(NaturalNews) Parkinson`s disease is a devastating illness that generally afflicts people when they have reached their golden years, only to be robbed of enjoying them. A practice of medicine with thousands of years of successfully treating illnesses may open the door to a natural remedy for the alleviation of symptoms of this insidious disease. One of the most popular herbs in Ayurvedic medicine that is used for a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson`s disease, is Mucuna Pruriens.
Parkinson`s is a cruel disease that robs victims of their ability to control their own bodies. It is considered an age-related neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by the progressive degeneration of dopamine in specific areas of the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is essential for proper functioning of the brain. It is most notably involved in regulating mood, libido, and movement. In Parkinson`s disease, the levels of dopamine are depressed and the ability to control movement is compromised. It`s the lack of dopamine that causes muscles to become tense and tremble; whereas, in a healthy person, dopamine serves to dampen neural transmissions so that muscles relax.
Dopamine does not cross the blood-brain barrier and, for this reason, it cannot be used directly as a treatment. The typical Western medicine approach for Parkinson`s is to use a synthetic version of L-dopa, a precursor to dopamine. L-dopa, or levodopa, can gain access to the brain, where it is converted to dopamine. However, this synthetic substitute for natural L-dopa is associated with some of the usual side effects of taking pharmaceutical medications (nausea, headaches), and it has shown to lose effectiveness over the long term.
Ayurvedic medicine, which originates in India, is a 5,000 year old system of medicine that emphasizes a comprehensive approach to nutrition and overcoming disease. Included in this approach are exercise, massage, meditation, diet, and herbs. One particular herb, Mucuna Pruriens, has been used for many generations in India to help treat Parkinson`s disease. It is also known to increase testosterone levels, treat depression, stimulate growth hormone production, improve mental alertness, and increase libido in both men and women. Mucuna Pruriens, also known as velvet bean, is a vining plant native to India, Africa, the Pacific islands, the West Indies, and other areas of the tropics. The name "Pruriens" in Latin means "itching sensation," which results from touching the exterior hairs found on the pods containing the seeds on the plant.
Mucuna Pruriens contains high concentrations of natural L-dopa, as well as trace amounts of serotonin and nicotine. It is gaining attention for the treatment of Parkinson`s disease in conventional circles, most notably because there are fewer side effects associated with taking it than its synthetic counterpart. It has also shown to slow the progression of symptoms of Parkinson`s disease, such as tremors, rigidity, and problems with balance.
Clinical studies have indicated that using Mucuna Pruriens for a natural source of L-dopa induces a more rapid onset of symptom relief compared to the synthetic alternative. One of the criticisms of the synthetic version of L-dopa is that it loses its effectiveness in the long term. It should be noted that there are no long term efficacy studies for use of natural L-dopa from Mucuna Pruriens.
Caution: Mucuna Pruriens should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Consult a naturopath or other qualified health practitioner before using this product. Mucuna Pruriens may interact with prescription medications, antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, or Parkinson specific drugs.