Mucuna pruriens for Parkinson's disease: Low-cost preparation method, laboratory measures and pharmacokinetics profile

J Neurol Sci. 2016 Jun 15:365:175-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2016.04.001. Epub 2016 Apr 16.


Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological condition. Levodopa (LD) is the gold standard therapy for PD patients. Most PD patients in low-income areas cannot afford long-term daily Levodopa therapy. The aim of our study was to investigate if Mucuna pruriens (MP), a legume with high LD content that grows in tropical regions worldwide, might be potential alternative for poor PD patients.

Methods: We analyzed 25 samples of MP from Africa, Latin America and Asia. We measured the content in LD in various MP preparations (dried, roasted, boiled). LD pharmacokinetics and motor response were recorded in four PD patients, comparing MP vs. LD+Dopa-Decarboxylase Inhibitor (DDCI) formulations.

Results: Median LD concentration in dried MP seeds was 5.29%; similar results were obtained in roasted powder samples (5.3%), while boiling reduced LD content up to 70%. Compared to LD+DDCI, MP extract at similar LD dose provided less clinical benefit, with a 3.5-fold lower median AUC.

Conclusion: Considering the lack of a DDCI, MP therapy may provide clinical benefit only when content of LD is at least 3.5-fold the standard LD+DDCI. If long-term MP proves to be safe and effective in controlled clinical trials, it may be a sustainable alternative therapy for PD in low-income countries.

Keywords: Levodopa; Mucuna pruriens; Parkinson's disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiparkinson Agents / blood*
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase Inhibitors / blood
  • Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Drug Compounding / economics
  • Drug Compounding / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / blood*
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucuna / chemistry*
  • Parkinson Disease / blood*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Seeds / chemistry


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Levodopa