHAT MAKES IT A SUPERFOOD?
MUCUNA PRURIENS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE VELVET BEAN, IS AN ANCIENT AYURVEDIC PULSE, WHICH GAINED MORE POPULARITY AMONG WESTERNERS FOR ITS POTENT NOOTROPIC COMPOUNDS WHICH ALLEVIATES OUR MENTAL STATE AS WELL AS TREATS REPRODUCTIVE AND SEXUAL HEALTH.
This mood-elevating pulse has been used in Ayurveda therapeutic treatments (which is an ancient traditional medical science) to treat depression, nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s, neurodegeneration, low sex drive and male infertility. It contains bioactive tryptamines, including serotonin and 5-HTP, and is most known for containing a very powerful neurotransmitter precursor called L-dopa. L-dopa is an essential amino acid that converts into our happy hormone: dopamine.
Dopamine, known as the ‘motivation molecule’, is a hormone that regulates our levels of happiness. It is part of the brain’s pleasure and reward system and is responsible for relaying messages between our nerve cells. Dopamine is easily depleted by stress, stimulants and alcohol. Mucuna is a great source of dopamine production and can therefore be used therapeutically for its medicinal properties, or as a supplement during high-stress circumstances and to combat the consequences of excessive alcohol use. It can also be used as a daily supplement to alleviate mental drag and support mental health. As a food source, it is rich in crude protein, essential fatty acids, starch, and certain essential amino acids.
The powder has a mild, white bean flavour and is best masked in recipes as the taste is not the most pleasant. It goes best in hot drinks because the heat is needed to release more of the L-dopa.
Some of mucuna’s health benefits include:
- improves sleep
- neuroprotective – enhances
- cognition and memory
- mood-boosting and
- antidepressant properties –
- improves mood and motivatio
- high in nootropic compound L-dopa – boosts dopamine production and assists brain function relating to memory, cognition and happiness
- stimulates libido and testosterone production
- anti-diabetic effects
- boosts antioxidant activity
Always check with your healthcare practitioner before using medicinal foods/superfoods such as mucuna during pregnancy or on prescribed medication
HEALTH BENEFITS & NUTRITIONAL POTENCY OF MUCUNA
Let’s look at how mucuna works & what it does for the body.
Mucuna pruriens as a supplement has noticeable effects on the nervous system. Traditional, as well as scientific evidence, suggests that an active compound in the bean called L-dopa has the potential to:
- increase focus and improve memory
- reduce stress and anxiety
- naturally stimulate the production of more dopamine
- enhance libido
- strengthen the reproductive system in both men and women
- support blood sugar levels
- soothe the digestive system
Stimulates the libido and enhances testosterone production: Infertile or impotent men who have trouble with testosterone levels may have underlying issues with dopamine, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. A study conducted on 75 infertile men with low and immobile sperm counts showed much-improved levels of serum testosterone, dopamine, luteinizing hormone, and lower levels of follicle-stimulating hormone after supplementation with mucuna, which leads to better testosterone levels and enhanced male fertility. Research also suggests that mucuna increases sperm count, testicle weight, the size of seminal vesicles and the prostate, and the development of other reproductive organs. As such, it promotes improved sexual function in both men and women.
Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant: Mucuna has gained much attention in the western world for combating anxiety and depression, as it is an excellent source of L-dopa and 5-hydroxy tryptophan (5-HTP), both of which are said to calm feelings of anxiousness.
Stimulates your happy hormones: The bioactive tryptamines, including dopamine and serotonin (your happy hormones), 5-HTP, and high amounts of the powerful neurotransmitter, L-dopa all work together to enhance and regulate your state of happiness. Dopamine is often lacking in depressed individuals, causing a lack of motivation and sadness. Using mucuna regularly may help the body naturally to produce more dopamine, covering the deficiencies which may help you feel more motivated, eat better, and even have an enhanced sex drive.
The amino acid L-dopa is vital for your happy hormone production, as it converts into dopamine. The body needs L-dopa to make dopamine, the “chemical messenger” which our nerve cells need for relaying messages from one to the other.
HOW TO USE MUCUNA
The taste of mucuna is somewhat bland, as one can expect from a bean. Having said that the medicinal benefits are far from bland or uninspiring! Since mucuna is essentially a legume, which often contains trypsin inhibitors that can reduce its protein absorption, it helps to heat the powder to improve its digestibility.
By using mucuna powder in hot chocolate, hot drinks or baking these inhibitors will be reduced. It also appears that L-dopa is not destroyed through heating of it in this way, so you’re still getting all the mood-elevating potency this super bean has to offer.
Try adding it to lattes, coffee, tea, tonics, and baking. It pairs well with ashwagandha, cacao, and maca to make powerful, adaptogenic, mood-enhancing combinations.
You can also customise the following hot drink options to your own liking… For flavour, use 1 tsp maca or mesquite or chocolate or carob, plus your mucuna dose, a touch of cinnamon or vanilla or nutmeg and a little salt. Spoon these dry ingredients directly into your mug. Stir in some coconut oil (will need to melt a bit first if it’s too hard – hold it in a metal spoon over the hot plate to save time and dishes) and liquid sweetener to make a paste. Keep stirring while pouring hot water in to fill your mug. That’s the “no blender” option – you could also do that all in a blender.
- Maintenance: Use 1 – 2 teaspoons (5-10ml) at least once daily for a powerful nutritional boost.
- Therapeutic use: Up to 3 tablespoons (15ml) daily (or as advised by a healthcare professional)
Tip: Mucuna is better digested when heated and its anti-depressant properties are enhanced when used with raw cacao. Beautiful synergies exist when combining raw cacao and mucuna for mental support.
MORE INSIGHTS & SCIENCE ON MUCUNA’S HEALTH BENEFITS
As far-fetched as it might sound, happiness can grow on a tree… think “Mucuna Matata, it means no worries”. This potent medicinal plant is an effective, natural botanical mood enhancer.
Mucuna pruriens is the Latin name for a creeping vine that grows all over India—particularly in the tropics. It is well known by two Sanskrit names, Kapikacchu and Atmagupta, which means “secret self,” and hints at the therapeutic value of the seed concealed within the velvety seedpod.
It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over two thousand years to help with various neurological issues, including anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and even female and male infertility. In Traditional Chinese Medicine that healers have used it for centuries to treat the nervous system.
Mucuna contains significant amounts of dopamine, which works as one of the best natural HGH (human growth hormone) enhancers, by stimulating the pituitary gland to increase its production. Consistently high levels of this natural growth hormone throughout life are known to be a major key for human longevity.
Dopamine also increases other youth-enhancing hormones such as testosterone.
Rather than throwing the endocrine system out of balance, these hormonal increases simply improve hormone levels which tend to decrease over time in the average person. The effects of these increased hormone levels explain dopamine’s association with improving libido, fertility and lean muscle mass, as well as reducing signs of ageing such as wrinkles and body fat, increasing bone density and even boosting overall energy levels. Animal studies have shown powerful results such as a ten-fold increase in mounting frequency by male rats! Also, a decrease in post-ejaculatory intervals has been observed.
The anti-snake venom effect of mucuna pruriens extract makes it a great tonic herb for outdoor enthusiasts to take daily. A variety of toxins from snake venom have been found to be reduced or prevented by the supplementation of this herb.
RESEARCH & FURTHER READING
30 Abstracts with Mucuna pruriens – greenmedinfo.com/substance/mucuna-pruriens-aka-velvet-beans