Mucuna pruriens, also known as 'velvet bean', is highly valued in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for its restorative, energizing nature and affinity for the nervous system. Chinese herbalism describes mucuna as a 'jing' tonic that builds up the primordial energy stored in our kidneys, while Ayurveda similarly classifies mucuna as 'rasayana', a substance that tonifies and nourishes vital life energy. In addition to fortifying the kidney-adrenal complex and reproductive system, mucuna is a well known nervine tonic and one of the most concentrated natural sources of the amino acid L-DOPA, a precursor to the mood-uplifting neurotransmitter dopamine.
For most people, mucuna provides an almost immediate boost to motivation, energy, focus and mood by regulating levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and serotonin in the brain. The L-DOPA in mucuna pruriens is highly bioavailable once it enters the body - unlike dopamine itself, L-DOPA can effectively cross the blood brain barrier, where it is quickly converted into dopamine. Adequate levels of dopamine are essential for emotional wellbeing as this neurotransmitter plays a key role in the brain's reward response, stress response and the reinforcement of behavior. Dopamine is depleted by stress as well as excessive stimulants, drugs and alcohol, which is one reason why chronic stress and overuse of these substances can lead to depressive states of mind.
Dopamine is also necessary for basic nerve functioning, motor control, and speech, which are gradually lost in Parkinson's as levels of dopamine decline. Mucuna has been used in India for generations to treat symptoms of Parkinson's, and human studies have found it to be comparable to pharmaceutical treatment in alleviating these symptoms.
Adaptogenic and Neuroprotective Effects
Mucuna buffers the effects of stress by reducing the body's production of cortisol. Its high L-DOPA content also facilitates neurotrophic factors that support the growth, survival and development of neurons in the brain and central nervous system.
Note: The mucuna pruriens in Dharana Focus & Energy Brain Food is standardized to contain a minimum of 10% L-DOPA, although testing typically indicates L-DOPA content of approximately 15%.