Velvet bean is an annual climbing vine that grows 3-18 m in height. It is indigenous to tropical regions, especially Africa, India,Myanmar, Bangladesh and the West Indies. Its flowers are white to dark purple and hang in long clusters. The plant also produces clusters of pods which contain seeds known as Mucuna beans. The seed pods are covered with reddish-orange hairs that are readily dislodged and can cause intense irritation to the skin. The species name “pruriens” (from the Latin, “itching sensation”) refers to the results to be had from contact with the seed pod hairs.
Mucuna is an annual twinning plant… Leaves are trifoliate, gray-silky beneath; petioles are long and silky, 6.3/1.3 cm. Leaflets are membranous, terminal leaflets are smaller, lateral very unequal sided. Dark purple flowers (6 to 30) occur in drooping racemes. Fruits are curved, for seeded. The longitudinally ribbed pod is densely covered with persistent pale-brown or Grey trichomes that cause irritating blisters. Seeds are black ovoid and 12 mm long.
Mucuna (Mucuna Pruriens), also known as velvet bean and cowitch, is an herb used as a minor food crop and medicinal bean in China, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, West Africa and Central America. It is widespread over most of the subcontinent and can be found in bushes, hedges and dry-deciduous.
The pods of the Mucuna have hair-like needles covering the outside. These hairs containmucunian and serotonin and can cause itching, blisters, and dermatitis. The hairs have been used in itching powder and mixed with honey to be used as vermifuge.
Composition and Application:
Mucuna pruriens (Velvet Bean) contains the very powerful neurotransmitter precursor L-Dopa. L-Dopa is precursor of the neurotransmitter Dopamine, an important brain chemical involved in mood, sexuality, and movement.
Mucuna pruriens Bak., Leguminosae, is one of the popular medicines of China and Indiaand is constituent of more than 200 indigenous drug formulations It is widespread over most of the subcontinent and is found in bushes and hedges and dry-deciduous, low forests throughout the plains of India. All parts of Mucuna posses valuable medicinal properties and there is a heavy demand of Mucuna in Indian drug markets. After the discovery that Mucuna seeds contain L-dopa, an anti-Parkinson disease drug, its demand in international market has increased many fold and demand has motivated Indian farmers to start commercial cultivation.
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