Mucuna commonly known as Kavacha/ Kaunch beej (Botanical name- Mucuna pruriens) is a tropical legume native to Africa and tropical Asia and widely naturalized and cultivated. Its English common names include velvet bean, cowage, cowitch. The plant is notorious for the extreme itchiness it produces on contact, particularly with the young foliage and the seed pods. Mucuna or Kavacha is well known by two Sanskrit names, Kapikacchu, which means "one starts itching like a monkey" and Atmagupta, which means "secret self," and hints at the therapeutic value of the seed concealed within the allergenic seedpod.
In Ayurveda, Mucuna is used from ancient times for various neurological & general debility problems. Mucuna is used in dysfunction of all 3 dosha’s, viz Vata, Pitta, kapha especially in aggravated Vata & Pitta. Mucuna is Sweet & Bitter primarily and warm in potency. Mucuna is used especially as aphrodisiac agent to increase spermatogenesis and strengthening muscles/ ligaments. As per Ayurveda, Mucuna pacifies aggravated Vata in Majja Dhatu (Nervous System), promotes strength to basic structure of Nerves and helps to control body movements.Research suggests Mucuna Extract protects the brain by keeping cognitive and neural functions in check, even encouraging neural activity. The Antioxidants present in Mucuna Extract donate an electron to the free radical to neutralize its effects, particularly on the brain. Mucuna Extract has an added benefit in that it fights systemic redness in the brain, which is often a factor in brain degradation.
Most Modern study of Mucuna Extract has shown presence of a compound called L-DOPA which is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine supports stimulation of the pituitary gland to increase its production and healthy testosterone levels (it must be mentioned that these increases are never throwing the endocrine system out of balance, merely improving levels which tend to decrease over time in the average person). These resulting increased levels of these hormones from the use of Mucuna extracts, Powder s and/or raw herbs explains its association with promoting libido, fertility, lean muscle mass, reducing signs of aging such as wrinkles and body fat, increasing bone density and even boosting overall energy levels.
L-DOPA from Mucuna has been shown to be safer and more effective for controlling various nervine disorders where there is deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Mucuna Extract study also looks to be very promising as a supplementary treatment for recovering drug addicts and people suffering from depression related illness, since these people have deficiencies of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine (which the velvet beans contain and help balance in the human body).
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