Can Mucuna Pruriens Improve Cognitive Performance?

article cognition supplements

  March 8, 2023

Mucuna Pruriens, known as velvet bean, is a legume native to Africa and tropical Asia and widely naturalized and cultivated. Mucuna Pruriens contain high levels of naturally occurring L-dopa, the precursor to dopamine.

Dopamine plays an essential role in mood, attention span and focus, libido, drive and motivation. Dopamine signaling is crucial for healthy cognitive function.

In a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study participants were given a single dose of L-dopa (200 mg) or a placebo, and performed a two-choice visual reaction-time task to assess human information processing.

Results showed that a single oral dose of L-dopa speeds up choice reaction-time without increasing the frequency of errors, revealing a significant improvement in human cognitive performance.

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that L-dopa enhanced new-word learning in adults.

Participants completed five learning sessions over 1 week with L-dopa or a placebo, administered at each session (five doses, 100 mg).

Researchers concluded that the L-dopa group showed superior recall accuracy for new words over five learning sessions compared with the placebo group.

The L-dopa group also had better recognition accuracy at a 1-month follow-up for words with a semantic description.

While high doses of Mucuna Pruriens have been used safely in some studies, a standardized extract containing 100-200mg of L-dopa appears to be the sweet spot for improving cognitive function.

It is also recommended to cycle Mucuna Pruriens, taking it only 4-5 days a week.

PMID: 24716148, PMID: 12185401, PMID: 25900350