Mucuna pruriens, also known as kapikachu, velvet bean, cowitch or cowhage, is a flowering vine in the legume family native to India. This plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to cure a variety of ailments.
Treating Parkinson's Disease
According to the Purdue University Horticulture Department, the seeds of the Mucuna pruriens vine, which are encased in fuzzy pods, contain L-DoPA. L-DoPA is used to treat Parkinson's disease, a degenerative nerve disorder.
In his book "Medicinal Plants: Chemistry and Properties," Dr. M. Daniel asserts that the pods contain 5-hydroxytryptamine, or serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or a substance that relays signals in the brain. It is essential to the regulation of sleep cycles and moods.
In an article published in the spring 2009 edition of the "Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism," Tessa Finney-Brown reports a study conducted at Bishop Heber College in Tamil Nadu regarding the effects of Mucuna pruriens on rats. The researchers concluded that Mucuna pruriens had a "significant impact" on lowering the blood sugar levels in the test subjects. Mucuna pruriens may be found useful in treating patients suffering from diabetes.
In his book "Medicinal Plants: Chemistry and Properties," Dr. M. Daniel relates that the seeds of the velvet bean plant are traditionally consumed to promote sexual desire as well as enhance sperm count in males. According to Victor R. Preedy in his book "Botanical Medicine in Clinical Practice," this plant possesses aphrodisiac properties.