Mucuna pruriens is an herb that’s sometimes included in bodybuilding and health supplements

That’s because Mucuna pruriens extract is touted to increase testosterone and libido and reduce symptoms of depression.

What are the real benefits of Mucuna pruriens, though, and what’s the best Mucuna pruriens supplement to take?

In this article, you’ll learn what Mucuna pruriens is, the effective dosage, its side effects, whether Mucuna pruriens powder can increase testosterone, how to take it, and more.

What Is Mucuna Pruriens?

Mucuna pruriens, also commonly known as velvet bean and cowhage, is a climbing shrub in the legume family that is native to Africa and Asia and is cultivated in North America. It produces seeds which are covered in tiny hairs that cause intense itching if they touch your skin.

While the whole plant can be fed to livestock or used as soil fertilizer, the seeds can be cooked and eaten. These seeds are rich in levodopa, also known as L-DOPA, which is an amino acid involved in the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, cognition, and motivation to exercise.

The main reason bodybuilders are interested in Mucuna pruriens, though, is they believe it can increase testosterone levels. And the main reason they think it can increase testosterone levels is because it’s been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for treating infertility and as an aphrodisiac (a substance that increases sexual desire). 

Interestingly, it’s also been used traditionally as an antivenom for snake bites and to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Modern studies have supported this latter use too, showing Mucuna pruriens can be just as effective as standard pharmaceutical options for treating Parkinson’s, and possibly with fewer side effects. 

Mucuna Pruriens Benefits

Research shows Mucuna pruriens can . . .

The primary way Mucuna pruriens affects the body is by providing L-DOPA, which is converted into dopamine in the brain. In other words, Mucuna pruriens can increase dopamine levels which affects a number of physiological systems throughout the body.

For example, Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological disorder that damages neurons in the brain that produce dopamine. As a result, dopamine levels plummet, which primarily affects the motor system, causing tremors, stiffness, and slow movement. It can also cause depression and anxiety.

By increasing dopamine levels, Mucuna pruriens is able to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, acutely boost mood and focus, and possibly help alleviate depression.

Aside from taking the edge off of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Mucuna pruriens is also becoming increasingly popular among bodybuilders who believe that it can increase testosterone levels, and thus muscle growth.

Mucuna pruriens does seem to be able to increase testosterone and sperm quality in infertile men, but there’s currently no evidence it has the same effect on healthy men.

Additionally, even if Mucuna pruriens does increase testosterone levels, it’s unlikely this would have a significant effect on muscle growth. That’s because while testosterone is the primary hormonal driver of muscle growth, small changes in testosterone levels within the normal range have more or less no impact on muscle growth.

That is, small increases in your testosterone levels (the kind seen in the Mucuna pruriens study mentioned) won’t result in significant body composition benefits. For that, you have to exceed the physiological normal range, and that can only be accomplished by taking steroids.

It’s also worth noting that L-DOPA doesn’t seem to increase libido, despite the fact that high levels of dopamine are associated with hypersexuality.

Mucuna Pruriens Side Effects

Most people don’t experience negative side effects from taking Mucuna pruriens, and most research hasn’t noted any significant adverse side effects. 

That said, because Mucuna pruriens contains L-DOPA, it can have the same side effects as levodopa, which include nausea, vomiting, anxiety, low blood pressure, and dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movements). 

Some people like to take Mucuna pruriens before bed due to anecdotal reports that it can cause vivid dreams and improve sleep. However, research on L-DOPA in regards to sleep is mixed, and some people even report that it causes insomnia. In other words, your mileage may vary.

Additionally, because L-DOPA can increase dopamine levels in the brain, you shouldn’t take Mucuna pruriens if you take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are commonly used to treat depression. That’s because MAOIs prevent enzymes from breaking down dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which increases dopamine in the brain. Thus, taking L-DOPA with an MAOI could result in excessive dopamine levels in the brain.

Chronic and high-dose supplementation of L-DOPA, particularly in regards to Parkinson’s Disease, can result in disrupted and poor sleep quality, dopamine dysregulation, and resistance to L-DOPA in general. Though we don’t know for sure, it’s reasonable to assume Mucuna pruriens could have similar effects when taken in high enough doses for long periods of time. 

Mucuna Pruriens Dosage

The clinically effective dose (the amount used in studies to show benefits) of Mucuna pruriens powder varies depending on its use.

For increasing testosterone, a Mucuna pruriens dosage of 5 grams of powder per day is effective. In regards to reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, 15 to 30 grams of Mucuna pruriens powder has proven to be effective. 

How much Mucuna pruriens you should take generally depends on its L-DOPA content. Mucuna pruriens usually contains 3% to 6% L-DOPA by dry weight, but Mucuna pruriens extract can be standardized to different amounts of L-DOPA.

The clinically effective dose of L-DOPA is between 50 and 500 mg, with lower doses used for boosting cognitive function.

Generally, it’s best to start with the smallest dose possible and see how your body responds in order to avoid side effects. You don’t want to take more than you need for longer than you need.

What Is the Best Way to Take Mucuna Pruriens?

If you’re overweight or obese, Mucuna pruriens could be worth taking. That’s because L-DOPA production tends to be impaired in overweight and obese people, and this can cause reduced focus and brain fog. Although weight loss alone can normalize L-DOPA levels, supplementing with it during periods of dieting can help preserve mood and cognition.

That’s why we included L-DOPA from Mucuna pruriens in Phoenix, our all-natural fat burner supplement. Specifically, each serving includes 153 mg of Mucuna pruriens extract, providing 150 mg of L-DOPA.

So, if you want to speed up your metabolism, enhance fat burning, reduce hunger and cravings, and improve your mood while cutting, try Phoenix today.

If your goal is to boost testosterone or improve your overall health, supplementing with Mucuna pruriens is not the best choice. It’s primary benefit is for Parkinson’s Disease, and long-term supplementation is more likely to cause side effects.

Instead, you can take other supplements proven to support your hormone levels and improve mood. 

For example, DHEA can increase testosterone and balance your hormones, and Rhodiola rosea can improve mood, enhance cognition, and reduce symptoms of stress and depression. If you’re looking for a good source of DHEA and Rhodiola rosea, try Vitality, which balances hormones, increases energy levels, and reduces stress and fatigue. 

FAQ #1: Does Mucuna pruriens increase dopamine?

Yes, Mucuna pruriens has been shown to increase dopamine levels. It also contains L-DOPA, which is a compound that’s quickly converted into dopamine in the body. 

FAQ #2: Does Mucuna pruriens increase testosterone?

There isn’t currently any evidence Mucuna pruriens increases testosterone in healthy men.

Research shows that Mucuna pruriens can increase testosterone levels in infertile men and diabetic rats, but unless you call into one of those two categories, it’s not going to boost your T levels. 😉 We’ll have to wait for more research before we know if it increases testosterone levels in healthy people.

FAQ #3: Does Mucuna pruriens cross the blood-brain barrier?

Mucuna pruriens itself doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier, but the L-DOPA it contains does.

Once L-DOPA crosses the blood-brain barrier, it’s converted into dopamine. However, L-DOPA can also be converted into dopamine before it enters the brain, where its effects are wasted.

For this reason, L-DOPA is often taken with other drugs like Carbidopa that prevent the conversion of L-DOPA into dopamine before it enters the brain in order to maximize its potency.

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