Mucuna pruriens

Botanical Name :Mucuna pruriens
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe:     Phaseoleae
Genus:     Mucuna
Species: M. pruriens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Fabales

Synonyms: Dolichos pruriens. Stizolobium pruriens. Mucuna prurita. Setae Siliquae Hirsutae. Cowage. Cowitch. Couhage. Kiwach.

Common Names:(French) Cadjuet. Pois velus. Pois à gratter. Liane à gratter. Pois pouilleux. Ceil de bourrique.
(German) Kratzbohnen. Kuhkratze.

* Bieh (in the Madurese language)
* Ci mao li dou  (in Chinese)
* Nasagunnikaayi ( in Kannada)
* Kara benguk in the Javanese language
* Atmagupta or Kapikacchu (in Sanskrit)
* Kiwanch or Konch ( in Hindi)
* Khaajkuiri in Marathi
* Alkushi  (in Bengali)
* Poonaikkaali ( in Tamil)
* Velvet bean, Cowhage, Cowitch, Donkey eye, monkey tamarind, and Buffalo beans in English (the last also refers to Thermopsis rhombifolia)
* Juckbohne (German: “itch bean”)
* Fogareté (Dominican Republic); Picapica (everywhere), in Spanish
* Kapikachu
* Werepe or YerepeYoruba
* Duradagondi (in Telugu)
* Feijão maluco, “mad bean” (Angola and Mozambique); pó-de-mico, “itching powder”, feijão-da-flórida, “Florida’s bean”, feijão-cabeludo-da-índia, “hairy/pilous Indian bean”, feijão-de-gado, “cattle’s bean”, feijão-mucuna, “mucuna bean”, feijão-veludo, “velvet bean”, and mucuna-vilosa, “fleecy mucuna” (Brazil and Portugal), in Portuguese
* Chitedze (Malawi)
* Naykuruna  (in Malayalam)
* Mah mui (in Thai language)
* Móc mèo (in Vietnamese language)
* Kavach beej
* Inyelekpe (Nigeria) in Igala
* Upupu in Kiswahili
* Baidanka (in Oriya)
* Pois mascate (Reunion Island) in French
* Wandhuru Mæ in Sinhala
* Kway lee yerr thee (in Myanmar)
* Agbala (Nigeria) in Ibo
* “Bandar Kekowa” (in Assamese)
* “picapica (puerto rico).

Habitat :Mucuna pruriens is  native to Tropical regions, especially East and West Indies. (It is  widely naturalized  Africa and Asia ).

Description:
The plant is an annual, climbing shrub with long vines that can reach over 15 m in length. When the plant is young, it is almost completely covered with fuzzy hairs, but when older, it is almost completely free of hairs. The leaves are tripinnate, ovate, reverse ovate, rhombus-shaped or widely ovate. The sides of the leaves are often heavily grooved and the tips are pointy. In young M.pruriens plants, both sides of the leaves have hairs. The stems of the leaflets are two to three millimeters long. Additional adjacent leaves are present and are about 5 mm long.

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The flower heads take the form of axially arrayed panicles. They are 15 to 32 cm long and have two or three, or many flowers. The accompanying leaves are about 12.5 mm long, the flower stand axes are from 2.5 to 5 mm. The bell is 7.5 to 9 mm long and silky. The sepals are longer or of the same length as the shuttles. The crown is purplish or white. The flag is 1.5 mm long. The wings are 2.5 to 3.8 cm long.

In the fruit ripening stage, a 4 to 13 cm-long, 1 to 2 cm-wide, unwinged, leguminous fruit develops. There is a ridge along the length of the fruit. The husk is very hairy and carries up to seven seeds. The seeds are flattened uniform ellipsoids, 1 to 1.9 cm long, 0.8 to 1.3 cm wide and 4 to 6.5 cm thick. The hilum, the base of the funiculus (connection between placenta and plant seeds) is a surrounded by a significant arillus (fleshy seeds shell).

M.pruriens bears white, lavender, or purple flowers. Its seed pods are about 10 cm long  and are covered in loose, orange hairs that cause a severe itch if they come in contact with skin. The chemical compounds responsible for the itch are a protein, mucunain and serotonin.  The seeds are shiny black or brown drift seeds.

The dry weight of the seeds is 55 to 85 g/100 seeds

Edible Uses:
M. pruriens is sometimes used as a coffee substitute called “Nescafe” (not to be confused with the commercial brand Nescafé). Cooked fresh shoots or beans can also be eaten. This requires that they be soaked from at least 30 minutes to 48 hours in advance of cooking, or the water changed up to several times during cooking, since otherwise the plant can be toxic to humans. The above described process leaches out phytochemical compounds such as levodopa, making the product more suitable for consumption. If consumed in large quantities as food, unprocessed M. pruriens is toxic to non-ruminant mammals, including humans.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used:  The hairs of the pod, seeds.

Chemical Constituents:In addition to levodopa, it contains minor amounts of serotonin (5-HT), 5-HTP, nicotine, N,N-DMT (DMT), bufotenine, and 5-MeO-DMT. As such, it could potentially have psychedelic effects, and it has purportedly been used in ayahuasca preparations.

The mature seeds of the plant contain about 3.1–6.1% L-DOPA,[11] with trace amounts of 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin), nicotine, DMT-n-oxide, bufotenine, 5-MeO-DMT-n-oxide, and beta-carboline. One study using 36 samples of the seeds found no tryptamines present in them.

The leaves contain about 0.5% L-DOPA, 0.006% dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 0.0025% 5-MeO-DMT and 0.003% DMT n-oxide.

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The ethanolic extract of leaves of Mucuna pruriens possesses anticataleptic and antiepileptic effect in albino rats. Dopamine and serotonin may have a role in such activity

The hairs are usually filled with air, but sometimes contain granular matter, with tannic acid and resin. No tincture or decoction is effective.

A mechanical anthelmintic. The hairs, mixed with syrup, molasses, or honey, pierce the bodies of intestinal worms, which writhe themselves free from the walls, so that a brisk cathartic will bring them away. It is usually a safe remedy, but enteritis has sometimes followed its use. It has little effect upon tape-worm, but is good for Ascaris lumbricoides and in slightly less degree for the smaller Oxyuris vermicularis.

Benefits of Mucuna pruriens

In the form of an ointment, Mucuna has been used as a local stimulant in paralysis and other affections, acting like Croton oil. A decoction of the root or legumes is said to have been used in dropsy as a diuretic and for catarrh, and in some parts of India an infusion is used in cholera.

It is a good medium for the application of such substances as muriate of morphia. In the proportion of 7 to 8 grains of cowhage to an ounce of lard, it should be rubbed in for from 10 to 20 minutes. It brings out flat, white pimples, which soon disappear. Oil relieves the heat and irritation caused on the skin.

The seeds are said to be aphrodisiac.

CLICK & SEE THE   HEALTH BENEFITS OF MUCUNA PRURIENS

Other Uses:
In many parts of the world, Mucuna pruriens is used as an important forage, fallow and green manure crop. Since the plant is a legume, it fixes nitrogen and fertilizes soil.

M. pruriens is a widespread fodder plant in the tropics. To that end, the whole plant is fed to animals as silage, dried hay or dried seeds. M. pruriens silage contains 11-23% crude protein, 35-40% crude fiber, and the dried beans 20-35% crude protein. It also has use in the countries of Benin and Vietnam as a biological control for problematic Imperata cylindrica grass. M. pruriens is said to not be invasive outside its cultivated area.[5] However, the plant is known to be invasive within conservation areas of South Florida, where it frequently invades disturbed land and rockland hammock edge habitats.

Medical Research:
M. pruriens contains L-DOPA, a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine and formulations of the seed powder have been studied for the management and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

In large amounts (e.g. 30 g dose), it has been shown to be as effective as pure levodopa/carbidopa in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, but no data on long-term efficacy and tolerability are available.

Known Hazards:
The plant is notorious for the extreme itchiness it produces on contact, particularly with the young foliage and the seed pods. It has value in agricultural and horticultural use and has a range of medicinal properties.

The hairs lining the seed pods and the small spicules on the leaves contain 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) which cause severe itching (pruritus) when touched. The calyx below the flowers is also a source of itchy spicules and the stinging hairs on the outside of the seed pods are used in itching powder. Water should not be used if contact occurs, as it only dilutes the chemical. Also, one should avoid scratching the exposed area since this causes the hands to transfer the chemical to all other areas touched. Once this happens, one tends to scratch vigorously and uncontrollably and for this reason the local populace in northern Mozambique refer to the beans as the mad beans (feijões malucos). They use raw, unrefined moist tobacco to treat the itching. In India, the application of cow dung is very effective to treat the itching caused by the spicules of this herb.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucuna_pruriens
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cowha111.html

 

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