Do you feel an itch?
It could be Mucuna Pruriens – a tropical bean with serotonin on its surface, which causes irritation when touched.
Mucuna is also called the dopa bean. That’s because it’s the best natural source of L-DOPA, the precursor to dopamine (the feel-good molecule).
It’s traditionally used in Ayurveda medicine as a natural herbal supplement to relieve stress, anxiety, insomnia while improving focus, libido, and memory.
What’s less known though, is Mucuna’s effect on androgen hormones such as testosterone.
According to various studies (which I’ll link and explain further below), it’s able to raise anabolic hormones along with promoting sperm quality.
Let’s have a closer look, shall we?
What Is Mucuna Pruriens?
Mucuna pruriens is a tropical vine from the legume family. It grows in certain parts of Africa and Asia.
Mucuna has a number of names. These include:
- Velvet bean
It produces bean pods which are covered with serotonin and have prickly hair growing out. Inside these bean pods, you’ll find seeds. These are the golden part of Mucuna – they contain the active compound L-DOPA. Which is responsible for promoting the production of dopamine (more on that later).
Mucuna has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its gentle benefits on human health.
In Ayurveda, it is a famous adaptogen, helping the body deal with anxiety, insomnia, and stress. 
How Mucuna Boosts Dopamine
The key active compound in Mucuna pruriens is L-Dopa. It’s an amino acid which is used by your brain to create dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. 
You know that awesome feeling when you eat your favorite dessert? Or when you get a promotion at work?
It makes us feel good and motivated to chase our goals. Every time you do something rewarding, dopamine is released in your brain and makes you feel good about the thing you did.
However, if you lack dopamine, you might feel unmotivated and sluggish. Your concentration and focus might also become week, which leads to all kinds of other problems.
Research suggests that Mucuna Pruriens can help you out with this.
Since it contains plenty of L-DOPA, it’s able to boost dopamine levels in your brain. Studies show it’s extremely helpful in cases with Parkinson’s disease, which is often the result of dopamine deficiency. 
In fact, Mucuna pruriens appears to be just as effective as certain medications for treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms and increasing dopamine levels in the brain. And it doesn’t cause any side effects. [4, 5]
Not only does Mucuna work in cases with Parkinson’s, it also boosts dopamine levels in people with no cognitive issues.
In one study, researchers gave 5 grams of Mucuna pruriens powder to a group of men for 90 days. The result? They all had increased dopamine levels by the end of the study. 
Another study in mice showed Mucuna has an antidepressant effect due to its ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain. 
To sum it up:
Mucuna Pruriens boosts dopamine production in both healthy individuals and those with Parkinson’s. This helps with motivation, focus, and well-being. Some studies also found that Mucuna has an anti-depressant effect.
How Mucuna Affects Your Testosterone
The dopamine boost that Mucuna provides leads to many health benefits.
Aside from the increase in motivation, focus, and energy, elevated dopamine also upregulates androgen receptors, improves testosterone synthesis, inhibits prolactin, and even boosts growth hormone production. [8, 9, 10, 11]
But there’s even more that Mucuna offers. As you’ll see in the studies below, it boosts testosterone both directly, and indirectly.
When it comes to Mucuna’s benefits on T-levels, the first evidence comes from animal research. High doses of L-DOPA (1,000mg/kg) led to an activation of the pituitary gland in rats. This ultimately led to an increased luteinizing hormone and testosterone production. 
In another study, researches fed Japanese Quails birds with mucuna pruriens seed powder. The results were shocking. The birds’ luteinizing hormone levels surged, leading to a significant increase in testosterone levels. 
In a third animal study, scientist opted for a different approach. They injected a high dose of estrogen to male rodents, rendering them infertile and suppressing their testosterone. Then, they gave these rodents Mucuna Pruriens to see if it would negate the effects of estrogen – it did. 
Human Studies – Mucuna Pruriens and Testosterone
In the first human study, researchers examined mucuna’s effects on male stress hormones and their reproductive system. They gave 5g of Mucuna pruriens seed powder every day to two groups of men. One group suffered from stress-related infertility, while the other group consisted of healthy, non-infertile men.
In less than 90 days, both groups experienced a boost in their sperm volume. While the healthy group of men experienced a 32% increase, the infertile group saw their sperm volume skyrocket by 688%.
It’s obvious that with the healthy group of men, there was less room for improvement, while the infertile group benefited massively from Mucuna supplementation.
Furthermore, both groups experienced a major reduction in cortisol levels. The infertile group saw a staggering 110% reduction in cortisol, while the healthy male group experienced a 38% reduction.
How does all of this relate to testosterone?
Well, cortisol is a stress hormone which damages testosterone production. These two hormones negatively affect each other – when one goes up, the other drops down. The study from above showed us that Mucuna supplementation leads to lower cortisol levels, and thus, stronger testosterone. 
This study also tested two groups of men, one was healthy and the other infertile. However, unlike with the previous study, the purpose was to determine how mucuna affected testosterone directly.
The result: both groups experienced a major testosterone boost after 90 days of supplementation with 5g of Mucuna powder. Testosterone levels increased by 38% in infertile men and 27% in the healthy group.
Furthermore, luteinizing hormone shoot up by 41% in guys who had low sperm count and by 23% in healthy individuals.
Unsurprisingly, both groups also experienced significantly improved sperm quality (more so infertile men).
They also had reduced prolactin levels (a female hormone that counteracts LH) – it was reduced by 32% in the infertile group and 19% in healthy guys. 
A third human study tested 180 guys (infertile men once again) by giving them daily mucuna powder supplementation.
On average, their testosterone levels increased by 38%. 
This study tested L-DOPA’s effects on testosterone in men who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
The study featured two groups. One group received 600mg of L-DOPA daily, while the other group took a sugar pill.
The results were impressive, to say at least.
Subjects who took L-DOPA maintained and increased their free-testosterone levels. While the other group who took a placebo didn’t experience any benefits. 
Some of the most interesting studies regarding Mucuna pruriens and testosterone were done in test-tubes using isolated cells.
These studies showed how L-DOPA (the active component of Mucuna) activates androgen receptors and improves the uptake of testosterone and DHT (another powerful anabolic hormone).
Looking at all of the evidence from above, it’s clear Mucuna pruriens offers many benefits for the male hormone.
To sum it up:
Mucuna pruriens boosts testosterone both directly and indirectly. It reduces cortisol, a stress hormone that suppresses testosterone. Secondly, it directly stimulates the production of testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and other androgen hormones through different mechanisms. Last but not least, L-DOPA (the active component of Mucuna) upregulates androgen receptors leading to an improved utilization of anabolic hormones.
Other Key Benefits of Mucuna Pruriens
Helps Treat Depression, Anxiety, and Mood Swings
Since dopamine is essential for cognitive function and emotional well-being, it’s unsurprising that Mucuna Pruriens can boost your mood.
Dopamine is responsible for regulating various hormones along with calming the mind.
In a 2014, researchers looked at the benefits of Mucuna pruriens for anxiety in animals. The results showed significant reductions in anxiety and improvements in mood in subjects who were treated with Mucuna. 
But it isn’t just anxiety that Mucuna helps to get rid of.
It also helps to reduce stress and depressive symptoms in people where these issues are caused by low dopamine levels. By increasing the reward-molecule in your brain, it improves your mood and makes you feel calmer. 
If that’s the case, definitely avoid taking anything that boosts dopamine, including Mucuna. That’s because large doses of dopamine suppress serotonin production, which can be problematic if your serotonin levels are already low. [26, 27]
Enhances Sex Drive and Fertility
In a study with 120 males, researchers tested the effects of Mucuna on their libido and reproductive health. They divided these men into two groups.
The first group consisted of infertile men. On the other hand, the second group only consisted of healthy guys.
Both groups took 5 grams of Mucuna pruriens seed powder daily for 3 months.
At the end of the study, these men had significantly decreased cortisol levels, raised sperm count, and improved libido. 
Improves Focus, ADHD, And Memory
If you suffer from ADHD or lack of focus in general, mucuna might help you out.
These conditions are usually caused by a lack of dopamine. Prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall combat this by blocking the reuptake of dopamine.
This results in a higher concentration of dopamine levels in your nervous system – allowing you to stay focused and motivated.
Recent research shows that L-DOPA supplementation works similarly, but without side effects. Studies suggest that it helps boost memory and reaction time.
One study, in particular, showed the benefits of L-DOPA on cognitive function in adults. In the study, researchers gave 8 adults 200mg of synthetic L-DOPA before putting them on a visual test where they measured their reaction time.
Greatly improved reaction time in subjects who took 200mg of L-DOPA prior to the test. 
Furthermore, other research showed the benefits of L-DOPA on learning new words. One study divided participants into two grups, as usual.
One group took 100mg of L-DOPA before a study session, while the other group took a placebo. They repeated this for five study sessions in total.
Ultimately, the results showed that those who took L-DOPA, the active constituent of Mucuna pruriens, had a superior memory recall of new words.
The best of all, these positive effects lasted for a month before they started fading away. As stated by NCBI: “The levodopa group showed superior recall accuracy for new words over five learning sessions compared with the placebo group and better recognition accuracy at a 1-month follow-up for words learned with a semantic description.” 
When looking for any supplement, make sure to buy it from a trusted source. The same goes for Mucuna pruriens.
Ensure it comes in either high-quality powder (seeds), seed extract tablets, or capsules.
If buying an extract, look for the ones that contain at least 15% L-DOPA. This is an effective percentage.
How to dose?
Okay, you’re holding a Mucuna pruriens product in your hands, how much do you take?
If you’re taking it as a powder, take no more than 5g divided throughout the day. This is the dosage that’s been used for treating Parkinson’s, dopamine deficiency, and fertility. It’s also a perfect dosage for boosting testosterone.
If taking an extract, then 200-500mg per day will be more than enough. Don’t take more than 1,000mg if it’s an extract. Higher doses won’t provide you with any additional benefits and might cause unwanted side effects.
Should you cycle it?
Yes, it would be wise to cycle Mucuna pruriens on and off, in my opinion.
While the studies show it’s perfectly safe to use long-term, it’s still wise to take a break every few months to avoid developing a tolerance.
Stacking With Other Ingredients?
Mucuna pruriens can be stacked with other ingredients, depending on your goals.
If you’re looking to boost testosterone, here are some of the ingredients that will improve Mucuna’s impact on your T-levels:
- Ashwagandha – Another herb from Ayurveda which is known for its adaptogenic properties. It helps calm the mind, reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, and improve overall health. On top of that, studies show that it also increases testosterone.
- Vitamin D – A deficiency in this vitamin is linked to low testosterone, so better start supplementing with it if you aren’t getting enough sun.
- Boron – A trace mineral that’s shown to improve testosterone at dosages higher than 10mg per day.
- Fenugreek – Suppresses inflammation, controls blood sugar, and boosts testosterone. Take 500mg of the fenugreek extract per day to experience its benefits on the male hormone.
- Zinc – A mineral that’s essential for testosterone production. If you already consume enough zinc, then it will not push your T-levels much further. However, if you’re deficient, then supplementing with zinc will greatly ramp up your anabolic hormone. How will you know that you’re deficient? Since we lose zinc through sweat, athletes and people who perspire a lot have the highest risk of zinc deficiency.
- D-Aspartic Acid – It’s an amino acid that helps boost strength and anabolic activity in people with low testosterone. However, it doesn’t offer many benefits if your T-levels are already high.
Generally speaking, Mucuna pruriens is a safe nutrient.
However, since it contains L-DOPA, there are certain groups of people who should avoid taking it.
- Individuals with narrow eye glaucoma
- History of melanoma or undiagnosed skin conditions
- People who take MAO inhibitors
Mucuna pruriens is probably the best natural source of Levodopa (L-DOPA) on the planet.
That’s why many pharmaceutical companies use it to extract its valuable compounds and make prescription medicines.
There are a plenty of studies proving Mucuna’s positive benefits. It helps you to produce more dopamine, which in turn boosts your motivation, focus, and memory.
Mucuna pruriens also increases testosterone production and upregulates androgen receptors, allowing you to fully utilize anabolic hormones in your body.
With its relatively safe profile and amazing benefits, it’s certainly a nutrient worth looking out for.
References[showhide type=”links” more_text=”Show References” less_text=”Hide References”]
 Mucuna pruriens Reduces Stress and Improves the Quality of Semen in Infertile Men.  Distribution of L-DOPA in the root of velvet bean plant (Mucuna pruriens L.) and gravity.  Improvement of parkinsonian features correlates with high plasma levodopa values after broad bean (Vicia faba) consumption.  A water extract of Mucuna pruriens provides long-term amelioration of parkinsonism with reduced risk for dyskinesias.  Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson's disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study.  Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis.  Dopamine mediated the antidepressant effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds in various experimental models of depression.  Quantitative expression analysis and prognostic significance of L-DOPA decarboxylase in colorectal adenocarcinoma.  Dopamine as a prolactin (PRL) inhibitor.  Role of dopamine in the regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone in the male rat brain as studied by in situ hybridization.  Effect of L-dihydroxyphenylalanine upon serum growth hormone concentrations in children and adolescents.  Effect of chronic L-dopa administration on serum luteinizing hormone levels in male rats.  Mucuna pruriens seed powder feeding influences reproductive conditions and development in Japanese quail Coturnix coturnix japonica.  L-DOPA, the major constituent of Mucuna pruriens, Recovers Spermatogenic Loss by Combating ROS, Loss of Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and Apoptosis.  Mucuna pruriens Reduces Stress and Improves the Quality of Semen in Infertile Men.  A proton NMR study of the effect of Mucuna pruriens on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males.  Testosterone level and the effect of levodopa and agonists in early Parkinson disease: results from the INSPECT cohort.  Comprehensive expression analysis of L-dopa decarboxylase and established neuroendocrine markers in neoadjuvant hormone-treated versus varying Gleason grade prostate tumors.  Androgen-regulated genes differentially modulated by the androgen receptor coactivator L-dopa decarboxylase in human prostate cancer cells.  Evaluation of Anxiolytic Effect of Chronic Administration of Mucuna Pruriens In Wistar Albino Rats.  Dopamine mediated antidepressant effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds in various experimental models of depression.
 Dopamine and human information processing: a reaction-time analysis of the effect of levodopa in healthy subjects.  Levodopa enhances explicit new-word learning in healthy adults: a preliminary study.  What has serotonin to do with depression?  The neurobiology of depression—revisiting the serotonin hypothesis. II. Genetic, epigenetic and clinical studies†  Role of Serotonin and Dopamine System Interactions in the Neurobiology of Impulsive Aggression and its Comorbidity with other Clinical Disorders  Serotonin-dopamine interaction: electrophysiological evidence.[/showhide]