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Additional recommended knowledge
The plant is an annual, climbing shrub with long vines that can reach over 15 m. It bears white, lavender, or purple flowers and pods that are covered in loose orange hairs which cause a severe itch if they come in contact with skin. The seed are shiny black or brown sea beans. It is found in tropical Africa, India and the Caribbean.
One hundred Mucuna pruriens seeds weigh between 55-85g.
Mucuna pruriens seeds contain high concentrations of levodopa, a direct precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for diseases including Parkinson's Disease. In large amounts (e.g. 30g dose) it has been shown to be as effective as as pure levodopa/carbidopa in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, but no data on long-term efficacy and tolerability is available.
In addition to levodopa, Mucuna also contains 5-HTP, nicotine, N,N-DMT, bufotenine, and 5-MeO-DMT. As such, it would presumably have psychedelic effects, and it has purportedly been used in ayahuasca preparations.
The mature seeds of the plant contain about 3.1-6.1% L-DOPA, also bufotenine, DMT, DMT-n-oxide, 5-MeO-DMT-n-oxide, 6-methoxyharman, beta-carboline, nicotine and 5-hydroxytryptamine. The leaves contain about 0.5% L-DOPA, 0.006% dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 0.0025% 5-MeO-DMT and 0.003% DMT n-oxide.
In history, M. pruriens has been used as an aphrodisiac (hence the species name, pruriens, i.e., prurience/prurient). It is still used to increase libido in both men and women due to its dopamine inducing properties. Dopamine has a profound influence on sexual function.
The hairs lining the seed pods contain 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) which causes severe itching (erythema). Mucuna pruriens is a common ingredient in itching powder. In Africa these hairs are used to murder people by sprinkling them on to the food of the unsuspeting victim, who would then die from internal bleeding as the sharp hairs slice into the stomach and the intestinal lining.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mucuna_pruriens". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|