If you are a dedicated consumer of threads on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Reddit, you are going to catch the unmistakable whiff of a supplement that has grabbed the attention of social media users in these and other platforms. That supplement is known as mucuna pruriens and has been responsible for a good amount of viral threads and videos. We caught up with Dr. Stanley Gooding, who has been in the supplements space for over a decade now, and the conversation that ensued was eye opening.
A life before the viral phenomenon
Dr. Gooding is quick to squash the notion that mucuna pruriens is just making rounds for the first time now. He tells us that the plant extract has been around for centuries now, tracing its origins to Africa and the tropical stretches of Asia. He attributes its early use to the Unani and Ayuverdic factions of medicine. According to the good doctor, a number of traditional communities used mucuna pruriens extract as an antidote for snakebites. Its use was also widely explored in the attempt to combat Parkinson’s disease from back in the day, with varying degrees of success having been experienced over time by different cadres of users.
A century of myths
Myths about mucuna have swirled around for a long time now. One, the mucuna pod is known to have hairs on the outside, and they induce a serious case of the itches. As a result, the people of Nothern Mozambique have fashioned out a new name for the Velvet bean, and they call it the Mad Bean. The Nigerians call them the devil beans. However, Dr. Gooding is here to allay those kinds of fears, and he says that there is nothing mad’ or devilish’ about the supplement. Even better, the itch it causes doesn’t go beyond the itching part and doesn’t last long.
Getting with the science
Dr. Gooding tells us that for a long time, swathes of the scientific community believed that mucuna pruriens contained tryptamine, an alkaloid that is known to exist in the brains of mammals and in the composition of some plants. However, the doctor assures us that this compound does not exist in mucuna pruriens. Just in case you were wondering, tryptamines are known for their hallucinogenic properties, which is a reason those using supplements might get
a little spooked about using a product that makes them day-dream. In fact, a study of 36 different velvet bean samples showed zero levels of tryptamines.
No, it’s not that expensive.
The doctor suggests that while capsules of mucuna pruriens will take you back a few bucks, it’s not nearly as expensive as you might think. A 400mg bottle, which typically contains between 60 and 90 capsules, will cost you between $10 and $20’, he says.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition reports that about 170 million Americans (71% of the adult population) use dietary supplements, and while mucuna pruriens is not exactly hogging the top spot, one would hope that its viral presence on social media will come good in the near future.