What is L-Dopa
Mucuna Pruriens commonly known as velvet bean, contains a significant amount of naturally occurring L-dopa, an amino acid that converts into dopamine. Mucuna Pruriens has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for Parkinson Disease. In a randomized, controlled, double blind clinical trials, researchers has found that the natural source of L-dopa from Mucuna Pruriens possess advantages over conventional L-dopa preparations in the long term management of Parkinson Disease. Dopamine is an essential component of our body and it’s required for proper functioning of the brain.
Research has discovered that the body converts the amino acid tyrosine into L-dopa; L-dopa is then converted into dopamine. Without the neurotransmitter dopamine to serve a damping effect on neural transmissions, muscles become tense and tremble.
L-dopa may be useful for improving attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving sleep disorder. ADHD is a chronic, neurologically based syndrome characterized by restlessness, distractibility and impulsivity. Many patients with ADHD experience sleep disorder that may cause them to be inattentive and hyperactive due to sleep deprivation. According to a study released during the American Academy of Neurology, patients taking Levadopa showed marked improvement in their sleep disorder, behavior, and mental acuity. Researchers argue that there may be a common link — a dopaminergic deficiency in the brain that causes both the sleep disorders and the ADHD. Early pharmacological studies, published in 1927 and 1930 respectively, proved (in the rabbit) that L-dopa exerted significant effects on glucose metabolism (causing marked hyperglycemia) and on arterial blood pressure. Powdered Mucuna Pruriens seeds (contains 3-4% L Dopa) were given to normal and diabetic rabbits. In normal group 0.5, 1 and 2 g/kg of M. Pruriens significantly decreased the blood glucose levels while in diabetic rabbits only 1 and 2 g/kg body weight caused a significant fall. High levels of trace elements like manganese, zinc, and others were found in these seeds. Therefore, it is conceivable that M. Pruriens seeds contain hypoglycemic principles, may be both organic and mineral, which seem to act indirectly by stimulating the release of insulin and/or by a direct insulin-like action.
In 1977 issue of SCIENCE, researchers reported that L-dopa increased mean lifespans by up to 50% when fed to experimental rats at a dose of 40 to 80mg per gram of food. In a 1979 research, L-dopa almost totally reversed the slowness of motion and lack of coordination shown by aged rats (24 to 27 months). Aged rats could not swim well for more than a few minutes and their swimming lacked coordination compared to control young rats, and after several minutes they would repeatedly sink. All of these problems disappeared after treatment with L-Dopa. These research present strong evidence that regular treatment with L-Dopa could have anti-aging effects and therefore lead to greater vigor in the old.
A group of Urologist from Southern France used apomorphine (Dopamine activator) for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. When animals have probes implanted that let them self-stimulate the pleasure pathway [dorsal raphe - ventral tegmental area – nucleus accumbens (NA)/prefrontal cortex (PFC)], they will often stimulate dopamine release into the NA/PFC, rather than eat or sleep, until they starve to death. This provides a strong evidence that participation of dopaminergic system in the control of sexual function. Dopamine is a precursor to adrenaline. Dopaminergic networks are associated with “pleasure and movement centers” and are thought to control mood, motivation and reward. Many rewards and pleasures can ‘trip the dopamine pleasure switch’, including sex, food, hugging, kissing, etc. Experimental data suggest that the release of dopamine are present at all stages of sexual behavior in rodents. It is likely that dopamine can trigger penile erection by acting on oxytocinergic neurons located in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, and perhaps on the pro-erectile sacral parasympathetic nucleus within the spinal cord.
Mucuna Pruriens has also been popular among athletes as L- Dopa contains natural secretagogues which may support the body’s ability to stimulate the natural release of growth hormone. The blood carries the dopamine into the brain, where it naturally increases HGH production from the pituitary gland. Human Growth Hormone (HGH), or somatotropin, is a protein made up of 191 amino acids which is secreted by the pituitary gland and coordinates normal growth and development. Receptors which respond to hGH exist on cells and tissues throughout the body. The most obvious effect of HGH is on linear skeletal development. But the metabolic effects of hGH on muscle, the liver, and fat cells are critical to its function. The increased dopamine levels also optimize the production of other hormones, including testosterone, leading to increased sex drive and improved sexual performance for both men and women, beneficial in stimulating muscle growth, as well as burning fat from fat cells