Mucuna Pruriens Cowhage, more commonly known as velvet bean extract, has long been used within Ayurvedic medicine. Some sources report that this natural medicinal agent has been used throughout India since 1500-1000 BCE. Most commonly used to treat male infertility, nervous disorders, and a lack of libido, it offers numerous benefits.
Currently, velvet bean extract is used to boost mood, enhance sexual drive, and improve concentration levels. It is often taken within the athletic community, aiding in weight loss, the building of lean muscle mass, and enhanced energy levels. It’s also been said to have neuroprotective, antioxidant, antidiabetic, and anti-Parkinson’s properties.
These medicinal effects are based on velvet bean extract’s high concentration of L-dopa in the seeds of this plant. Since this is a precursor to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is known to be a feel good hormone. Being used by both eastern and western doctors, L-dopa is a treatment for Parkinson’s. Research suggests that natural L-dopa is more effective than the synthetic version, yielding fewer side effects.
Velvet Bean Extract Info
Traditionally, velvet bean extract was used to support positive vitality and treat nervous disorders. It was also used to eliminate parasites and treat snake bites. As mentioned, it has also long been crushed into a powder and used for symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.
The seeds in the pod of velvet bean extract contain 3.6-4.3 percent L-dopa, which is a natural precursor to dopamine. Meaning, it helps synthesize dopamine naturally within the brain. Once it crosses the blood-brain barrier, L-dopa is converted into dopamine, increasing overall levels. This helps restore reduced levels, especially when dopamine concentrations are low due to issues converting tyrosine to L-dopa.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative condition in which the brain is no longer able to produce or properly use dopamine. Also aiding in muscle movements, a lack of dopamine often results in muscle tremors and poor coordination. Based on these effects, velvet bean extract has been shown to improve Parkinson’s symptoms across numerous studies.
Taking Velvet Bean Extract for Bodybuilding and Mood
Today, two of the most common uses of velvet bean extract include mood enhancement and bodybuilding. Bodybuilders often take this extract in order to boost energy levels, drive, and focus, allowing them to take part in a more intense workout.
When taking this supplement as a pre-workout stack, it’s believed to stimulate metabolic functioning by increasing dopamine levels. This extract is also known to increase lean muscle mass and reduce body fat. In most cases, however, the core focus has been on L-dopa in terms of effective weight loss as opposed to velvet bean extract.
When individuals exhibit low levels of energy, poor mood, and brain fog, this supplement has also been shown to produce positive effects. In terms of nootropic effects, velvet bean extract can also increase concentration levels and heighten alertness. Although velvet bean extract can temporarily raise dopamine levels short-term, long-term use may result in a tolerance forming.
Using Velvet Bean Extract for Symptoms of Diabetes
When tested, velvet bean extract has produced antidiabetic effects. It can reduce spikes in blood glucose levels for up to eight hours after a meal has been consumed. Once again, the efficacy of this effect will diminish over time.
Seven different doses have been tested, ranging from 5mg/kg and 100mg/kg of bodyweight. Results show a decrease in blood glucose levels, ranging from 18.6 percent to 55.4 percent. Supplementing with velvet bean extract long-term, seems to be more effective at reducing blood sugar fluctuations than short-term use.
This is especially true regarding symptoms of type 2 diabetes, as this supplement increases overall control. When symptoms of diabetes are better managed, individuals significantly reduce their risk of complications. When blood sugar levels spike often, this increases one’s risk of serious future complications, such as nerve damage, cardiovascular problems, and diminishing vision health.
When studied in rodents, doses of 5mg/kg of bodyweight were given over the course of twelve weeks. The results showed a decrease in blood glucose spikes by 55.3 percent following a meal. After just one week, there was already an 18.6 percent decrease. Within this study, diabetes was not a prerequisite, as these effects were also displayed in rats with normal health.
The Antioxidant Properties of Velvet Bean Extract
Velvet bean extract yields strong antioxidant effects. Since free radicals are generated in the body based on a number of factors and sources, these can cause significant damage to one’s health. As free radicals continue to be synthesized, individuals are at an increased risk for premature aging and negative health effects.
Numerous phytonutrients found within velvet bean extract are known to slow down oxidative damage. Phenolic acids, polyphenols, and flavonoids within velvet bean extract all play a role in reducing free radicals, such as hydro-peroxide and lipid peroxyl. Taking velvet bean extract can reduce overall damage, enhance positive health, and improve the look and feel of your skin.
Since skin is the largest organ, it is exposed to numerous agents which constantly attack it. These include UV radiation, smog, tobacco smoke, ozone, and more. All of these attacks promote oxidative stress, leading to various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. While focusing on these skin disorders, velvet bean extract is highly promising.
Velvet Bean Offers Antivenom Properties
For thousands of years, velvet bean extract has been used when individuals suffer from a snake bite. Since snake bites often require specialized treatment, an antivenom is generally needed. Research has confirmed that the compounds in this extract, help to protect individuals against the effects of certain snake bites. These effects are triggered by specific chemicals, such as cytotoxins, cardiotoxins, and proteases.
Overall, velvet bean extract is a wholesome food source, offering medicinal properties and protein. It’s a source of numerous critical nutrients and is also a natural precursor to dopamine. When studied more closely, it’s been found that this supplement offers antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. When taken as recommended, it is generally viewed as safe and well-tolerated.