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Mucuna pruriens

Mucuna pruriens

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Phaseoleae
Genus: Mucuna
Species: M. pruriens
Binomial name
Mucuna pruriens
(L.) DC.

Mucuna pruriens (syn. Dolichos pruriens) is a tropical legume known by a multitude of common names (see below).


Common names

  • velvet bean
  • cowitch
  • cowhage
  • kapikachu
  • yerepe (Yoruba)
  • atmagupta


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.[1]


  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.[2][3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

The mature seeds of the plant contain about 3.1-6.1% L-DOPA,[6] also bufotenine, DMT, DMT-n-oxide, 5-MeO-DMT-n-oxide, 6-methoxyharman, beta-carboline, nicotine and 5-hydroxytryptamine.[7] The leaves contain about 0.5% L-DOPA, 0.006% dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 0.0025% 5-MeO-DMT and 0.003% DMT n-oxide.[8]



In history, M. pruriens has been used as an aphrodisiac[9] (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.[10][11]

The hairs lining the seed pods contain 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) which causes severe itching (erythema).[6][12] Mucuna pruriens is a common ingredient in itching powder.[13] 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.[citation needed]



  • Mucuna pruriens var. hirsuta[14]
  • Mucuna pruriens var. pruriens is the stinging variety.[15]
  • Mucuna pruriens var. sericophylla[14]
  • Mucuna pruriens var. utilis is the non-stinging variety grown in Honduras.[16]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Manyam BV, Dhanasekaran M, Hare TA. Effect of antiparkinson drug HP-200 (Mucuna pruriens) on the central monoaminergic neurotransmitters. 2004. Phytother Res 18:97-101. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1407 PMID 15022157
  3. ^ Manyam BV, Dhanasekaran M, Hare TA. Neuroprotective effects of the antiparkinson drug Mucuna pruriens. 2004. Phytother Res 18:706-712. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1514 PMID 15478206
  4. ^ Katzenschlager R, Evans A, Manson A, et al. Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson's disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study. 2004. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75:1672-1677. DOI: 10.1136/jnnp.2003.028761 PMID 15548480 free full text
  5. ^ Erowid entry(2002), [1]
  6. ^ a b Toxicology By Richard C. Dart
  7. ^ Chemicals in: Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC., Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
  8. ^ Chemical Compounds Found in "Mucuna Puriens"
  9. ^ Amin KMY, Khan MN, Zillur-Rehman S, et al. (1996) "Sexual function improving effect of Mucuna pruriens in sexually normal male rats". Fitoterapia, jrg.67 (nr.1): pp. 53-58. Quote: The seeds of M. pruriens are widely used for treating male sexual dysfunction in Tibb-e-Unani (Unani Medicine), the traditional system of medicine of Indo-Pakistan sub-continent.
  10. ^ Giuliano F, Allard J. Dopamine and male sexual function. 2001. Eur Urol 40:601-608. PMID 11805404
  11. ^ Giuliano F, Allard J. Dopamine and sexual function. 2001. Int J Impot Res 13 Suppl 3:S18-S28. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3900719 PMID 11477488 free full text
  12. ^ [ YERRA RAJESHWAR, MALAYA GUPTA and UPAL KANTI MAZUMDER, "In Vitro Lipid Peroxidation and Antimicrobial Activity of Mucuna pruriens Seeds," 1735-2657/05/41-32-35 IRANIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACOLOGY & THERAPEUTICS Copyright © 2005 by Razi Institute for Drug Research (RIDR) IJPT 4:32-35, 2005] ]
  13. ^ G. V. Joglekar, M. B. Bhide J. H. Balwani. An experimental method for screening antipruritic agents. British Journal of Dermatology. Volume 75 Issue 3 Page 117 - March 1963
  14. ^ a b USDA GRIN
  15. ^ Picapica
  16. ^ [2]
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.
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