How is it that a traditional Ayurvedic medicine like Mucuna pruriens can be more effective than regular synthetic levodopa for Parkinson’s?
Many reasons, apparently. The botanical with natural L-DOPA appears to actually help restore endogenous levels of endogenous levodopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the substantia nigra (1). And, unlike synthetic levodapa, it doesn’t produce DNA damage (2). The neuroprotective effects are thought to come from copper-chelation properties (2). One clinical trial on 60 patients with Parkinson’s disease taking Mucuna pruriens reported that adverse effects were limited to only gastrointestinal issues, not lab reports (3).
1. Manyam BV, Dhanasekaran M, Hare TA. Neuroprotective effects of the antiparkinson drug Mucuna pruriens. Phytother Res 2004;18:706-12.
2. Tharakan B, Dhanasekaran M, Mize-Berge J, Manyam BV. Anti-Parkinson botanical Mucuna pruriens prevents levodopa induced plasmid and genomic DNA damage. Phytother Res 2007;21:1124-6.
3. An alternative medicine treatment for Parkinson's disease: results of a multicenter clinical trial. HP-200 in Parkinson's Disease Study Group. J Altern Complement Med 1995;1:249-55.