Mucuna pruriens is a natural supplement that’s been garnering significant attention recently. It’s often described as a natural alternative to Adderall, but what’s the reality? What is Mucuna pruriens and what are the benefits? What does the research say as far as whether or not this “natural Adderall” is all it’s cracked up to be? We explore these questions and provide answers below.
The Best Mucuna Pruriens Reviews
Mucuna pruriens extract, often compared to a natural Adderall, is available on Amazon. As with other natural supplements, it’s not FDA-regulated, however, so make sure you speak to your doctor before using it. If you’re looking for the best mucuna pruriens reviews and the best Amazon products, the following are our picks:
This powder version of Mucuna is Amazon’s choice for mucuna extract. We like it for a few different reasons including:
- This mucuna supplement has excellent customer reviews, and BulkSupplements is a top provider of herbal supplements and similar products on Amazon
- It’s cost-effective—you get 250 grams in this bag
- You can take it how you want—for example, you can combine it in beverages
- Customer reviews cite increased mood, energy, and libido with the use of this product
If you don’t want to deal with a powder, this capsule version of Mucuna is our top pick as well. This product is from NusaPure, and this variation aims to avoid possible side effects such as drowsiness or headaches. Things we like about this product include:
- This capsule version of mucuna contains 15% dopa content with 1000 mg per serving
- It’s over a 100-day supply
- Pure ingredients
- Complete money back guarantee
- Customer reviews describe it as a great product that works well
What is Mucuna Pruriens?
Mucuna pruriens may have benefits that a lot of us are looking for. It’s also known as the dopa bean, the velvet bean, and the magic bean. The health benefits that may occur come from the mucuna pruriens seed primarily. Some of the benefits of this supplement include:
- Boosts productivity (why is why mucuna pruriens is often called natural Adderall or a natural Adderall alternative)
- Boosts libido
- Improves mood
- Reduces anxiety
- Increases focus
- Lowers stress
- May increase male fertility
- It’s neuroprotective for the brain
- Treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s
Mucuna pruriens is a natural herbal supplement and amino acid that’s used frequently in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest forms of holistic healing systems, having been developed more than 3,000 years ago in India.
The idea of Ayurvedic medicine is that your health and wellness rely on a balance of the mind, body and spirit. The idea behind this type of medicine is to promote good health rather than fighting disease. Ayurvedic medicine is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the U.S.
Mucuna pruriens is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are plants that may regulate hormones and help your body better prepare to handle stress.
Mucuna Pruriens and L-Dopa
The specific reason some people believe this herbal remedy has benefits is that it has high levels of something called L-dopa that naturally occur in it.
L-dopa is a dopamine precursor. Dopamine is an important brain chemical impacting emotions, and regulating motivation and pleasure.
The effects of a lack of dopamine in the brain can include lethargy, lack of focus and concentration and depression. However, it’s possible to have too much dopamine which can lead to impulsivity and thrill-seeking behaviors.
People with Parkinson’s disease also show diminished dopamine levels in the brain, so mucuna pruriens is frequently used in holistic and Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms.
Mucuna pruriens is a bean rather than an herb, and it originates from China and India.
Mucuna’s bioactive compound—L-dopa or levodopa—is also a precursor to other important neurotransmitters including adrenaline and noradrenaline. It’s a powerful antioxidant also. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
The Importance of Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter important for mental and even physical health. Only a few neurons in the brain make dopamine. When these neurons are activated, dopamine is released.
Dopamine has a role in drug addiction because drugs cause the release of dopamine. That dopamine release can trigger a reward response in the brain, that then leads to the formation of addiction. Dopamine has a very important role in reinforcement.
Dopamine is what prompts you to do things over and over again to receive a “reward” for that action. Things the brain views as rewarding bring pleasure and boost our mood. There are natural dopamine boosters like food and sex.
Drugs, unfortunately, are not natural dopamine boosters. Dopamine also helps your brain focus on rewarding things, and for addicts, that focus can be on the drugs creating the reward response. The role of dopamine in addiction is one of the primary reasons addiction is a disease rather than a choice.
Along with using drugs and alcohol, other addictive behaviors including gambling and binge eating can trigger dopamine.
When someone has normal levels of dopamine, it helps ensure the optimal functionality for their nervous system. A person with normal dopamine levels will show healthy levels of sex drive, appetite, and motivation. Everyday rewards such as seeing something beautiful or trying a great new food will trigger the release of dopamine. Achieving a goal also triggers dopamine.
Symptoms of low dopamine levels or a dopamine deficiency can include:
- Lack of sleep
- Problems waking up
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Cravings for sugar
- Memory problems
- Difficulty losing weight
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Lack of concentration
How Does Mucuna Pruriens Work?
We already mentioned the fact that mucuna has high levels of L-dopa. The idea behind supplementing with this bean is that you’re supporting how your body naturally creates dopamine. Since L-dopa can cross the brain-blood barrier, theoretically using this supplement can help your brain more effectively produce dopamine.
The Mood-Boosting Effects of Mucuna Pruriens
Seeing the importance of dopamine, it’s understandable why people might want to explore ways to improve their dopamine levels.
There’s some evidence from clinical trials suggesting mucuna could be beneficial to boost mood and reduce anxiety. For example, in 2014 there was research on rats looking at the effects of Mucuna pruriens to relieve anxiety. The results show in each of the three models used that administering mucuna had a significant anti-anxiety effect.
A word of warning, however—separate research indicates that if you have depression from low serotonin levels, supplementing with mucuna could make depression worse. The reason for this possible effect is the fact that large amounts of dopamine can impede the production of serotonin.
Why Is Mucuna Known as a Natural Alternative to Adderall?
Some people believe mucuna is a natural alternative to Adderall. Adderall is a prescription stimulant that helps people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder focus, concentrate and better control their impulsivity.
Adderall works specifically by blocking the reuptake of dopamine, so more is available in your nervous system.
Adderall has many risks, however. It’s a drug of significant abuse, particularly by college students, and using Adderall outside how it’s prescribed makes it particularly dangerous. Some of the risks of Adderall and especially Adderall abuse include:
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Panic attacks
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Heart disease and cardiac complications
These risks leave people often looking for natural alternatives to Adderall, so does mucuna fit that bill?
Some studies do show L-dopa can help boost reaction time and learning. One very small study looked at eight adults between the ages of 21 to 28. They were given a dose of synthetic L-dopa before a reaction time test. The synthetic L-dopa did help improve performance on the test.
There was also a study where participants were put into one of two groups. One group got five doses of 100 mg L-dopa before a set of five learning sessions. The learning sessions took place throughout a week, and the goal was recall accuracy for new words. The group that took the L-dopa did perform better.
Using Mucunca for Libido and Fertility
Another reason people use mucuna is to improve libido and boost fertility. One study of 120 men showed that supplementing with mucuna pruriens helped reduce stress. It also improved the quality of semen in infertile men.
Mucuna may also help promote the production of steroid hormones in fertile men or infertile men. Steroid hormones boost testosterone.
Mucuna Pruriens to Help with Addiction
As was touched on, dopamine plays a key role in addiction. People with a dopamine deficiency are more likely to become addicted to substances and people with addictions will rely on these substances to boost their mood, relieve anxiety and give them energy.
Addiction can represent the brain’s attempt to increase dopamine levels. People who are in active addiction or who are in recovery may find benefits from taking mucuna to help normalize their dopamine levels.
Mucuna and Blood Sugar
Mucuna may help support healthy blood sugar levels, and the seeds of this plant are known to have nutritious qualities. Mucuna may also reduce muscle contractions, so it can help encourage healthy functionality of the digestive system.
What are the Side Effects of Mucuna Pruriens?
Mucuna, also known as cowhage, may have side effects. You should always consult with your doctor before using anything new, including herbal and natural supplements. The most common side effects of mucuna include:
- Abdominal bloating
These side effects are fairly rare. Very rare side effects can include headache, rapid heartbeat, confusion, agitation, and delusions.
People with cardiovascular conditions may experience low blood pressure when they stand, dizziness, fainting or irregular heartbeat.
Using It and Mucuna Pruriens Dosage
There are different ways to incorporate mucuna into your daily routine. The following are examples, and at the start of this article are some of the top-rated mucuna products from Amazon, in different forms.
Mucuna pruriens powder is an inexpensive way to get the benefits of this powerful legume. You can buy powdered versions in bulk on Amazon, and the typical dosage is anywhere from ¼ to ½ a teaspoon.
Depending on the formulation, the mucuna pruriens dosage may be used once or twice a day, but speak to your healthcare provider first.
When you use the powdered form of mucuna, it can be mixed with just about anything including milk, tea, honey or even your morning coffee. When you mix the powder with something, you’re consuming it can improve the effectiveness. In ayurvedic medicine, this is known as a carrier substance.
Another way to take mucuna and derive the benefits are in the form of a tablet. Many tablets that contain mucuna are combinations of other herbs as well, all of which can integrate with one another and provide complementary benefits. As well as tablets, there are capsules.
The mucuna dosage in tablet or capsule form varies depending on the specific product, but it’s usually one to two tablets, taken either once or twice a day.
Summing Up—The Benefits of Mucuna Pruriens
The active compound in mucuna is L-dopa—a precursor to the important dopamine neurotransmitter. You shouldn’t take mucuna pruriens without speaking to your doctor, but there is some evidence that it can be helpful for the treatment of conditions including:
- Dopamine-related depression
- Brain fog
- Low mood
- Low libido
To learn more, get medical advice from a qualified health care professional.
Gould, Hallie. “The Natural Supplement That Replaced My Adderall.” The Thirty. June 7, 2018. Accessed March 15, 2019.
Mahler, Emily. “Mucuna Pruriens: The Mood-Boosting Productivity Pill You’ve Been Looking For.” Bulletproof Blog. Accessed March 15, 2019.
Lampariello, Lucia Raffaella et al. “The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens”Journal of traditional and complementary medicine vol. 2,4 (2012): 331-9. Accessed March 15, 2019.
Group, Edward Dr. “The Benefits of Mucuna Pruriens for Brain Health.” Global Healing Center. June 5, 2017. Accessed March 15, 2019.
WebMD. “What Is Ayurveda?” Accessed March 15, 2019.
Newton, Phil. “What is Dopamine?” Psychology Today. April 26, 2009. Accessed March 15, 2019.
Nootropedia. “Adderall Alternatives: Why and How to Find an Adderall Substitute.” June 30, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019.
RxList. “Cowhage.” Accessed March 15, 2019.