Following the advent of science came the rise of science fiction, a literary genre based on imaginary futuristic scenarios and alternative histories in which humans can achieve the impossible with far-out technologies and transhumanist cyborgian tools.
One such popular science fiction trope is the use of pharmaceutically enhanced drugs to make humans bigger, stronger, and faster on a superhuman scale.
As real science has continued to advance, what we’ve discovered hasn’t been out-of-this-world “super drugs,” such as the NZT-48 pill from Limitless (2011), but rather a deeper understanding of what already works.
One of the more exciting “discoveries” of late has involved the immense health and fitness benefits of Mucuna pruriens, a legendary botanical native to Africa and tropical Asia, where the herb has long served as a sort of physical performance and health enhancer.
With Mucuna pruriens, we no longer need to look to the sci-fi nerds to imagine such fantastical performance-enhancing substances. Mucuna pruriens is the real deal. (Sorry, Philip K. Dick, your books are great, but they’re not going to help us conquer leg day.)
With that in mind, here is our Ultimate Guide on Mucuna Pruriens, or “velvet bean,” one of the most long-beloved botanicals and a rising star supplement among modern athletes, bodybuilders, and men of all types.
Continue reading to learn all the ins and outs of this natural testosterone booster, as well as more insights on some other beneficial ingredients to stack with Mucuna pruriens.
Mucuna Pruriens: Ultimate Guide on Velvet Bean
Let’s start with the basics: What is Mucuna pruriens?
Though colloquially known as “velvet bean” for its itchy serotonergic “velvety” surface, this herb is predominantly referred to by its scientific name—Mucuna pruriens—in bodybuilding communities and among general health and fitness enthusiasts.
Much of Mucuna pruriens’ health properties are attributed to the bean’s high concentration of L-DOPA (levodopa), a natural precursor compound to dopamine, the “pleasure” neurochemical.
Due to dopamine’s importance to emotional and cognitive health, as well as neuromuscular health (as observed in dopamine-deficient conditions such as Parkinson’s), L-DOPA-rich Mucuna pruriens is of obvious interest to nootropic enthusiasts and Parkinson’s researchers.[1,2]
However, L-DOPA also seems to play an important role in the regulation of testosterone production and sexual health, making it a high priority item among virtually all men above the age of 30.
Highlighting how Mucuna pruriens elevates testosterone will help clarify the importance of this natural performance enhancer to male health and fitness.
How Does Mucuna Pruriens Work?
The primary active constituent of Mucuna pruriens, L-DOPA is responsible for much of Mucuna pruriens bio-activities, though some research suggests that Mucuna’s other bioactive constituents may possess significant health advantages, too.
L-DOPA is organically present in many animals, including humans, where it serves as a precursor to the catecholamine neurotransmitter dopamine.
Aside from converting to dopamine and providing a range of dopaminergic health benefits, L-DOPA assists with male physical and sexual health by engaging the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) Axis.
Linking the brain to the testes (i.e., gonads), the HPG axis works with L-DOPA in the following way:[3,4]
- L-DOPA stimulates the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus.
- GnRH, in turn, signals to the pituitary gland to increase production and secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
- LH and FSH travel to the testes to respectively stimulate testosterone production in the Leydig cells and spermatogenesis in the Sertoli cells.
Essentially, through encouraging the production and secretion of T-raising hormones in the brain, Mucuna pruriens indirectly promotes healthy testosterone activity and sperm quality for a significant improvement in many T-related male health benefits.
The Link Between L-DOPA and HGH
Although evidence supporting the effectiveness of Mucuna pruriens in this area is limited, some research does suggest that L-DOPA may influence the release of various growth hormones (GH), which play key roles in healthy cellular growth and development.
In particular, one early study on the effects of L-DOPA administration on the release of hypothalamic growth hormone-releasing hormone (hGHRH) in humans observed that L-DOPA supplementation encouraged “a significant increase in both plasma hGHRH-LI and GH levels in normal subjects,” lending some promising evidence in support of the use of Mucuna pruriens as a natural growth hormone booster.
Mucuna Pruriens: Full Benefits
With the bio-mechanisms of Mucuna pruriens and L-DOPA laid out, we now need to ask: how do these bio-effects manifest in terms of noticeable improvements in male health and fitness?
By affecting the activities of several key hormones, Mucuna pruriens offers multiple health and fitness benefits for men (and women) in the following areas:
Anabolic Muscle Gains
As the primary male sex hormone, testosterone significantly influences muscle protein synthesis, making this sex hormone also one of the most important anabolic (muscle-building) hormones for both men and women.
When testosterone levels decline, lean muscle mass suffers, resulting in poor muscle growth and a parallel increase in fat mass. In other words, under conditions of low T, it’s difficult to grow muscle yet easier to gain fat.
One study on the combined effects of Chlorophytum borivilianum and Mucuna pruriens on serum growth hormone observed a significant increase in circulating growth hormone in exercise-trained men, providing support for the use of Mucuna pruriens for increasing exercise-related muscle and strength gains.
Sex Drive and Libido
The traditional use of Mucuna pruriens in many areas had much to do with enhancing sex drive and libido. Mucuna pruriens, as an aphrodisiac, seems to work on libido at least via two pathways: (1) the testosterone effect on sexual performance, and (2) the dopaminergic path to improved sex drive.[8,9] By stimulating both testosterone and dopamine status, Mucuna pruriens’ hormonal effects potentially enhance both physiological and psychological parameters of sexual health.
Granted, much of the sex research on Mucuna pruriens is still preliminary animal research. However, even so, as one rat study observed, the “aphrodisiac activity of the [Mucuna pruriens] extract lends support to the claim that it has traditionally been used for the treatment of sexual disorders.”
Related to Mucuna pruriens’ effects on libido, male fertility also sees an improvement with Mucuna pruriens supplementation. The proposed mechanisms for Mucuna pruriens’ pro-fertility benefits involve the HPG axis, via the stimulation of LH (testosterone production) and FSH (sperm production), as well as the enhanced resistance to oxidative stress (free radicals) brought by Mucuna’s antioxidant status.[11,12]
For men dealing with infertility issues and excess stress, Mucuna pruriens has been demonstrated to improve sperm quality and reproductive health safely and naturally.
Mood and Motivation
Theoretically, taking Mucuna pruriens as a nootropic makes sense. Considering dopamine’s importance to mood and motivation—as well as many other measures of cognitive performance—Mucuna pruriens’ pro-dopamine levodopa supply does tentatively qualify Mucuna as a nootropic cognitive enhancer.
In experimental models of depression, Mucuna pruriens has been demonstrated to possess “antidepressant action,” potentially improving emotion-related factors of cognitive performance.
Who Takes Mucuna Pruriens?
Outside of Parkinson’s research, the recreational use of Mucuna pruriens typically applies to the natural, legal performance enhancement of athletes, bodybuilders, and exercisers.
Via the HPG axis pathway, Mucuna pruriens’ T-raising and HGH-enhancing benefits may help men with their exercise performance and lean muscle gains.
Particularly men subjected to age-related testosterone decline, which includes virtually all men beyond their thirties.
For such men, Mucuna pruriens operates as a physical performance enhancer within the realms of athletic fitness and sexual health.
With that in mind, if you’re entering your “middle-aged” years and you’re starting to feel like your male vigor and vitality levels aren’t up to their usual youthful par, Mucuna pruriens may be just the type of supplement you’re looking for.
Stacking Mucuna pruriens with other natural T-boosters may help you net even greater male-boosting results.
Other Beneficial Ingredients to Stack with Mucuna Pruriens
On its own, Mucuna pruriens is an effective herb for increasing LH, FSH, HGH, and testosterone levels, all of which combine for improved physical and sexual health.
However, these aren’t the only pathways to improved testosterone activity and anabolic muscle performance.
Other beneficial (and natural) ingredients that target other T-raising bio-pathways and that work well with Mucuna pruriens include:
Scientifically known as Withania somnifera, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic (read: stress-relieving) herb and a prized staple of the ancient Ayurvedic health tradition. Literally meaning “horse smell” in Sanskrit, ashwagandha not only smells (and tastes) kind of horsey but this natural performance enhancer also boosts one’s masculine “horsepower,” so to speak.
Because of ashwagandha’s anxiolytic “sedative” effects on cognition, this herb is often discussed in the context of mental health. However, ashwagandha is also favored among athletes and bodybuilders for its well-documented benefits on physical fitness.
In one pilot study on the spermatogenic activity of ashwagandha among oligospermic men, a group of researchers found ashwagandha effective at improving:
- Sperm count by 167%
- Sperm motility by 57%
- Semen volume by 53%
- Testosterone by 17%
Additionally, ashwagandha has been found in clinical research to improve upper- and lower-body strength, as well as favor fat-reduced body composition, among resistance-trained men. Taken as part of a man’s workout supplement regimen, ashwagandha may significantly improve a man’s physical and sexual fitness.
Best Ashwagandha Supplement: KSM-66®
The preferred ashwagandha supplement, KSM-66® is a well-researched, full-spectrum, 100% organic certified extract standardized to 5% bioactive withanolides. Research has found KSM-66® to be effective at boosting various measures of masculine vitality, including resistance to catabolic stress markers, testosterone activity, cognitive performance, and sperm quality.
An amino acid highly concentrated in the testes, D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) plays a key role in the regulation of pro-testosterone HPG axis hormones, similarly to the way L-DOPA works.
For decades, scientists believed DAA to only exist within the brains of octopi, squid, and cuttlefish. Later, with the finding that DAA is also present in mammals, came the “discovery” of DAA’s testosterone-boosting properties.
D-aspartic acid, like Mucuna pruriens, works by stimulating the HPG axis:[17,18]
- DAA stimulates the hypothalamic release of GnRH.
- GnRH signals for the pituitary secretion of LH and FSH.
- LH and FSH respectively promote the production of testosterone and sperm.
Through the HPG axis, DAA seems to stimulate and sustain healthy levels of testosterone and pro-testosterone hormonal activity from top (brain) to bottom (testes).
In one study from 2012 on the effects of D-aspartic acid on the improvement of sperm quality in sub-fertile men, DAA supplementation was found to significantly increase the concentration and motility of spermatozoa, along with an increase in sperm concentration and the overall number of pregnancies.
Based on this evidence, the researchers concluded that “D-aspartate improved the number and the motility of the spermatozoa and consequently improved the rate of pregnancies of their partners.
However, take note that D-aspartic acid seems to increase sex hormone activity across the board, meaning it potentially boosts both male and female sex hormones. Which is why it’s important to stack DAA with an aromatase inhibitor (estrogen block), such as Luteolin (see below).
Best D-Aspartic Acid Supplement: D-AA-CC
Bound to calcium chelate for improved absorption, D-Aspartic Calcium Chelate is an advanced form of DAA believed to possess a higher bioavailability than standard DAA that allows D-AA-CC to deliver upon the male health benefits of DAA in smaller dosages. With a smaller dosage requirement, D-AA-CC may be taken in smaller quantities, thereby reducing the gastric side effects sometimes associated with plain DAA.
An antioxidant flavone found in many fruits and vegetables, and other beneficial herbs, Luteolin does not directly impact testosterone status but indirectly does so by balancing the testosterone-to-estrogen ratio for a healthier, manlier hormonal homeostasis.
The problem with testosterone boosting that many men come across: aromatase, an enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to estrogen.
Naturally, with aromatase present (which only becomes more present as we age), heightened levels of testosterone often translate to heightened levels of estrogen.
This is why men reasonably fear growing “man boobs” when enhancing their testosterone count and productivity. It's also why many natural testosterone boosting supplements supply luteolin to naturally inhibit aromatase and protect elevated testosterone levels.
As a potential aromatase inhibitor, luteolin may potentially delay “andropause,” an age-related condition marked by a decrease in testosterone activity—also referred to as “male menopause.”
Granted, much of the research on luteolin is preliminary. However, the current evidence is promising and supports the use of luteolin for balancing the T:estrogen ratio among men, especially among testosterone-boosted men.
Combine luteolin with other natural T-boosters, such as Mucuna pruriens and DAA, to ensure that your elevated testosterone remains as testosterone—not estrogen.
T-Boosting Synergy: D-Aspartic Acid + Luteolin
Because D-aspartic acid enhances sex hormones across-the-board, including both male and female sex hormones, taking an aromatase inhibitor with DAA is key to mitigating any unwanted side effects associated with DAA’s potential promotion of female hormones.
This is why D-Aspartic Acid + Luteolin is such a powerhouse couple favored by the best testosterone booster formulas. By blocking aromatase’s estrogen impact, luteolin may help maximize D-aspartic acid’s testosterone impact for a net increase in DAA’s man-enhancing benefits.
Vitamins + Minerals
Several herbal extracts and compounds may significantly elevate and regulate the body’s natural testosterone boosting faculties for a healthy, sustainable boost on male sex hormones.
But it’s also important to consider the smaller guys—the vitamin and mineral micronutrients—that comprise the nutritional basis for many of our male health systems.
Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for testosterone production and overall male health include:
- Zinc—required for the synthesis of testosterone, zinc works as a precursor compound to T synthesis, which means that zinc levels directly correlate with T levels.
- Magnesium—via unknown biomechanisms, magnesium seems to correlate with total and free testosterone counts, which is important to mineral-sweating athletes and exercisers whose risk of magnesium (and zinc) deficiency is exceptional.
- Boron—an underappreciated mineral for male health, boron may potentially protect T status the same way that luteolin does: through inhibiting excess aromatase activity in favor of a higher T-to-estrogen ratio.
- Vitamin D—the “sunlight” vitamin, vitamin D also directly correlates with testosterone status via mysterious bio-pathways; not to mention that vitamin D plays a key role in immune function and bone health.
- Vitamin K—both vitamins K1 and K2 are important to testosterone status, solely based on the observation that low vitamin K levels correlate with low testosterone levels.
Macronutrients and botanical extracts are important to elevating and sustaining healthy testosterone activity.
However, equally important (if not more important) are the micronutrients that establish the nutritional foundation upon which testosterone boosting is even possible.
Adding a comprehensive multi-stack including the aforementioned vitamins and minerals (zinc, magnesium, boron, vitamin D, and vitamin K) is key to any successful T-raising regimen.
Look for NutriGenesis® Vitamins + Minerals
Complexed with natural cofactors, such as probiotics, fibers, enzymes, and antioxidants, NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals are designed for enhanced bioavailability and efficacy.
Where many multivitamin supplements fail is in their quality department—they supply ingredients that are simply hard to absorb and fail to deliver on their benefits.
Food-identical NutriGenesis® micronutrients are comparatively easy-to-absorb, maximizing the T-raising benefits of zinc, magnesium, boron, vitamin D, vitamins K1 and K2—and more.
Testo Lab Pro®
For all things testosterone, Testo Lab Pro® has your back. (Er, your balls, to be more specific.)
Combining a potent Mucuna pruriens extract standardized to 15% levodopa with other natural, research-backed ingredients, Testo Lab Pro® is designed to optimize everything that makes men …well, manly.
And the best part: Testo Lab Pro® does this with a 100% all-natural, safe, legal formula comprised of potent herbal extracts and compounds that work better together as a team than they would on their own. Let’s take a look:
- KSM-66® Ashwagandha Extract, 600mg
- D-Aspartic Acid Calcium Chelate, 600mg
- Mucuna Pruriens Extract, 300mg
- Luteolin (from Orange Extract), 60mh
Including a T-essential multivitamin mix of Vitamin D, Vitamin K1 and K2, Magnesium, Zinc, and Boron, each supplied in bioavailability-enhanced NutriGenesis® forms.
Individually, each of these ingredients targets a specific pathway to elevate testosterone activity and enhance other aspects of male health and performance.
However, when combined, they work even better, synergizing to comprehensively optimize male sex hormone levels via multiple T-raising bio-pathways.
What’s more, Testo Lab Pro® comes encapsulated in natural, plant-based NutriCaps®, a premium, patented capsule constructed out of fermented tapioca (pullulan) with zero artificial additives, sweeteners, preservatives, colorants, etc.—any of the usual suspects found in many other inferior formulas.
Inside and out, Testo Lab Pro® is naturally designed to naturally elevate natural testosterone. There’s nothing cheap or synthetic about this stack.
Taking a multi-pathway approach, Testo Lab Pro® works by:
- Supplying raw T precursor to nourish testosterone production and maintain healthy levels of hormonal activity across-the-board.
- Stimulating the release of LH and FSH, which respectively enhance natural testosterone production and sperm production.
- Reducing T-diminishing factors such as stress hormone cortisol and oxidative stress (free radicals), even within the testes.
- Blocking aromatase, the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to estrogen, for a manlier balance between male and female sex hormones.
And more. By stimulating and protecting healthy testosterone production via multiple natural pathways, Testo Lab Pro® both safely and legally fosters an inner anabolic environment for a boost on lean muscle gains, strength, sex drive and libido, and emotional stability.
No doubt, as testosterone decline begins to creep up on us beyond our 30s, we tend to lose our male mojo as the vigor and vitality we previously took for granted starts to also decline.
And so, by elevating our male hormones to youthful levels, Testo Lab Pro® offers a significant improvement in life quality and male confidence, reasserting a competitive masculine edge in the gym, the workplace, and (yes) even the bedroom.
Other Frequently Asked Questions…
If you’re getting your daily dose of Mucuna pruriens from Testo Lab Pro®, all of the heavy thinking has already been done for you. However, even so, here are some common “how-to” questions on taking Mucuna pruriens:
How much should I take?
Because Mucuna pruriens extracts vary greatly in terms of L-DOPA potency, which research has found to be fairly inconsistent with many Mucuna pruriens-containing supplement, the recommended dosages of Mucuna pruriens also tend to vary greatly.
With that in mind, there is no official recommended amount of velvet bean to take on a daily basis.
Some studies have used daily doses upwards of 5g raw Mucuna pruriens. However, for daily testosterone maintenance, at a 15% L-DOPA standardized concentration, 300mg Mucuna Pruriens daily is sufficient to safely optimize testosterone production.
Are there any side effects?
Though rare, Mucuna pruriens does come with a list of potential side effects, including nausea, bloating, vomiting, insomnia, and headache. Because Mucuna pruriens has both dopaminergic and serotonergic properties, some gastric distress may occur, especially with excessively high dosages and/or raw non-extract velvet bean.
Typically, by sticking with a standardized Mucuna extract at the aforementioned dosage, you shouldn’t expect to see any side effects.
Do I need to “cycle” Mucuna pruriens?
Some high dosages or high potency (e.g., 90% L-DOPA) Mucuna pruriens supplements may advise abiding by an “on” and “off” cycle—say, 5 days “on,” 2 days “off”—to reduce your risk of any issues pertaining to L-DOPA tolerance and adverse effects.
However, again, if you stick to the 300mg Mucuna pruriens extract std. to 15% levodopa, cycling shouldn’t be necessary.
Can women take Mucuna pruriens?
Yes. While a testosterone booster supplement such as Testo Lab Pro® isn’t intended for women, many women do take Mucuna pruriens, especially for the dopaminergic cognitive health benefits of the plant.
Of course (as if this needs to be said), taking Mucuna pruriens, like any supplement, isn’t outright advised for pregnant women, who should consult a physician before taking Mucuna pruriens. But, on the whole, Mucuna pruriens may help improve female health, both physical and cognitive as well.
Mucuna pruriens is the ultimate multi-tasker. This herb can boost testosterone, boost cognition, boost libido, boost athletic performance, and even help you with your chemistry homework.
(Clinical research has yet to verify this last claim, but let’s just go with it.)
Basically, Mucuna brings unique T-raising support that, while effective on its own, works well with other natural testosterone boosters at re-elevating your manhood.
Supplying a clinically effective dose of Mucuna pruriens extract standardized to a potent 15% L-DOPA, Testo Lab Pro® delivers all the male health benefits associated with this powerful herb—and then some.
From the quality of its ingredients to the overall quality of its formula, Testo Lab Pro® offers a safe and effective T-boosting strategy that’s safe to take for daily, long-term supplementation.
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