Mucuna Pruriens Benefits & Side Effects
Mucuna Pruriens & Testosterone
If you are looking for the benefits, side effects and uses for mucuna pruriens, which is also known as Velvet Bean, you have come to the right place.
We are going to nail down the scientific research and understand exactly how this natural bean can have a positive impact on our life and if it can raise testosterone levels.
We are doing this research because while mucuna pruriens features in some testosterone booster supplements, it is really not that popular.
However, we think it is misunderstood and that it should be used more often.
This is what we shall cover….
- What is Mucuna Pruriens?
- The science – what do we know?
- Mucuna Pruriens benefits
- Mucuna Pruriens side effects
What is Mucuna Pruriens?
Let’s go back to basics on this.
Many supplements on the shelf are full of natural ingredients. They are often seen as safe and beneficial to our health.
So let’s see what mucuna pruriens is.
Mucuna pruriens is essentially a vine type plant which consists of slender stems and branches with leaves.
It belongs to the Fabaceae family and the beans are known as a good source of protein, even those this is a very under-utilized plant for food when compared to soy and the lima bean.
Considering the plant has some much nutritional benefit and that it is also very resilient to drought, acidic soil plus soil that has very little fertile benefit it is surprising that we do not hear about it so much.
That said, the bean has and is used as a food for many ethnic groups by boiling it first and the leaf is fed to animals.
The plant also consists of coarse and fine hairs, some variants of this plant can be an irritant to the touch.
What we are interested in are the beans that grow from the plant. As a result, mucuna pruriens is also commonly known as velvet bean, amongst other names.
Mucuna pruriens grows in moist tropical regions but hails from the African regions and throughout southeast Asia. 
What do we know about Mucuna Pruriens?
Mucuna pruriens has been used for centuries (up to 1000 BC!) by the ancient Indian medical system notably as an aphrodisiac, nervous disorders and to treat infertility. 
‘…It has been shown that its seeds are potentially of substantial medicinal importance…’
However, mucuna also contains some toxicity…
Studies have discovered that mucuna consists of L-dopa and also hallucinogenic tryptamines which are a family of drugs that many people use for recreational purposes.
A good example is LSD which is probably the most well known of the tryptamine family. 
Furthermore the plant is resistant to pesticides and can have a negative effect on the growth of other, competing species of plants. 
Overall, this plant seems like quite a volatile and potentially dangerous, so it seems almost at odds to be used as a food source and a medicinal treatment.
However, let’s put those doubts to rest…
Mucuna Pruriens Benefits
There’s a lots or reported benefits for velvet bean and we could be here all day discussing the merits of each along with the scientific studies.
So, let’s start of with the reason why we are here. Testosterone.
Mucuna Pruriens effects on testosterone
Strangely there are limited studies regarding the effects of mucuna pruriens and testosterone, and of the few that we can find this seems mainly to discuss infertile men.
So, initially, this may seem like a fruitless task, but there’s is something that we unearthed…
A study which involved a number of healthy men, who were infertile saw an increase in testosterone levels after three months of mucuna pruriens use. 
So, how did this happen?
The theory is that mucuna pruriens increases the levels of circulating dopamine which is a neurotransmitter. This can effect many hormonal changes.
The increase in dopamine is a result of levodopa (L-DOPA) which is one of the main components of mucuna pruriens.
What is the importance of L-DOPA?
You may have heard of dopamine before, it has a role to play in many brain functions, but probably mostly known for its role of pleasure and link to addiction.
The result of smoking is the nicotine’s ability to release more dopamine in to the brain, this higher level of dopamine in the brain then facilitates addiction. 
However, the benefit of L-DOPA and the increase of dopamine is its ability to suppress prolactin levels.
Okay, what is prolactin?
Prolactin is a hormone released by the brain which actually stimulates lactation in women after childbirth.
However, even men have an amount of prolactin. It is just that women have more prolactin than men and these levels increase when they are pregnant. 
Yet men do suffer from an increased level of the hormone, and suffering from an increased levels of prolactin can result in the following :
- Sexual dysfunction
- Decreased libido
- Breast tenderness and enlargement
- Lowering testosterone
While it is not estrogen prolactin has estrogen like effects. Many test boosters contain anti-estrogenic compounds to re-establish a healthy hormone balance.
L-DOPA and testosterone
As you can see, there’s a relationship between mucuna pruriens, L-DOPA and testosterone.
This is whereby mucuna pruriens contains L-DOPA which suppresses levels of prolactin. This works in our favor because prolactin lowers the levels of natural testosterone.
Therefore mucuna pruriens inhibits the negative effect prolactin has on testosterone levels.
Further testosterone related studies
Animal related studies in to testosterone have concluded that mucuna pruriens does increase testosterone.
Mucuna Pruriens has also demonstrated that it can increase the weight of the testis and increased not only the volume of sperm but also increased sperm mobility. 
These results are due to androgen synthesis which increase serum and testicular testosterone.
Furthermore, studies have shown that mucuna pruriens has testosterone like activity while not adversely effecting the liver or kidneys. 
When the value of androgenic activity was tested in Wister male albino rats it was established that mucuna pruriens is also able to improve the testicular cholesterol and protein levels.
This further cements the theory that mucuna pruriens does have significant androgenic properties. 
Mucuna Pruriens and male fertility
So, testosterone and sexual function goes hand in hand.
But what about male fertility? Does mucuna pruriens also have a positive impact on fertility?
We found a study which took seventy-five men who were infertile with low sperm levels and low sperm motility, in addition the subjects also showed signs of low testosterone and dopamine levels.
The results illustrated that with treatment of mucuna pruriens all of the men saw a significant increase in testosterone, dopamine as well as sperm numbers and motility. 
Additional studies in to the effects of mucuna pruriens and fertility also discovered that mucuna pruriens can also have stress inhibiting qualities.
Can mucuna pruriens reduce stress?
May be so…
Another study which was investigating the effects of mucuna pruriens and infertility stumbled across another favorable outcome.
The effects of mucuna pruriens can restore antioxidant levels, as a result, this can help improve semen quality and reduce psychological stress and cortisol levels. 
‘…resulted in general improvement in sperm count and motility but it also led to significant reduction in the level of psychological stress…’
So, mucuna pruriens promotes sperm health?
In effect, yes.
This is again due to our old friend, L-DOPA.
There are many factors which contribute to infertility in men. These include age, life style problems, poor nutritional intake, toxicity, stress and exposure to estrogens.
This is exactly where L-DOPA comes in to play.
We have already mentioned that L-DOPA is able to suppress high levels of prolactin which can cause breast tenderness, reduce libido and testosterone.
Well, L-DOPA is back fighting against estrogen properties and helping with erectile dysfunction, sperm numbers and volume.
It is though that L-DOPA has anti-stress (aptogenic) abilities that brings these results as well as .
‘…has the potential to treat compromised fertility, characterized by loss of sperm count and motility, and perhaps provide immunity against such complications…’
After the administration of mucuna pruriens studies have shown that the ability to increase hormone levels has a catalyst effect on the role of fertility. 
Again, this result was attributed to the L-DOPA of which mucuna pruriens provides a rich source.
Shall we just use a L-DOPA supplement?
It would seem that the best course of action would be to skip the mucuna pruriens and just hit a L-DOPA supplement.
However, comparative studies between L-DOPA by itself and mucuna pruriens show that L-DOPA is not as effective as mucuna pruriens due to inefficiency.
It is considered that other supporting elements contribute to the overall beneficial effect of mucuna pruriens. 
While L-DOPA does account for the majority of activity from mucuna pruriens, it is the other components that fight oxidants, its nutritional factors and its anti-stress capabilities that make it so effective.
Mucuna Pruriens and Venom
Yes, you read that correctly. Mucuna pruriens is used as an anti-venom.
The native Nigerian people have been using velvet bean to treat snakebites.
What may seem like an unlikely pairing, studies have demonstrated that rats which have been pre-treated with velvet bean were protected by the lethal venom of spitting cobra venoms.
The mucuna appears to neutralize the toxins which cause lethal effects against the cardiovascular system. 
However, all successful studies were the result of direct action of mucuna pruriens extract to the heart rather than blood vessels. 
Mucuna Pruriens and Parkinson’s Disease
Studies in to mucuna pruriens have also focused on the neuro protective attributes that could alleviate and treat sufferers of Parkinson’s. 
‘…studies showed that Mucuna pruriens treatment controls the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease…’
Once again, it is L-DOPA that appears to have the main effects with its anti-oxidative effects which are able to protect the brain from damage, however, it is the wider benefit of mucuna pruriens that offer superior treatment for Parkinson’s than L-DOPA alone… 
Mucuna Pruriens Side Effects
With all of this in mind, it would not be overly pessimistic to consider that there may be some unwanted side effects that could pose a health risk.
However, it seems that the most adverse side effects that have been reported are:
- Random penile erections
The vomiting was considered a result of the unpalatable taste and difficulty faced digesting the plant.
As a result, overall it seems there is very little toxicity or ill side effects associated with mucuna pruriens.
Mucuna Pruriens Conclusion
So far we seem to have merely scratched the surface in regards to the number of health benefits that mucuna pruriens can offer.
So far we we have established that it can improve fertility, testosterone, potentially help with venomous bites and treat Parkinson’s disease.
It seems that the source of L-DOPA found in mucuna pruriens has a hand in the majority of these beneficial study results.
However, when in trials comparing the effects of sole doses of L-DOPA and mucuna pruriens, mucuna pruriens offers greater positive effects.
It seems that the combination of multiple molecules found within mucuna pruriens improves its efficacy.
However, if you are looking to improve testosterone levels, sexual function and fertility, include mucuna pruriens in your nutrition plan.