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Mucuna Pruriens – Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Mucuna Pruriens is the latin name of an Ayurvedic Herbal drug named “Kapikachu”. It is a creeping vine and belongs to Fabaceae family.

It is widely used in Indian and Chinese medicine system due to its origin from southern china and eastern India.

Mostly its seeds are used for the therapeutic purposes. It has two varieties of seeds- white and black.

The beans and hairs of the pods are also used for health benefits.

It is mostly known for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and male infertility.


It is found in all the tropical areas, throughout India including Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

English Names

Velvet bean, Cowhage, Cow itch, wild itchy bean

Sanskrit Names

Kapikachu, Atmagupta, Kandura, Kevanch

Why these names?

Mucuna has long stinging hairs on its pods which results in intense itchy dermatitis, when came in contact with humans.

Health Benefits of Mucuna Puriens

  • It has neuro-protective effects which may be related to the antioxidant property.
  • In addition, anti-oxidant activity of M. pruriens has been also demonstrated in vitro.
  • It helps in maintaining normal physical activity, nice gait and coordination.
  • It is a rich source of food as it is rich in essential fatty acids, protein, starch content and amino acids.
  • Since it promotes smooth muscle contractions, it helps in healthy digestive functioning.

  • It supports healthy blood sugar level since it has anti-diabetic properties.
  • It fortifies sexual energy and increases the libido with the help of ethanol extracts by increasing the testosterone levels.
  • It helps slow down the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • It helps in relieving the pain and fever.
  • Anti-epileptic and anti-neoplastic activity of methanol extract of M. pruriens has been reported (Gupta et al., 1997)
  • It possesses anti-venom activities.
  • It helps in reducing the stress by suppressing the stress hormone ‘cortisol’.
  • It stimulates the surface blood flow in paralysis related disorders and helps them recuperate.
  • It is really helpful in cases of arthritis and bone & joint conditions by its local application on the affected area.
  • M. pruriens has also been shown to be neuroprotective (Misra and Wagner, 2007), and has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity (Hishika et al., 1981).
Uses of Seeds
  • Its beans are used as aphrodisiac source.
  • It has Anti-Parkinson’s properties as it contains L-dopa which increases the dopamine concentrations.
  • In ancient times, paste of its beans was applied on scorpion stings as it was thought to absorb the poison.
  • Used in impotence and spermatorrhea.
  • Its extracts are useful against the lethalities of snake venoms.
  • A methanol extract of MP seeds has demonstrated significant in vitro anti-oxidant activity, and there are also indications that methanol extracts of M. pruriens may be a potential source of natural anti-oxidants and anti-microbial agents (Rajeshwar et al., 2005).
  • They are very helpful in leucorrhoea.
  • They were traditionally used in male infertility.
  • They are also used in depressive neurosis.
  • There is some evidence that Mucuna might be effective for chlorpromazine-induced hyperprolactinemia in men.
  • The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India recommends the seed in impotence and paralysis agitans.
Uses of Root
  • It is used as nervine tonic.
  • It is used to increase urine output.
  • It is helpful in kidney disorders.
  • The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India recommends the use of root in vaginal laxity.
Uses of Leaf
  • Leaves are crushed and applied on ulcers for the treatment.
  • Leaves show anti-microbial activity due to the presence of phenols and tannins, terpenoids, kerotonins and steroids.
Uses of Pod
  • Pod possesses anti-helminthic properties.
  • Hairs on pods are vermifuge and mild vesicant.
  • Use for diseases of liver and gall bladder.
  • Used in anti-depression drugs as it contains serotonin which helps in improving mood and social behavior. It also regulated sleep, digestion and appetite.
Uses of Fruit
  • Fruits possess hypoglycemic and spasmolytic properties.
Uses of Root
  • Its root possesses CNS active properties.

Side Effects of Mucuna Pruiens

  • Direct contact with its seeds can cause severe dermatitis and itching with allergic reaction on the affected parts.
  • It can elevate the blood pressure level in some cases.
  • Some common side effects like nausea, feeling of uneasiness, vomiting etc.
  • It can also cause abdominal bloating in some cases.
  • As it decreases the blood sugar level, it can cause hypoglycemia. So stay aware and make sure to check blood sugar levels regularly.

L-dopa in some cases can be harmful. For example-

  • In liver diseases, it increases the chemical level in the body which affects the liver and makes it worse.
  • It can stimulate hyper-production of skin pigment “melanin” which can cause skin cancer or hyperpigmentation.
  • It can also cause severe complications in case of GI ulcers as it increases the risk of bleeding in ulcers.
  • It can cause severe complications if consumed during or immediately after any surgical procedures as it hampers with the blood pressure levels.
  • It can induce hallucinations, agitation, headache and confusion.


Its dosage depends on the age, physique and physiological conditions of the consumer.

It is mostly used in two forms:

  • Powder – 3-6 gms
  • Tablet – 2 tablets daily (Morning and eveing) generally.

You can consult your physician first.

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