Surprising Health Benefits of Mucuna Pruriens (Velvet Beans) – Ben Cao Medical Book

1. Description

Mucuna pruriens (scientific name: Stizolobium capitatum (Sweet) O.Kuntze, also known as velvet bean, Chinese Pinyin: Li Dou, Simplified Chinese: 黎豆), is a species of annual, flowering, climbing, herbaceous shrub with tripinnate, ovate, reverse ovate, rhombus-shaped leaves and white, lavender, or purple flowers. Native to Africa and tropical Asia, the plant is in genus Mucuna in the bean family, Fabaceae, it can grow up to 15 m long. The seed of Mucuna pruriens is used as secretory and antitussive in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia.

Other names for the Mucuna pruriens include: Bengal velvet bean, Florida velvet bean, Mauritius velvet bean, Yokohama velvet bean, cowage, cowitch, lacuna bean, devil beans and Lyon bean.

Other simplified Chinese names for Mucuna pruriens include: 虎豆, 狸豆, 巴山虎豆, 鼠豆, 狸沙, 猎沙, 刺毛黧豆, 狗爪豆, 八升豆.

2. Odour, Properties And Channels

The seed of Mucuna pruriens is considered to have bitter, warm and sweet properties and to be associated with the lung and spleen meridians.

3. Uses, Health Benefits of Mucuna Pruriens & Medical Formulas

3.1 Parkinson’s Disease And Dystonia

Mucuna pruriens seeds contain about 3.1–6.1% L-DOPA, which can cross the protective blood–brain barrier, whereas dopamine itself cannot. Thus, L-DOPA is used to increase dopamine concentrations in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and dopamine-responsive dystonia.

3.2 Diabetes

A decoction of Mucuna pruriens seeds is taken orally to treat diabetes as well as cold related coughing.

3.3 Deficiency In Spleen And Stomach

A decoction of Mucuna pruriens seeds as well as some other herbs can be used to treat deficiency in spleen and stomach.

4. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions

Administration with caution for pregnant women.

Long term usage can cause negative consequences.

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The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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