Mucuna Pruriens: Dopaminergic Dynamo
By Alan Lewis | Wednesday, February 21, 2007 5:20:48 PM America/New_York
L-DOPA for Dopamine
Mucuna is an excellent source of L-DOPA for dopamine formation -- and this has been proven in human clinical trials demonstrating Mucuna's benefits for dopamine-deficient Parkinson's patients. Dopamine is one of the stimulating, alerting neurotransmitters in the brain. It wakes you up, gets you moving, and focuses attention. People with too little dopamine feel tired and sluggish, have to drink five cups of coffee (which stimulates dopamine release, by the way), and generally cannot perform well. In addition, dopamine is known as the "feel good" neurotransmitters and with an increased levels comes greatly improved mood and feelings of well-being. Some users have reported feeling almost euphoric. Another major action of dopamine is to depress prolactin levels. Prolactin is a pituitary hormone, and one that can interfere with normal sexual functioning. In fact, drugs that stimulate the release of prolactin often cause impotence. For this reason, as well as other actions, Mucuna has been used in sexual difficulties (see below).
Growth Hormone Release
For athletes, one of the key actions of Mucuna is to stimulate growth hormone release. L-DOPA itself is a powerful releaser of growth hormone. Actually -- to get technical -- L-DOPA stimulates the release of growth hormone releasing hormone, or GHRH, which in turn stimulates the pituitary to release growth hormone. In case it is necessary to mention: growth hormone is fantastic stuff for bodybuilders and athletes. It is powerfully pro-anabolic (right up there with testosterone and insulin in this respect), while at the same time stimulating the breakdown of bodyfat. With high levels of growth hormone it is possible to change body composition very rapidly -- more muscle, less fat.
Everyone's Favorite Subject
Sex, of course! Mucuna appears to have some powerful effects in this department as well. In animal studies, Mucuna stimulates libido and sexual behavior, and boosts performance, while elevating serum testosterone levels. One rat study, for example, observed a ten-fold increase in (male to female) mounting activity. Other studies demonstrated sustained sexual stimulation, as evidenced by decreases in the so-called post-ejaculatory interval (the male "refractory" period after having had one orgasm). Mucuna extracts also delay the time to ejaculation, suggesting possible utility in men with premature ejaculation problems. Further, the bioactive alkaloids in Mucuna Pruriens -- mucunine, mucunadine, mucuadinine, prurienine and purienidine -- have been found to stimulate testosterone secretion and increase the sperm count of animals. Remarkably, they also increase testicular size! This sounds very much like a Luteinizing Hormone (L.H.) action: pituitary L.H. is the hormone that maintains testicular size as well as testosterone synthesis and release. Though no one has studied it as yet, it appears likely that Mucuna stimulates L.H. release. Mucuna's libido-stimulating action may be due in part to suppression of prolactin by dopamine. Prolactin is a powerful ANaphrodisiac -- i.e. the opposite of an aphrodisiac!
In terms of overall results, Mucuna appears to be one of the most promising herbs to hit the market in years. Users report improved mood and feelings of well-being, increased energy levels, and more. This is one of just a few herbs that produces noticeable effects almost immediately, leaving little doubt as to efficacy.
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