Question: What are your thoughts about using the Mucuna bean to
treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s?
There is an upside and a downside to taking Mucuna bean
to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Macuna bean (or Mucuna Puriens) is derived from a plant
that grows in tropical climates. The Mucuna herb has been used
for generations in India and other eastern countries to treat
Parkinson’s with varying success. Mucuna is by no means
a new revelation.
People use Mucuna in part because it does not
have the side effects of prescription medications.
Several volunteers from the Portland Parkinsons Energy
Project who do not take prescribed medications
for Parkinson’s have been pleased with the results they
get from taking Mucuna. Other people have been able
to reduce the dose of their prescribed medications or
even wean themselves off medications altogether.
Research on the effectiveness on Mucuna is encouraging.
I will be summarizing these discoveries in upcoming
Parkinsons Recovery newsletters
No changes in the dosage of prescription
medications should of course be made without
consulting with your doctor first. Even though it
is not a prescription medication, it is also just
as important to consult with your doctor before
taking any natural herb supplement like Mucuna.
It is clear from talking with other health professionals that
Mucuna is not a cure nor does it provide relief
for everyone. After all, if Mucuna were a panacea
everyone with Parkinson’s would be taking it and no one
today would be suffering from its symptoms.
Many people think of Parkinson’s simplistically as a
deficiency of dopamine. In fact, the “disease” is
described by most health care providers as such.
The truth of the matter is that reasons for
the symptoms of Parkinson’s are far, far more
complicated than this.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s are aggravated by an imbalance
of over 39 different neurotransmitters. When you take
Mucuna (or any dopamine supplement for that matter)
you are making a decision to focus on only a tiny fraction
of the problem.
The body is making fine adjustments to the production
and distribution of hormones continuously, second by
second, minute by minute. Consider the maze of
complicated adjustments your body makes to produce
and distribute the other 38 neurotransmitters when you take
any dopamine lookalike.
Ingesting a single synthetic hormone once a day creates an instant
imbalance. The body is challenged with the task of re-balancing
all the other 38 hormones that must be continuously manufactured
and distributed to the tissues. The “adjustment” that comes from taking a dopamine
supplement is crude. Mucuna is taken once or twice a
day. The body produces and distributes hormones
continuously each and every second of the day.
Do the math. The difference is mind-boggling.
If the choice is between the body and Mucuna I
am betting on the body any day of the week.
A second challenge you will encounter if you decide to
take Mucuna – and keep in mind this may be a good
choice for you – is that you are giving your body the
signal it does not need to produce dopamine
on its own. Think like your body and you will understand
the long term consequences of what happens when
you take a dopamine producing supplement like Mucuna.
Here is the decision sequence: Your body is busy
with the work of adjusting and balancing hormones
which, after all, is one of its important jobs. Mucuna mysteriously
appears in the digestive system.There is suddenly and
unexpectedly an external intrusion into the body. The
body begins to ponder:
“Who is in charge here?”
A critical function of the body is suddenly and unexpectedly
being handled by someone else. The mind then says to itself:
“If someone else is doing my job, why should I bother?”
Isn’t this just what you do when someone else begins doing
a job you thought was your responsibility?
A reason that cells in the substantia nigra die is because
dopamine is being supplied by an external source. Cells
that produce dopamine are no longer needed. You either
use it or lose it. In this case you lose it. The body eventually
surrenders responsibility for producing dopamine. John Coleman ND points out that most of the Macuna bean
that is packaged and sold in the marketplace is not actually
“natural.” It is processed. The Mucuna pill capsules
are manufactured and refined, purified and converted to
powder. John Coleman has also observed in his clinic that
Macuna can induce the “same adverse effects as synthetic
levodopa if consumed in large quantities over a long period.
Coleman has a different recommendation for his clients.
He suggests you hydrate your body by taking a
natural homeopathic remedy. The body has an easier
time producing and balancing hormones when the cells
are adequately hydrated.
Mucuna may provide welcome relief in the short term.
But if it is used as a lifetime remedy your body’s
incredibly intricate system for monitoring
hormones will be short circuited. Sensitivity of
the monitoring system is degraded and the system
itself is eventually disabled.
Your body gradually gives up its charge at birth to maintain
health and wellness. You eventually begin to feel lousy.
Your health deteriorates.
Why not give your body a chance to do its work whenever
possible? Wait. Be patient. Acknowledge to yourself
that you will not necessarily feel good every day. Accept
the reality that some days you will likely feel lousy. Helping
the body re-remember how to balance hormones is not an
easy task but the rewards are worth it.
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.