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Anyone take mucuna pruriens?

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So I was reading about the difference between serotonin and dopamine deficiencies (or abnormalities or whatever), and I'm pretty sure my symptoms match up with dopamine issues; I've had some addiction issues and my coping mechanism always seem to involve "rewarding" myself with something that makes me feel better physically... something to give me a "high", although I've never used drugs (mostly nicotine, alcohol but not in excess, the occasional painkiller--only if I had some leftover and not in excess doses); plus, SSRI's have never worked despite trying tons, and the only thing that's helped my mood is actually my adderall, which works on dopamine...


I just read about mucuna pruriens, which I'm surprised I've never heard of, but sounds like it works on dopamine in some way as well. I've read a few reviews but just wondering if anyone's found it helpful? I just bought some 5-HTP but didn't open it yet... while looking at info for that, it seems like it works similar to SSRI's, and the article mentioned mucuna pruriens and I thought maybe something like that was a better route.


Anyone tried it? Any side effects, dangers, interactions, etc.? I haven't found a ton of info on it.


FYI, my biggest issue is pretty severe depression. One doc has recently suggested my symptoms fall more towards the cyclothymia part of the spectrum, although I do take lamictal which helps with agitation.



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Return the 5-HTP, especially if you are debating a BP/cyclothymia. It may send you through the roof. I hadn't heard of mucuna pruriens, but it looks like it means "perverted mucuses." I looked it up, and it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. You latched onto the mention of dopamine, and threw out all the rest of the possibly very serious consequences. Ayurvedic medicine isn't practiced in psychiatry for a reason.


So far, it looks like it has been used in soil and rats, with passing references to Parkinsons. Not a glowing endorsement.


Supplements are not harmless just because they are theoretically "natural." Which I might point out is also the case for lithium. You wouldn't just pop lithium to see what happens, would you? You must not take anything more exotic than a daily multi-vitamin without consulting with your pdoc.

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If levadopa and other man-made forms of L DOPA were effective for treating depression, then they would be FDA approved for that purpose, and not used mainly for Parkinsons.  I don't see how mucuna pruriens would be any different.  Plus, the effects of long-term use of mucuna pruriens are unknown. 


If I were you, I would talk to your psychiatrist about your medication options, especially before trying to treat yourself with supplements.  Have you tried Abilify?  It is a partial dopamine agonist and can be very useful in treating depression for a lot of people.


ETA:  I used to be very into researching and trying supplements to treat my MI.  Admittedly, my view is more biased these days, since I have spent over $1000 on supplements over the last few years and find myself especially depressed lately.

Edited by lifequake
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Wow, I'm surprised at the very anti-supplement sentiments. Oh yes, I'm very aware that herbs/supplements etc. aren't safe just because they're "natural"; especially given that they're not regulated. I would never take something without doing whatever research I could... I've had mental health issues for 8 years and come across many, many supplements suggested for anxiety/depression, ADHD, etc., I was just surprised when I came across that one because I'd never heard of it in all my reading, so I was curious. 


If levadopa and other man-made forms of L DOPA were effective for treating depression, then they would be FDA approved for that purpose, and not used mainly for Parkinsons.



I would definitely have to disagree with that. Off-label use is extremely common, and given the cost of studies for FDA approval, I doubt most drug companies will bother pressing for all common uses to be FDA approved when doctors are free to prescribe them as they will (generally backed up with studies and research, hopefully, just not the FDA approval process). And certainly many FDA-approved prescription medications are natural compounds/chemicals; antibiotics are by definition natural compounds produced by microorganisms.


I take lamictal for depression although it's only FDA approved for seizures and bipolar I. Same case for Wellbutrin and ADHD.


You latched onto the mention of dopamine, and threw out all the rest of the possibly very serious consequences.



I was curious about dopamine because in my years of trials with medications for depression, anxiety and ADHD, I've done tons and tons of research (much from peer-reviewed journals and plenty anecdotal information, much of it from doctors). When I research my symptoms, a connection to dopamine always seems to pop up, but there's much less data on its role in depression compared to the data on serotonin--although it seems there's more and more a call for more research on it.


I've definitely come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what your official diagnosis is--after all, obviously medications work differently for different people. It's always trial and error; if an anti-seizure medication treats your mood disorder when mood-stabilizers don't, so what (assuming its safe)? What I know from the medications I've tried... no SSRI has ever helped my depression; the only medication that HAS helped, though not nearly enough, is adderall (prescribed for ADHD). And that works on dopamine.


There's many, many other reasons I feel like my symptoms are related to dopamine instead of serotonin... but most of all, I've struggled through many years of depression and many medications that haven't worked. And unfortunately, many psychiatrists who didn't listen to my concerns, barely evaluated my symptoms, and three who gave up on me completely after they "exhausted all the options." So although I won't give up hope, it's hard to put a lot of faith in psychiatrists as the end-all be-all authority of what medication might be effective.


I'm in no way anti-medication or all about "natural" remedies, quite the opposite in general. I think they're much the same... Lots of prescription medications have scary side effects, interactions, or just plain don't work for people, which is true for many supplements as well. I agree that supplements have far fewer regulations, but many have been studied long enough to provide almost as much data as prescription meds. But that's precisely why I wanted more information from people about mucuna pruriens... I hadn't heard of it. I wouldn't worry much about trying something like SAM-e or St. John's Wort or valerian root, but I wouldn't just take any old herb without as much info as possible.


Sorry, rambling a bit... I'm doing whatever research I can, but just curious what others experience might have been, as a part of the whole story.

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Do. not. take. supplements. without. telling. your. pdoc. Many of them are bogus and unregulated. Don't you think a company would be thrilled to pass double blind studies, and be approve by the FDA? How much more money would that make them? Tons.


A lot of supplements directly interact with medications. St. John's Wort is particularly notorious.


Dopamine is not some kind of candy compound you can take to cure psychiatric symptoms. Neurotransmitters are just a wee bit more complex than finding a supplement that claims to affect dopamine or seratonin.


And before you assume I object to supplements across the board, let me tell you my cocktail, prescribed by pain doctor for treatment resistant migraine per day: 800mg magnesium, 24mg of green coffee beam extract, Vitamin D3 (1000mg/day), 400mg of Riboflavin (B2), And 300mg of Co-Q10. Daily. But not only was this "prescribed" by the ndoc, I already had read peer-reviewed double-blind studies (on Pubmed, not random doctors) touting the benefits of large doses of Vitamin D3, so I was excited to try it.


And this does not include the Verapamil, Midrin, Metoclopramide, and Flexeril, which are actually meds that require scripts. OR, my psych meds.


My DR. *told* me to take these meds and supplements, while also keeping under consideration the other meds I take for other conditions.


Supplements are not inherently evil across the board, but starting them without checking with your DR. is unwise, at best. And some members who tried 5-HTP went through the roof when they took it. Can you see that it might be better to talk with your pdoc by phone or email, rather than to end up inpatient?

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Yikes... I apologize if I sounded contrary or adversarial, that wasn't my intention... I'm not sure why I always seem to make people angry on forums :(


I don't think I said I was taking it or planning on taking it, at least not without asking a doctor about it. I was just curious about it, possibly as a helpful supplement, but also simply intellectual curiosity. I studied biochemistry and have always found neuroscience fascinating. Obviously the chemistry of the brain is still very much a "black box" and most of what's known is based on treatment outcomes as opposed to mechanisms of action--so there's a lot to learn and many things that haven't been researched yet, some of which could be potentially helpful.


I'm pretty sure I've never tried a supplement (excepting multivitamins and vitamin C or something) without asking about it or being told to take it by my doctors. I take fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, magnesium, iron, vitamin C... ha, feel like I'm missing one. All recommended by my doctor.


Don't you think a company would be thrilled to pass double blind studies, and be approve by the FDA? How much more money would that make them? Tons.


That's an excellent question. I looked into it a little, but I couldn't find straightforward information about the process... I agree manufacturers could stand to make a lot of money from a beneficial supplement. From what I found, Lipitor generate $12 billion annuall; OTC cough medicines pull in $4 billion, still respectable. The FDA approval process is extremely expensive for the pharmaceutical companies, so I would guess smaller companies producing supplements may not be able to justify the money for the studies, although could be they know it wouldn't turn out to be a wonder drug. And if it ended up being a prescription medication, even at insane brand-name prices, it's then much harder to access. So maybe skipping the expensive studies, popping it on the shelf at every grocery store where anyone's free to buy it, even at a fraction of the cost of a prescription med, may be more profitable, or at least "good enough" for manufacturers.


All of that btw is TOTAL speculation on my part. I have no idea if that's the case, just some thoughts off the top of my head.


Still, I'm curious about how a natural/herbal compound gets classified as a dietary supplement or drug... things like aspirin or penicillin, derived from natural sources... probably not good examples since they've been around so long. Maybe they're all considered supplements until it shows up on a pharmaceutical company's or the FDA's radar? Who knows!


Okay, sorry, rambling again :-P

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