Mucuna’s use as a medicinal plant dates back thousands of years. It been used to treat a wide variety of conditions including high blood pressure, low sperm count, low libido, male infertility, diabetes, and neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease, and has been shown to have marked antioxidant activity (2).
Mucuna has marked ACE inhibiting properties, making its action similar to some pharmaceutical drugs designed to lower blood pressure (3).
There are many studies showing the positive effects of Mucuna on increasing sperm count and sperm motility (4, 5), as well as helping normalize healthy libido (6, 7) and helping treat male infertility (8, 9, 10, 11). Mucuna also has some promising research in treating erectile dysfunction in men (12).
Some of Mucuna’s most famous effects are on the dopaminergic centers of the brain. Mucuna contains 4-7% L-Dopa which is the immediate precursor to Dopamine (13). Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that helps people to feel a sense of satiety and contentment. When people feel a greater sense of contentment and connectedness, they tend to have less anxiety and can side-step stress more effectively. Mucuna has been shown in countless studies to raise dopamine levels in the brain. Parkinson’s disease is a condition where the dopamine producing centers of the brain are damaged and not enough dopamine is produced. These patients are often treated with dopamine-enhancing drugs like Levodopa, often with difficult side effects. Patients who take Mucuna, however, get the benefit of the dopamine producing effects of Mucuna but without many of the difficult side effects of these pharmaceuticals (14, 15). The L-Dopa content may also be used to help those suffering from depression (16). The L-Dopa found in mucuna can also be converted into epinephrine, helping those suffering from fatigue.
In addition to Parkinson’s disease, Mucuna has been studied for other movement disorders like Epilepsy, and initial research has shown positive benefi ts (17).
Mucuna has been shown to have anti-parasitic activity (18) as well as anti-neoplastic activities against liver cancer (19).
Additionally there have been several studies showing that Mucuna has the ability to lower blood sugar and so its use has been proposed to helping treat diabetes and insulin resistance (20, 21, 22, 23, 24).
Additionally there is minimal safety data on Pregnancy and Lactation so Mucuna is best avoided during these times.
Do not go off of your prescribed Parkinson’s drugs and replace them with Macuna. There have not been enough studies to support this. Always work with your physician to utilize their expertise.