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Ayurvedic Herbs A-Z

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Ayurvedic Medicine


Mucuna pruriens





Latin Names

English Names

Sanskrit Names

Hindi Names

Mucuna pruriens
Baker non DC.
Mucuna prurita
Hook. (Fabaceae)

Cow-Itch Plant,


Kaunch, Kevanch



 Habitat  |  Morphology Description (Habit)  |  Principal Constituents  |  Pharmacology  |  Clinical Studies

Toxicity  | Indications  |   Product Range  |  References




It grows all over India and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Morphology Description (Habit)

M.pruriens is an herbaceous twining annual. The leaves are trifoliolate; the leaflets, broadly ovate, elliptic or rhomboid ovate and unequal at the base; the flowers, purple and in axillary, pendulous racemes; the pods, curved, longitudinally ribbed, turgid and densely clothed with persistent pale brown or grey, irritant bristles; the seeds, black, 4-6 in a pod and ovoid.

Principal Constituents

M.prurita has been found to contain L-DOPA, 40mg/g of the plant1. The plant/seeds contain the bioactive alkaloids mucunine, mucunadine, mucuadinine, pruriendine and nicotine, besides ▀-sitosterol, glutathione, lecithin, oils, venolic and gallic acids. The seeds with seed coat showed the presence of a number of bioactive subtances including tryptamine, alkylamines, steroids, flavonoids, coumarins, cardenolides, etc2.


The total alkaloids from seeds of M.pruriens comprising 5 alkaloidal bases were found to bring about a note-worthy increase in the population of spermatozoa and in the weights of body testes, seminal vesicles and prostrate of the treated rats. The exhibited activity was found to stimulate testosterone-enanthate induced androgenic activity observed in another set of treated individuals3.
Lower dose corresponding to the clinical dose significantly decreased the sleeping time, increased the motor activity and gave equivocal results in rotarod test in experimental animals. The high dose (3 times the clinical dose) significantly increased the sleeping time, decreased the motor activity and reduced the time for falling from the rod. Thus the drug possesses CNS stimulant effect at low doses and CNS depressant effect at high doses4 .
A seed diet produced a hypoglycemic effect in normal rats, however, such a diet had an insignificant effect on alloxan- treated rats5.

Clinical Studies

In 15 psychiatric patients, M.pruriens (15 g of of crude seed powder was found to significantly inhibit the prolactin response to chlorpromazine injection, as effectively as 0.5 g of L-dopa). No side effects were observed in these patients6.
Sixty patients with Parkinson's disease were treated with M.pruriens in an open study for 12 weeks. Statistically significant reductions in Hoehn and Unified Parkinson's disease rating scale scores were seen form baseline to the end of 12 week treatment7.


Adverse effects were mild and were mainly gastro-intestinal in nature. No adverse effects were seen in clinical laboratory reports (Ibid, 1995).


L-DOPA is a neurotransmitter precursor, an effective drug for relief in Parkinson's disease. The seed is a prophylactic against oligospermia, useful in increasing sperm count, ovulation in women, etc. It prevents male and female sterility and acts as a nervine tonic.

Product Range



1.       Parikh et. al., Indian Drugs, 1990, 27, 353; Chem Abstr, 1993, 119, 234161, 245571.

2.       Sinha, J Res Educ Indian Med, 1992, 11(1), 15; Goyal, J Econ Taxon Bot, 1991, 15, 677.

3.       Saksena, S. and Dixit, V.K., Ind. J. Nat. Prod, 1987, 3(1), 3-7.

4.       Ahmad, S., et. al., Conference of Pharmacology and Symposium on Herbal Drugs (New Delhi), March 1991, 15, 26.

5.       Parikh et. al., Indian Drugs, 1990, 27, 353; Gopal, J Econ Taxon Bot, 1991, 15, 677; Handa et. al., Fitoterapia, 1989, 60, 210.

6.       Vaidya, R. A., Neurology (India), 1978, 26, 177.

7.       Manyam B.V. 1995, J. Altern. Completment Med. Fall. 1(3): 249-255.


Part: Seed Powder Traditional Ayurvedic Uses: general weakness Parkinson's disease, hypercholesterolemia, nervous disorders.

Seeds contain L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) which is a neurotransmitter deficient in parkinsonism. Sushruta mentions these seeds as a virilifier.

  • counteract heart palpitations
  • correct spermatorrhea and nocturnal emissions
  • counteract dryness
  • improves the immune system
  • prevent hair loss
  • prevent muscle cramps
  • strengthen the bones
  • counteract premature aging
  • slow the aging process
  • help with Tuberculosis
  • improve male incontinence
  • reverse Parkinson's disease
  • invigorate and strengthen the body
  • feed and rejuvenate the reproductive organs
  • increase the production of semen and thicken it
  • improve endurance
  • correct infertility
  • help produce healthier children
  • counteract impotency
  • strengthen the kidneys
  • counteract fatigue, tiredness and nervousness 
  • increases sperm count 
  • naturally increases penis size

Kapikachu is Ayurveda's strongest herb for correcting impotency. It is very little known in the west however Ayurvedic physicians swear it is the best herbal aphrodisiac there is.

Aphrodisiacs (Vajikarana) A third kind of tonic herb, closely allied with Rasayanas, is what is called in Ayurveda - Vajikarana. A vaji is a horse or stallion. These are substances that give the power or vitality of a horse, particularly the horse's great capacity for sexual activity. More commonly, one could call them "aphrodisiacs". though they are much more than superstitious love potions. Vajikaranas reinvigorate the body by reinvigorating the sexual organs. The semen or reproductive tissue (the Ayurvedic concept includes both male and female reproductive tissues) is the essence of all the dhatus, the cream of all the tissue elements in the body. It contains the power to create life. This means not only the capacity to bring a new life into existence, to create a child, but also to renew one's one life, to return our cells to the vigor of youth.

The same life-creating energy, if directed inwards, can aid in the renewal of both body and mind. Vajikarana substances may be used either to improve sexual vitality and functioning, or to help direct sexual energy inwards for regeneration. Most of these are not simple aphrodisiacs - substances exciting sexual activity through irritation of the sexual organs. Many are tonics that actually nurture and give direct sustenance to the reproductive tissues. Others help promote the creative transformation of sexual energy for the benefit of the body-mind. By starting in the reproductive system, these herbs invigorate the entire system, just as a tree is invigorated from the roots. They have a strong revitalisation action on the nerves and bone marrow, and increase the energy of the mind. Semen is the Soma of the body, which if catalyzed in the right way, by Rasayana and Vajikarana substances, brings about the renewal of the mind. In a similar way it helps strengthen the bones, muscles, ligaments and blood. Vajikaranas can be divided into tonics and stimulants.

Stimulants increase the functional activity of the reproductive organs, while tonics increase and improve the tissue-substance that composes them. KapiKachu Rasayana is made from these two categories. Many aphrodisiacs increase Kapha; some which are hot and pungent ones increase Pitta. Ayurveda also discriminates those herbs that enhance spermatogenesis, called Shukrala. These are substances that are nutritive tonics to the reproductive secretions, like semen and breast milk. They are mainly those Vajikaranas which are nutritive. Those aphrodisiacs whose nature is sattvic, and are strong in energy, also enhance Ojas. Such substances include Ashwagandha, ghee, and Shatavari and others.

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