Velvet Bean – Macuna Pruriens

Velvet Bean – Macuna Pruriens

Velvet Bean – can help you feel happier, more positive minded and motivated about life. A great addition to Vitamin D to help with the winter blues.
MUCUNA PRURIENS

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In North America and parts of Europe, Velvet Bean is also being used for the treatment of Parkinson disease.
What is It?
Velvet Bean, also called Macuna, is a legume from Africa and Asia. It is a shrub with climbing vines which reach 15 meters in length. It has been used for centuries by traditional systems of medicine and in Ayurvedic medicine.Different parts of the herb are used for many conditions ranging from scorpion bites to erectile dysfunction. However the main use in northern hemisphere countries is for symptoms of depression.
What is it Used For?
Velvet Bean has many traditional medicinal usages including: treating paininfertility, scorpion bites, snakebites, toothaches, low testosteroneinflammationlow libidoparasites, muscle spasms, stresshigh blood sugar, fever, and high cholesterol.Different countries use it for various ailments. For instance, Germany uses Velvet Bean for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, intestinal gasmuscle pain, rheumatism, and intestinal worms. Brazil uses it for as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, for stress, edema, and intestinal worms. India uses it for cancer, cholera, cough, debility, delirium, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, edema, fertility, gout, impotency, kidney stones, menstrual disorders, nervousness, scorpion stings, snakebites, infertility, tuberculosis, intestinal worms, as an aphrodisiac and uterine stimulant. Clearly this herb is a useful and versatile medicine. Depression is another application for Velvet Bean. In North America treating depression is one of the main uses for Velvet Bean. Depression has become a major concern in North America over the last 20 years. Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed medications by MDs. There are many causes for depression including a lack of day time light (known as Seasonal Effective Disorder), poor sleep, emotional trauma, stress, chronic pain, substance abuse, hormonal disruption, nutritional deficiencies and even food sensitivities.Symptoms of depression range in severity and in combination of symptoms from person to person. Symptoms can include: fatigue, an increase or decrease in sleep, loss of ability to function in daily activities, anxiety, foggy thinking, irritability, anger, weepiness, pain, and reclusiveness.

 In North America and parts of Europe, Velvet Bean is also being used for its L-Dopa content for the treatment of Parkinson disease. Parkinson’s disease is believed to be related to low levels of Dopamine in certain parts of the brain. Once L-Dopa, from Velvet Bean, has crossed from the bloodstream into the brain, it is converted into the neurotransmitter Dopamine. The resulting increase in Dopamine concentrations in the brain is thought to improve nerve conduction and to assist in lessening the movement disorders in Parkinson’s disease.

Another common application for the use of Velvet Bean is for the treatment of Diabetes. Numerous laboratory studies have been conducted on the blood sugar lowering effect of Velvet Bean. These studies consistently demonstrated that Velvet Bean can effectively lower blood sugar levels. An extract of Velvet Bean decreased blood sugar levels in rats by more than 30% and 50% after four months.

How Does it Work?

Velvet Bean naturally contains phytochemicals that make specific neurotransmitters in your brain which results in a feeling of relaxation, clear thinking and joy.

Specifically, Velvet Bean contains small amounts of Serotonin which increase your levels of naturally generated serotonin. Serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters in your brain responsible for happiness. Velvet Bean also contains L-Dopa which goes into making a brain neurotransmitter called Dopamine. In addition to Dopamine being helpful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease it also helps promote enjoyment and interest in life. This is helpful for those suffering from depression. 

Dopamine is widespread in the brain as well as the rest of the nervous system. This neurotransmitter plays a critical role in the control of movement. It has a stimulating effect on the heart, the circulation, the rate of metabolism, and is able to stimulate the body’s energy reserves. It helps to balance brain activity, control coordination and movement, and regulate the flow of information to different areas of the brain.

When you have a lack of Dopamine you feel a lack of pleasure, inability to feel love, lack of remorse for your actions, difficulty focusing and a dislike of others.

When you have sufficient Dopamine you have feelings of pleasure, joy, attachment and love, concern and empathy of others and your thoughts and emotions are integrated and healthy. Research shows that Dopamine is just as important as Serotonin to have a sense of happiness and fulfilment in your life.

How it works to reduce blood sugar is a little different than how it acts to help depression and Parkinson’s. Mainly it works on the liver of diabetics. When looking at liver enzymes involved in sugar or carbohydrate metabolism, one study using diabetic rats found that the normal suppression of an enzyme called Glucokinase associated with diabetes was partially reversed with Velvet Bean. Glucokinase is found in lower amounts in diabetics and is associated with normal sugar metabolism. In diabetics it can be decreased by up to 78.08%. But with the administration of Velvet Bean, Glucokinase was increased by 23.96%. Studies show a similar increase in other enzymes involved with sugar metabolism namely Hexokinase and Glucose-6-phosphatase. It is thought that the part of Velvet Bean that is responsible for these effects is called D-Chiro Inositol.

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VELVET BEAN QUICK FACTS

SOURCES Velvet Bean – Macuna
APPLICATIONS Depression, Parkinson’s, High blood sugar
DOSAGE 1 – 2 TBSP of Velvet Bean Powder

WORKS WELL WITH

St John’s Wort and Vitamin D3 for Depression, Cinnamon, Bitter Melon, Chromium for Diabetes
IMPORTANT INFORMATION Generally found in seed form. A great addition to a health shake.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products.

Source: Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.) (National nutrition.ca)

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