Introducing – Velvet Bean: Herbal Alternative for Parkinson’s

Research shows that Velvet bean, a natural source of L-Dopa, improves the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

Mucuna pruriens, or Velvet bean, is an ancient herb that has received much attention in recent years because of its effectiveness in treating Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurological condition that affects millions, particularly with advancing age. Velvet bean’s active chemical ingredient is a natural form of dopamine, making it very specific for Parkinson’s disease, as well as for any disorder caused by insufficient levels of this critical neurotransmitter. Research has shown that when natural dopamine is chemically removed from the herb, Velvet bean is still effective against the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, indicating that the herb possesses multiple anti-Parkinsonian properties.

Velvet bean has been used as part of the traditional herbal treatment for Parkinson’s disease in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Empirical evidence gathered over this time strongly suggests that this treatment stops the progress of the disease by helping to regenerate the nervous system and arresting damage caused by free radicals. Herbal treatment has not been shown to reverse Parkinson’s disease, however.

Velvet Bean as an Herbal Alternative to L-Dopa

Due to the high concentration of naturally-occuring L-dopa in Velvet bean seeds, it has been studied intensively for its potential use in slowing the progress of Parkinson‘s, which is characterized by progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in specific areas in the brain. Dopamine does not cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore cannot be used directly as a treatment. However, L-dopa does gain access to the brain-where it is converted to dopamine.

In a clinical trial, the effects of Velvet bean were compared with standard doses of L-dopa in Parkinson’s patients. For this study, eight Parkinson‘s patients were treated with a short duration L-dopa response and completed a randomized, controlled, double blind crossover trial. Compared with standard treatment, the velvet bean preparation proved to have a significantly faster effect. The average onset was approximately 22% faster with a dose of 30 g of Velvet bean extract than that of the standard drug treatment.

Further Research on Velvet Bean and Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

In a second clinical study, the efficacy of a traditional Ayurvedic treatment including Velvet bean was studied in 18 clinically diagnosed Parkinson’s disease patients. Patients whose herbal therapy was accompanied by traditional Ayurvedic cleansing experienced significant improvements in their Parkinson’s disease symptoms, particularly in motor activities. These patients showed reductions in tremors, radykinesia, stiffness and cramps as compared to patients receiving herbal therapy alone.

This research indicates that the naturally-occurring L-dopa contained in Velvet bean may offer advantages over conventional L-dopa preparations in the long-term management of Parkinson’s disease. The necessity of combining such treatment with whole-body cleansing, such as that traditionally administered in Ayurveda, significantly enhances the effectiveness of the herbal treatment.