Mucuna Miracle Bean: Natural Cure for ADHD
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE.
Many parents are frustrated with the side effects of ADHD medications and the fact that these medications rarely work at home, during after school hours to help children focus and balance their emotions. As such, we get a lot of questions about herbal cures for ADHD. The fact is, there is an excellent herbal cure for ADHD that works very reliably: Mucuna pruriens. But few parents know about Mucuna and they’re mystified about this natural plant-medicine for ADHD once they set out to do their own research into Mucuna. A Google search inevitably leads parents into the labyrinth of L-Dopa, a topic that has been thoroughly muddled by the fact that Big Pharma named a synthetic drug “Levodopa / L-Dopa”. Disentangling information about natural L-Dopa from synthetic L-Dopa is a project that can only be done by someone with a bit of free time on their hands or a degree in biology or medicine. And then, because natural, biologically produced L-Dopa performs many functions in the body, it takes time for a person (like me) to write about Mucuna pruriens and its natural L-Dopa content in terms of each disease / symptom that it can treat.
What is Mucuna pruriens?
Mucuna pruriens is the Latin name for velvet bean, a food-plant that is consumed as a staple in some communities in Central America and Asia. Mucuna is used regularly in Latin American countries as a coffee alternative. In Asia, it is used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Mucuna contains higher quantities of L-Dopa than other types of beans. Fava beans, however, are another common type of bean that contain L-Dopa in noticeable quantities. The L-Dopa found in these bean plants is natural L-Dopa.
Vitamins and Minerals That Help Convert L-Dopa into Dopamine in the Brain
In order for the L-Dopa in Mucuna pruriens to convert into dopamine in the brain, certain vitamins and minerals must be present in the body in sufficient quantities for the conversion to take place. These vitamins include:
- Vitamin B6 – 25 mg per day (child); 100 mg per day (adult)
- Magnesium – 200-300 mg per day (child), 300-600 mg per day (adult)
- Zinc – 20 mg per day (child); 50 mg per day (adult)
In addition to the above vitamins and minerals for ADHD, research has shown that both adults and children respond to treatment with the following nutrients as part of a protocol that works very well to overcome hyperactivity and lack of focus:
- Elemental Iron – 21 mg per day (child); 45 mg per day (adult)
- Fat-soluble vitamins and Omega 3’s / Cod Liver Oil – 1 teaspoon per day in both children; 1 Tablespoon per day in adults
- Multivitamin for Kids that doesn’t contain sugar or other preservatives that worsen ADHD symptoms
Mucuna pruriens: Other Medicinal Benefits
We often recommend Mucuna pruriens to ADHD kids and adults because this bean has a lot to offer in terms of medicinal benefits. These benefits include:
- The natural L-Dopa in Mucuna has been shown to have anti-tumor effects. Doctors have noted anecdotally that patients with melanoma have a reduction in tumor size when taking L-Dopa / Mucuna.
- L-Dopa is a very gentle anti-parasitic medicine which means that it can help kids overcome a parasite infection that can disrupt sleep and cause poor nutrient absorption.
- Natural L-Dopa is an anti-depressant as well as an anti-anxiety medicine.
- Natural L-Dopa can “immunize” children against addiction. In other words, a child who is regularly taking Mucuna pruriens / natural L-Dopa is unlikely to find methamphetamines or other drugs that cause a strong a dopamine release to be pleasurable.
- The natural L-Dopa in Mucuna can boost fertility and libido in adult men. In women, natural L-Dopa also boosts fertility but Mucuna and natural L-Dopa can act as a mild contraceptive when it is taken daily during the week prior to and after conception. A woman who wishes to boost fertility to using L-Dopa should take Mucuna up until the end of their period and then stop taking it while trying to conceive.
- Mucuna pruriens is a natural anti-Parkinson’s medicine.
What is the difference between synthetic, pharmaceutical Levodopa / L-Dopa and the Levodopa / L-Dopa in Mucuna pruriens?
Anyone who attempts to research Mucuna pruriens and natural L-Dopa online will quickly find that the surface information is muddled and extremely confusing. Less confusing, however, are certain facts about pharmaceuticals in general, so I’ll talk about these facts to give readers a better understanding of how the natural L-Dopa in Mucuna pruriens is different from the synthetic L-Dopa in the pharmaceutical agent known as “Levodopa”.
In order to make big profits, Big Pharma must patent their medications and surgical devices (surgeries themselves are not patentable). It isn’t legal for a corporation to try to patent a naturally occurring thing. If a substance, molecule, plant, or “thing” occurs naturally in the world, it cannot be patented.
Patents give a corporation the right to market a product exclusively for about 7 years. Then, at the end of the patentable time frame, the synthetic item can be reproduced by other corporations and sold competitively in the market place. So Big Pharma and other corporations often produce an item, like a drug with the idea that within 7 years, they must produce a new “derivative” of the same thing that they’ll then market to consumers as something that’s “better” than what they produced in the past.
So, a naturally occurring molecule like L-Dopa in Mucuna pruriens, isn’t patentable unless Big Pharma takes it into the laboratory and modifies the molecule just a little bit. No matter what, in order for a molecule like L-Dopa to be profitable and patentable as a prescription medicine, Big Pharma has to make some kind of minor change in the molecule. And this change must result in a “synthetic” final product that doesn’t occur anywhere in nature. Thus the designation “synthetic”.
In order to create a “brand” around a pharmaceutical product, Big Pharma must create a product that is synthetic. And the “minor” changes that they make to the naturally-occuring molecules that become synthetic “drugs” often cause damage inside the human body. An excellent example is vitamin A. Most people know that our bodies need vitamins. In fact, the definition of a vitamin is that it is a substance that our bodies need in order to survive and function properly. Vitamins have a particular molecular shape and a very specific chemical make-up that makes it possible for them to work with the human body in a healthy way. If the molecular make-up or structure of a vitamin is modified such that it no longer has a natural shape or chemical make-up, it becomes damaging to the body. The body may initially be fooled into thinking that this vitamin is the real thing, but if the vitamin has been synthetically modified, it will eventually cause damage to the body.
Despite the fact that this problem of synthetic, modified molecules in the body can cause damage, all of the medicines that are marketed through Big Pharma are synthetic. Some of them cause a lot of damage, some of them cause only a little bit of damage. In some cases, the damage becomes apparent immediately, but in other cases, it takes years to see the damage.
It’s important to understand that in the early days of Big Pharma, synthetic, modified molecules made it possible for Big Pharma to regularize medicines, the dosing, and the proper schedule for taking each dose. And that still today, there are some situations wherein it makes sense to use synthetically modified molecules with medicinal effects.
Unfortunately, however, synthetic Levodopa / L-Dopa can cause a variety of bad side effects like impulsive behavior and a worsening of the very symptoms that it’s supposed to treat. In contrast, the natural Levodopa / L-Dopa in beans like Mucuna pruriens and fava beans does not cause these side effects. Indeed, the natural Levodopa / L-Dopa produced by the body via the natural biochemical pathways that start with L-Phenylalanine or L-Tyrosine, quells impulsivity and reduces ADHD symptoms. While the synthetic Levodopa sold as a prescription medication by Big Pharma eventually causes a breakdown of dopamine receptors, natural Levodopa in Mucuna actually promotes healing of dopamine receptors that have been damaged.
You see, having adequate levels of dopamine in the brain is like being fully charged in regard to decision-making “fuel”. On the other hand, when a person is deficient in dopamine, they feel desperate. Biochemically, the feeling of desperation can be viewed as a dopamine deficiency. If you consume caffeine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, methylphenidate, dexmethylphenidate, or any other drug that pushes dopamine out of neurons into the synapse while your neurons are deficient in dopamine, you would feel “wired” or “strung out” instead of feeling more awake or better able to think.
If you have enough dopamine in your neurons and you consume caffeine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, methylphenidate, dexmethylphenidate, or any other drug that pushes dopamine out of neurons into the synapse, you might feel more awake, but because your brain is fully charged on dopamine, the release of dopamine into the synapse by a substance like caffeine, meth, or Ritalin wouldn’t be regarded by your brain as a major event. A brain that has sufficient dopamine levels is constantly receiving dopamine “hits” from normal, everyday activities and engagement with the world. Unnatural dopamine hits, even like those that come from “likes” on social media start to show their true colors to a brain that has enough natural dopamine because natural dopamine is a decision-making, discernment neurotransmitter. It’s function in our brain is to notice rewards and punishments. A person who has sufficient dopamine levels is discerning and can notice that social media has limitations. A person who has sufficient dopamine levels eventually becomes bored with video games and gambling. This is why Mucuna pruriens is able to help people overcome addictions without itself being addictive. The bean recharges our natural L-Dopa levels so that dopamine can be manufactured on an as-needed basis. Extra L-Dopa can be discarded easily from the body. And once dopamine levels are adequately recharged for at least 5 months so that damaged dopamine receptors can heal under the influence of balanced levels of natural dopamine in the synaptic cleft, people develop the ability to make healthy decisions on the basis of real experience.
In summary, a deficiency of dopamine leads to a cycle of desperation, impulsivity, and addictive and/or repetitive behaviors, that can only be halted by the presence of natural L-Dopa and a corresponding presence of dopamine that can be released on a regular basis from the neuron into the synapse.
Is Mucuna pruriens addictive?
Many people are under the mistaken impression that dopamine is addictive or perhaps rather that dopamine hits are addictive. Actually, it’s not the dopamine hit itself that’s addictive. If dopamine is available in the brain on a regular, ongoing basis. Dopamine hits only become addictive when the brain is deficient in dopamine.
Dopamine deficiency in the brain causes people to develop a sense of desperation for dopamine hits. But if you make sure that your brain and body have the necessary materials to make plenty of dopamine each day, you won’t develop a sense of desperation that leads to addictive or repetitive behaviors.
Drugs like methamphetamines can be addictive if a person take meth when they are deficient in dopamine. When a person has a mild dopamine deficiency in the brain, meth will cause a what the brain perceives to be a “massive” dopamine release into the synaptic cleft. Once that first dopamine hit happens, which is likely the release of a very normal amount of dopamine, the person feels desperate for another hit of dopamine. Often, people who are addicted to a substance like sugar, for example, they feel desperate for sugar (a dopamine hit) and can’t make a decision on their own behalf against eating sugar. Then after they indulge in the sugary treat, their brain suddenly has the dopamine decision-making fuel and they feel guilt because they know that the sugar is bad for them. Until an addict has plenty of natural L-Dopa and dopamine in their brain at all times, they won’t be able to overcome their addiction.
Supplementation with Mucuna pruriens and natural L-dopa can protect ADHD children from addiction. Though it takes about 5 months for the brain to regrow damaged dopamine receptors, children with ADHD who begin taking Mucuna pruriens with the other vitamins and minerals that support the conversion from L-Dopa to dopamine, are less likely to become addicted to video games, social media, smart phones, drugs, and even sugar.
How to Choose a Mucuna pruriens / L-Dopa Product to Treat ADHD Naturally
There are several natural L-Dopa products on the market to choose from. Personally, I prefer Mucuna products that contain the whole plant material particularly for the natural treatment of ADHD in kids. However, some adults with ADHD who have been addicted to amphetamines or other prescription drugs for more than a year should consider taking a natural L-Dopa product with a standardized L-Dopa content.
Mucuna pruriens Dosing for ADHD
As a bean, Mucuna can be added to food and it generally isn’t necessary to “dose” it when it is used this way. It is, after all, a staple food like corn or wheat for whole communities in Central America. However, if you’re administering Mucuna to a child with ADHD, I recommend putting 1-2 tablespoons of honey in a small cup and mixing ½ to 1 tablespoon of Mucuna into the honey along with magnesium drops or powder (100-200 mg in kids twice daily; 200-300 mg in adults twice daily), zinc drops (10 mg in kids twice daily; 20 mg in adults twice daily), and vitamin B6 (25 mg daily in kids; 50-100 mg per day in adults once daily). The Mucuna should be administered 4 times daily. CBD can also be added to this honey mixture. Indeed, if you use a small condiment cup to mix Mucuna and these vitamins together, the child can self-administer the honey to themselves at lunchtime as a healthy boost.
A child with ADHD should also receive 21 mg of iron once daily and one teaspoon of either Cod Liver Oil or an omega 3/omega 6 supplement.
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Adults can take capsules of Mucuna with vitamins. Natural treatment for adults with ADHD starts at 6000 mg daily of Mucuna taken in 4 divided doses (1500 mg each). Adults should also take a vitamin B6. Taking vitamin B complex that contains vitamin B6 in high enough doses is more nutritionally complete than taking just vitamin B6 for adults. I recommend a vitamin B-100 product for adults with ADHD along with magnesium (300-600 mg daily in divided doses), zinc (40 mg taken once per day or 20 mg twice daily), and iron (21-45 mg taken once per day).
Adults should also take 1 tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil daily or an omega 3 / omega 6 supplement.
Other Important Links:
Kamkaen, N. et al. (2022). Mucuna pruriens Seed Aqueous Extract Improved Neuroprotective and Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitory Effects Compared with Synthetic L-Dopa. Retrieved September 22, 2022 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35630617/