Mucuna was originally found in southern China and astern India but has since become widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, and has developed a variety of hybrid variations. Mucuna pruriens is considered a legume – it is a vine plant, with long and slender branches, alternate leaves, white flowers with blue-purple corolla, and dark brown bean pods (containing 4-6 seeds) which are thick, leathery, hairy and will cause severe itching and irritation if touched.
The beans of mucuna pruriens are used as an aphrodisiac, to manage male infertility and for nervous disorders. It is commonly classified as an adaptogen useful for managing stress, improving focus and mood. This is due to the naturally occurring precursor to dopamine, L-dopa, so taking mucuna as a supplement will support the body’s natural production of dopamine. Mucuna is an antioxidant that has been shown to have anti-parkinson’s and neuroprotective qualities. It is also considered to have nutritional food value as it has high levels of protein and minerals, and the young leaves of the plant are fed to domestic livestock.