PD Community BlogRead Blog

Is natural dopamine better than Sinemet?

Thursday July 18, 2013

Mucuna pruriens or cowhage seeds are a natural source of Levodopa and its use to treat Parkinson’s symptoms can be traced over 4500 years ago when it was first used by Indian physicians practicing traditional Ayurvedic medicine. The benefit of cowhage seeds is due to the fact that these seeds contain 3-4% levodopa, the standard medical treatment for Parkinson’s. Interest in Mucuna pruriens has grown especially amongst individuals searching for a natural treatment.

Because cowhage seeds contain the dopamine precursor levodopa, clinical studies have been preformed to study its use in Parkinson’s disease. One study showed that Mucuna helped Parkinson’s patients with on-off fluctuations and dyskinesia[1]. Motor symptoms improvement was faster with Mucuna 30 grams (Phytrix, manufacturer) than carbidopa/levodopa 50/200. However only eight patient’s were studied and more research needs to be done.

At present, there is no recommended dose as further clinical trials are needed.

The following general principles must be understood when investigating the use of Mucuna pruriens:

1.       The proposed active compound, levodopa, found in these seeds is chemically the same as that in standard medicine. Mucuna, therefore, can have the same side effects that are seen with levodopa.

2.      Mucuna pruriens seeds, like other natural substances, are made up of more than just levodopa. Proposed benefits could be due to other biologically active compounds not yet determined that are present in the seed. Although these compounds may add benefit they can also have additional side effects and drug interactions.

3.      Supplements are not regulated by the FDA so any single brand may not have the purity or strength claimed on the manufacturing label. Supplements are big business and you may not always be buying what you think you are buying. Toxic side effects from impurities in supplements have been observed. Look for supplements with the label ‘USP verified’ to insure potency, purity and bioavailability is appropriate.

4.      Natural supplements can interact with you medicines. Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement.

5.     The amount of levodopa present in beans can vary dramatically from on bean to the next based on age, where it is grown, etc; so it may be difficult to standardized a dosage.

Other names for Mucuna pruriens are: velvet bean and cowhage seed.

As always, it is important that you talk with your healthcare provider before changing your medical therapy.

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Guest Blogger, Former Medical Director of NWPF

Recent Posts

Present Moment: A Continued Conversation
Book Review: Navigating Life with Parkinson's Disease
JBC + DBS: A Mostly-Love Story
Present Moment
On the scent of Parkinson’s disease


Advocacy (3)
alternative therapies (1)
Antioxidants (1)
art (1)
baby boomers (1)
Basketball (1)
Blog (1)
Blood Pressue (1)
Boise (1)
Book review (2)
Books (1)
Booth Gardner Parkinson's Care Center (1)
bradykinesia (1)
bradyphrenic (1)
care partner (1)
Care Resources (1)
Caregiver (4)
Caregivers (1)
Caregiving (14)
carepartner (1)
challenges (1)
Cognitive Health (5)
Community Programs & Updates (1)
Complementary Therapy (4)
Comprehensive Care (5)
connection (1)
Creativity (4)
Dairy (1)
data (1)
DBS (1)
Deep Brain Stimulation (5)
dementia (1)
Diagnosis (1)
Diagnosis and Progression (15)
diet (1)
Diet (1)
Digestion (1)
Dizziness (1)
Eating (1)
Education (1)
Embarrassment (1)
Emotional Health (7)
Encouragement Inspiration and Motivation (8)
Every Victory Counts (1)
Everyday Changes (1)
Exercise (25)
Exercise & Movement (4)
Facts (1)
Family & Friends (3)
Family Members (11)
fathers (1)
financial burden (1)
Food (1)
Friends & Family (4)
frozen addicts (1)
Fundraising (1)
Goals (1)
Government (1)
graduation (1)
Healthy Foods (1)
Hiking (1)
history of parkinson's (1)
Hope (6)
hope conferece (1)
hope conference (3)
Hot Off the Press! (5)
Income (1)
John Palfreman (1)
Jon Palfreman (1)
Julio Angulo (11)
Karl Robb (1)
Lactose (1)
language (1)
Lewy body dementia (1)
Lifestyle (7)
Living with Parkinson's (27)
Medical Research (1)
medical safety (1)
Medical Therapy (1)
Medical Treatment (1)
Medication (2)
Medication Side Effects (10)
medications (2)
Medicine (1)
Milk (1)
Mindfulness (1)
Mindfulness and Spirituality (3)
motivation (1)
motor symptoms (2)
Movement (5)
Movement Disorder Specialist (1)
Musings (3)
Nan Little (2)
Nature (1)
Navigating Healthcare (2)
Neurology (3)
Neurons (1)
Neuroscience (2)
Non-movement Symptoms (12)
Northera (1)
northwest (2)
Northwest Parkinson's Foundation (3)
Nutrition (12)
NWPF (1)
Oregon (1)
Our Community (3)
Outdoors (1)
Outside (1)
Parkinson Associated Risk Syndrome (1)
Parkinson's (7)
Parkinson's Action Network (1)
Parkinson's Cafe (1)
Parkinson's Community (7)
Parkinson's Diagnosis (2)
parkinson's disease (6)
Parkinson's Disease Symptoms (4)
Parkinson's Doctors (1)
parkinson's film (1)
Parkinson's in the Media (2)
Parkinsons Medical Therapy (13)
Parkinsons Nutrition (2)
Parkinsons Research (5)
Parkinson's Research (6)
Parkinson's Symptoms (1)
Parkinson's Treatment (1)
PD Link (1)
PD symptom (1)
Person with Parkinson's (1)
Personal care (1)
Peter Dunlap-Schohl (9)
Physician (1)
Poetry (3)
Portland (1)
posture (1)
present moment film (2)
Pressure Sores (1)
preventive treatment (1)
Psychology (3)
PWP (1)
quiz (1)
recipe (1)
Relationships (6)
Research (1)
resilience (1)
Seaside (1)
seattle (1)
Self-Care (29)
Shame (1)
side effects (1)
slowness (1)
Smell (1)
Social Security (1)
Specialized Care (1)
Sports (1)
statistics (1)
summer (1)
Supplemental Security Income (1)
support (1)
Surgical Therapy (3)
symptom management (5)
Symptoms (18)
The Amazing Race (1)
The Amazing Race Canada (1)
The Tims (2)
Tim Hague (5)
Tim Hague Sr. (4)
tips (1)
Travel (2)
Travel Tips (2)
Travelling (2)
Treatment (1)
Trips (1)
Vacation (1)
Vitamins and Supplements (9)
Volunteer (3)
Walk (1)
Walk in the Park (1)
walking (1)
Walking (1)
wellness (1)
Work (1)
World Parkinson Congress (1)
Yoga for Parkinson's (1)
young onset (1)
young onset parkinson's (1)


Present Moment: A Continued Conversation
Book Review: Navigating Life with Parkinson's Disease
JBC + DBS: A Mostly-Love Story
Present Moment
On the scent of Parkinson’s disease
Harold Allen (Hal) Newsom
The 2016 World Parkinson’s Congress in Portland, Oregon is Fast Approaching: Make Plans to Attend
Flowers on Dr. Starr's Tie
Leading the life of malicious whimsy
Listen: Unlocking Parkinson's Disease
Book Review: If I Can Climb Kilimanjaro, Why Can't I Brush My Teeth?
QUIZ: How well do you know your Parkinson’s Disease?
The Evolution of HOPE
Living with Hope
Notes on Hope
Tug, tug, tug
Denial on Trial
Flowers in Our Hair
Resilience: Bouncing Back from Adversity
Summer Travel
Tina Sawyer Steps Up Fundraising in Seaside
The uncooperative patient
To be in June
Pressure Sores
Caring for a Spouse Living with PD
Life Lessons
Doc Parkinson - A Eulogy
Boom Go Parkinson’s Costs
From the Depths of the Cupboards: Pumpkin Bars
Doctor's Visits
Get Moving!
Choosing a shared burden
Our Brain's "Negativity Bias" Part 2
Outside of Language
Managing Constipation in Parkinson’s Disease
Finding Time for Caregiver Care
The Helplessness Antidote
Examples of living your best
10 exercise tips for people with Parkinson's
Bit on Basketball
Suggestions for the Shaken
Parkinson's Action Network (PAN) Report
Our Brain’s “Negativity Bias”
Living for a Cure
Three Huge Changes for People with Parkinson's
Caregiving, the Next Level
Parkinson's Pundit
Making Spousal Relationships Work
Parkinson’s and Luck
Resolve to be a Better Caregiver!
Update from the Parkinson's Action Network
Strength. Courage.
Strategies to Achieve our New Year’s Resolutions and Goals
Movement is Medicine
2014 2013 2012
Most popular posts of 2012
What are you grateful for this holiday season?
How can I tell whether medications are wearing off or Parkinson’s disease is progressing?
Can a person with Parkinson’s give blood?
When is the right time to start Levodopa?
Can acupuncture help PD symptoms?
Support the Caregiver in your Life
Power of the mind to move treatment further
Top 10 Foods for Parkinson’s (and counting!)
How can I prevent dizziness?
What can you tell me about laser light therapy and Parkinson’s
What is music therapy?
Should I take Coenzyme Q10 for my Parkinson’s?
How do I treat my cough at night?
Parkinson’s fitness programs need to be tailored to the individual to get results
Carrying the Olympic Torch for Parkinson’s today
Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s. What about other foods?
Facts about depression
How can I find a good doctor who is knowledgeable about PD and is caring as well? My doctor does not always listen.
Help for constipation
Sex, Intimacy and Parkinson’s
Does DBS affect speech?
Walking and balance can significantly impact quality of life- but is treatable.
Depression is common with Parkinson’s
Ode to Parkinson’s- Poem from Member
Music Enhances Brain Activity
How does posture change with Parkinson’s?
What is important to you?
Are hallucinations caused by Parkinson’s?
Hot Off the Press – Neupro approved by FDA
How do I find a Parkinson’s physical therapist to keep me exercising?
Does Azilect slow disease progression?
Manage nausea from medicines
Is delaying medication harmful?
Advice for newly diagnosed
Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
Medication Timing
Is gambling a side effect of medicine?
Medication Assistance
Does stress cause Parkinson’s?
When to see a physical therapist
FDA approves DATScan
Coconut Oil
Protein’s effect on medicine
Restless Leg Syndrome