L-DOPA (from Mucuna pruriens)
Mucuna pruriens, sometimes known as cowhage, is a legume native to tropical areas of India, the Caribbean, and Africa. It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, and has maintained its popularity to modern times.
Mucuna pruriens’ biggest benefit for the human mind and body is its high levels of L-DOPA, or levodopa, which is a precursor to dopamine, one of your brain’s most important chemicals. Mucuna pruriens was even shown to increase the amount of dopamine that was circulated through the brain in healthy male participants. Keep in mind, Parkinson’s disease is often cited as being related to low dopamine levels.
Mucuna pruriens is believed by some to be a more natural alternative to the brand-name drug known as Levodopa, which also delivers L-DOPA to the brain. For those who are not prescribed Levodopa for treatment of Parkinson’s or a similar condition, Mucuna pruriens may be an alternative way of increasing L-DOPA levels.
For instance, there is support that Levodopa can have harmful effects on DNA because it creates an excess of copper ions in the brain; Mucuna pruriens, on the other hand, actually reduces damage from copper ions. One study also revealed that Mucuna pruriens is less likely to cause dyskinesia than Levodopa. Dyskinesia is a condition marked by erratic, involuntary movement, similar to Parkinson’s. Though healthy users needn’t really worry about developing dyskinesia as a result of using Levodopa, it can be a concern for people with certain conditions or illnesses.
Multiple studies have shown that Mucuna pruriens might be effective at reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s. Both trials on rats and on humans have provided support of Mucuna pruriens’ ability to reduce the loss of motor control and other symptoms of Parkinson’s, and have shown that high dosages of Mucuna pruriens is as effective as standard dosages of Levodopa.[6,7] Furthermore, Mucuna pruriens, in at least one trial, had more long-term efficacy than Levodopa.
Mucuna pruriens may also be an effective supplement for treating diabetes; in rats, Mucuna pruriens was shown to alleviate high blood glucose levels after a meal. Regular administration of Mucuna pruriens has been shown to be more effective at regulating blood glucose levels than using it only when needed, though using it only when needed has also had positive effects. It has also been shown to delay or prevent the development of cataracts in diabetic rats. However, you needn’t have diabetes in order to regulate your blood glucose levels with Mucuna pruriens; it can also help reduce high blood glucose levels in non-diabetic users.
Mucuna pruriens can also effect your serotonin and growth hormone levels, fertility, and libido. The unique mix of chemicals that are found in Mucuna pruriens makes it an effective option for increasing serotonin levels in the brain; while L-DOPA on its own cannot sustain normal serotonin levels, the chemical interactions in Mucuna pruriens allows for serotonin stabilization.
L-DOPA specifically, regardless of its source, has shown to increase levels of growth hormone, which is an important part of regulating our metabolism and muscle development.
In infertile men, Mucuna pruriens can help restore both sperm count as well as motility, potentially, increase fertility. Libido in infertile men, as well as rats, was also shown to be increased while taking Mucuna pruriens.
Supplementing your diet with L-DOPA allows you to make use of L-DOPA later on when you may need it more. Put simply, by taking L-DOPA regularly even if you don’t necessarily need it, you make it easier for your body to absorb L-DOPA when you really need it.
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