Levodopa vs. Mucuna Pruriens, Are The... - Parkinson's Movement

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Levodopa vs. Mucuna Pruriens, Are They The Same?

chartist
chartist

These two are discussed quite frequently on the forum so I decided to do some reading about them. Some members have reported better effects with Mucuna Pruriens (MP) while others are quite happy with Levodopa (L-Dopa) and see no need to to try anything else. Some on this forum have mentioned previously that MP is the same as L-Dopa, but this is only partially correct and is reflected in the following study showing that MP may actually perform better than L-Dopa with quicker onset of action and extended "on time" that is increased by 21.9% over L-Dopa.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

So, based on the study link above, MP would appear to have effects that L-Dopa does not, but if they are both just levodopa, how can that be? MP is a plant based form of L-Dopa and L-Dopa is a one component prescription drug. MP, like all other plants, contains many other components, one of which is L-Dopa. One of the other components contained in MP is Ursolic Acid (UA). UA is an interesting supplement that I have tried before. The following link confirms that MP has Ursolic Acid (UA) in it as well as Betulinic acid (BA). Both of these components have neuroprotective effects that L-Dopa does not and they have also shown other health benefits that L-Dopa alone does not. In Ayurveda, MP has shown health benefits in other disease states and health conditions as outlined in the following link, making it a little clearer why MP may be more effective for PwP.

This link shows the benefits of UA as might apply to PwP, but it is clear that these are just a few of the many positive health effects of of UA.

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/331...

In the following study, it is shown that MP also contains Co-Q10 and NADH, two more components that have shown to have neuroprotective effects and antioxidant activities with NADH having potent antioxidant qualities.

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/154...

The following study suggests that MP has much more activity than just L-Dopa alone and further suggests that MP also """protects or prevents the progression of the disease""".

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/286...

This more recent study (2017) suggests that MP also produces less dyskinesia than L-Dopa/Benserazide.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Given the above information, MP seems like a very good alternative to L-Dopa, while suggesting potential to be significantly more neuroprotective than L-Dopa. In the case of L-dopa, it does not seem to have other potential health benefits for PwP other than the known decrease in some symptoms which varies in each case or so it seems. Even though MP may seem like a good choice over L-Dopa, it is not without its detractions. With L-Dopa, your doctor prescribes the dose and times to take it. The average neurologist is not going to have a clue about MP, even if they are aware of it. So this means you will be pretty much on your own trying to figure out dosing and timing, but this forum may be of benefit in that regard as there are quite a few MP users who have shared their information regarding their use of MP. Here are some more possible health benefits that MP may offer to PwP.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Another issue with L-Dopa is the significant number of side effects that are outlined here:

mayoclinic.org/drugs-supple...

On the other hand, MP is not without side effects either, but the list does not seem nearly as long or as potentially serious :

apdaparkinson.org/article/m...

MP is not for everyone as I am sure there are more side effects than listed in the article above. Some people just prefer prescription drugs and MP would not be a consideration for that group. Others like the idea of using a natural plant that may have other health benefits for them that L-Dopa simply can't offer.

As far as dosing, for the most practical experiences it would be useful to ask the other forum members what is working for them.

So the next time someone asks if MP and L-Dopa are the same, you will have the answer, similar, but not exactly the same!

Art

47 Replies
oldestnewest

Art, thanks for your time on this topic. I haven’t read all the attachments yet but will tomorrow. Here’s my question. I buy without a prescription 99% ldopa from Nutrivitashop. It doesn’t say Mucuna Prurines on the label. Some here say the ldopa in the Sinement is synthetic compared to the extracted version I purchase on line. Others say they are exactly the same thing. Why do you need a prescription for one but not the other if they are the same thing.

chartist
chartist in reply to Cons10s

I'm not sure, Constance, but I suspect that at the time that L-Dopa came available as a drug (1970), little if anything was known about MP around the world except for people who follow Ayurveda. With a new drug coming out that was probably fairly pricey when it came out, the drug manufacturer was counting on people generally not knowing that a natural herb might offer the same or possibly better effects than their new drug and it would be helpful for that drug manufacturer if MP was never brought to light. With the advent of computers and the internet shortly after introduction of the drug, Levodopa, it is harder to keep that type of information out of the public eye. So when MP started to become more known in PD circles, it required no prescription since it is essentially an herbal supplement.

Clearly, MP and L-Dopa are not the same thing. MP offers neuroprotective effects through other constituents in MP like NADH, Co-Q10 , Betulinic Acid and Ursolic Acid. I just recently read a study that suggested that not only does L-Dopa not offer neuroprotection, but it may actually confer elevated oxidative stress and elevated inflammatory levels, so these two are definitely not the same! I will try and find that study and post it to this thread if I do. Here is one study, not the one I mentioned, but it shows reduced antioxidant status as a result of L-Dopa usage. Excess oxidative stress is a hallmark of PD. L-Dopa, at a minimum does not reduce oxidative stress, but MP does have antioxidative activity. I will try and find the other article.

researchgate.net/publicatio...

Art

MBAnderson
MBAnderson in reply to chartist

"... not only does L-Dopa not offer neuroprotection, but it may actually confer elevated oxidative stress and elevated inflammatory levels..." (And raises homocysteine levels.)

Now you've gone and opened Pandora's box.

chartist
chartist in reply to MBAnderson

The oxidative stress seems like a given based on studies I have been able to read so far and with elevated levels comes increased inflammatory levels. Better studies elucidating exactly how much oxidative stress would be useful, but I can see where it might be a better situation where the treatment either does not cause elevated oxidative stress or increases total antioxidant capacity to at least offset any added oxidative stress since oxidative stress and inflammation are both major driving factors in PD progression already. So adding to these two in any way seems like a bad idea.

Here is a typical study showing that Levodopa increases oxidative stress:

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/268....

Art

MBAnderson
MBAnderson in reply to Cons10s

Cons,

Once again Art, bless his heart, does an exhaustive job.

To summarize the links, MP acts quicker, last longer, and with fewer instances of dyskinesia then Sinemet. That's because of the synergy that occurs among the 400 other compounds that make up the plant. What is valuable about MP is not the levodopa, it's the rest of the plant.

In other words, the levodopa in MP is not better than the levodopa in Sinemet.

There are a lot of plants that contain compounds that are the same as synthesized pharmaceuticals. Plants are the source of most pharmaceuticals. Needless to say, the FDA has no authority over what plants we put in our mouth -- thank God.

This is same for vitamins. There are a lot of instances where vitamins when taken as a part of the whole plant are more beneficial then the same vitamin when it is isolated, extracted or synthesized.

Big Pharma cannot out do Mother Nature.

PS. If by 99%, you/it means 99% levodopa, then it's not MP, it's levodopa. Sounds like you're taking straight levodopa? (Which will not confer the benefits of MP.)

Cons10s
Cons10s in reply to MBAnderson

Yes, but I’ve been taking Barlowes 40% Mucuna Prurines for a couple of years when I added 99% ldopa 6 months ago.

This thread is very helpful and I truly appreciate your input as well as Art’s.

ladyaudree
ladyaudree in reply to Cons10s

Do you take both? If so when, how much?

Cons10s
Cons10s in reply to ladyaudree

I try to mix it up so I get the best benefits from a variety of products. I’m going to add the 5-7% Mucuna to my protocol. I think you have to find what works best for you. My protocol varies.

chartist
chartist in reply to MBAnderson

I agree, Marc!

Companies often try to isolate a compound from a plant in the hopes of being able to patent it in order to make their testing worthwhile and profitable toward ultimately producing a new drug to increase the profit for that company. MP is thought to have other benefits such as potentially being an anticancer agent among many other possibilities.

Art

Despe
Despe in reply to Cons10s

Constance,

Art already answered your question. May I add that L/C is a synthetic form made by pharmaceutical companies in their labs. It's not just Levodopa but also Carbidopa, a med. They pass on the resulted product (Sinemet or what other name they give it) to doctors for prescription. That is how pharmaceutical companies make their profits.

MBAnderson
MBAnderson in reply to Despe

If only mother (nature) could sue for patent infringement, the pharmaceutical industry could fit in my basement.

Hi Art! Another excellent post and of great interest to all PwP.

A case report was recently published in which a 48 year old woman with PD experienced a significant improvement in her symptoms when carbidopa was added to the MP dose that she was taking.

That is exactly what our MDS recommended to my husband, add carbidopa to MP. The efficacy and duration of ON time are amazing. Another way to use MP is to add it to 1/2 t Sinemet. The results are also great with this combination. It takes a lot of trial/error though to find the right dose of MP and obviously a reputable company's MP.

chartist
chartist in reply to Despe

I agree, Despe!

Better studies using mucuna pruriens would be useful for helping to determine optimal dosing, but as it is, members on this forum who are using MP are probably a reasonable resource in the mean time, in determining effective brands and dosages.

Art

PDsux_10
PDsux_10 in reply to Despe

Hi, I'm curious, how do you add carpidopa to mucuna, is it a separate prescription you get from your Dr.? Thanks.Cheers

Mel

Despe
Despe in reply to PDsux_10

Hi Mel,

Yes, it's a prescription. Ask your doctor for it.

PDsux_10
PDsux_10 in reply to Despe

Hi, I thought maybe that was the case and I asked the Dr here but I guess Australia doesn't px Carbidopa on it's own. So green tea is what my husband uses for now. Just wished it worked as good as Carbidopa supposedly does. Thank you for your response.Cheers

Mel

Despe
Despe in reply to PDsux_10

Oh, sorry to hear that. He can also take it with grapefruit juice which extends its bioavailability. If he is on any other meds make sure they are not contraindicated with grapefruit juice consumption.

PDsux_10
PDsux_10 in reply to Despe

Oh yes he does take it with grapefruit juice too. I've got him doing so many things these days, its hard to tell if anything is working or not? We will just keep pressing on!

ladyaudree
ladyaudree in reply to Despe

Is there any way to get carbidopa besides a prescription?

Despe
Despe in reply to ladyaudree

No, but you can use green tea or capsules (Teavigo) nhc.com/teavigo-green-tea-e...

ladyaudree
ladyaudree in reply to Despe

Thank you. I will try it.

Very comprehensive analysis of MP's benefits - thank you Art!

I've never heard of Ursolic and Betulinic acids - it's good to know about their neuroprotective effects. There is a statement in your second link: "Recently, several clinical trials have been performed on the anti-PD activity of Mp on PD patients that show convincing results." - have you seen any information regarding those trials?

chartist
chartist in reply to faridaro

I have not, but admittedly, I have not read a significant amount about MP yet.

Art

Here is another newer study (2019) also showing elevated oxidative stress related to Levodopa.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Art

Here is a 2020 study also suggesting increased oxidative stress related to L-Dopa treatment in an animal model of PD.

Here is a quote from the study

>>>The histological and immunohistochemical studies showed that l-dopa caused a remarkable neurodegeneration and increased glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunoexpression in the striatal area.<<<

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/327...

Art

Nobody that I am aware has ever suggested that levadopa is the same as MP, any more than they would suggest that an orange is identical to a vitamin C tablet.What they have confirmed repeatedly is that the levadopa chemical in MP is identical to the levadopa chemical in LC (sinemet) and therefore any benefit or side effects attributable to the chemical levadopa will be the same in both cases.

In practice the delivery of that chemical is different because LC includes a ddci and MP, includes the plant

So vitamin C helps with hangovers because it is an antioxidant which removes free radicals. The vitamin C in orange juice is chemically identical to the vitamin C in a tablet. But orange juice also contains fructose which speeds up the metabolism of alcohol by 80%

So they're not the same.

MP extract , 100% levadopa from MP DOESN'T have the plant. Just like 100% vitamin C extracted from oranges wouldn't have the fructose.

This sounds about right, Ricardo.The point I was trying to make was that MP is likely as good or better than levodopa. Pretty much what the forum members who have tried MP have reported.

Art

Thank you immensely for the time writing the information - it’s so very usefulI’ve been through the links but am unsure of the maximum dosage of LDopa I can take with Mucuna

I have Barlowes at 40% taken 3 times a day.

Would you know by chance know of the maximum dosage recommended

I’m thinking of Herbal Island - whilst the LDopa extract is lower - as there seems to be more of the other beneficial ingredients

I bought Zandoopa but the packaging was a little suspect so I’ve parked it aside

Would truly appreciate any feedback

Kind regards

Hello everyone, thank you a thousand times Art for the enormous work of synthesis that you do on this site.

To obtain 100 or 200 mg of L-dopa, you have to consume 2 to 3 times a day a too large quantity of tropical beans that are difficult to digest. Laboratories therefore reduce the vegetable part of Mucuna:

patents.google.com/patent/U...

The consequence of this ethanol process used by the laboratories is to progressively destroy the ayurvedic properties of the bean by concentrating L-dopa at 15%, 30%, 40% or 50% for example. At 50%, the ayurvedic properties are already uncertain. At 100%, nothing remains of the ayurvedic properties.

A better solution is to preserve the natural ayurvedic properties by adding pure L-dopa to your Mucuna containing "naturally" 5 to 7% L-dopa and get the level that suits you best: 30%. 40% or 50% L-dopa with true ayurvedic properties. Many people on this site do so.

Of course with Sinemet or Modopar, we all have at our disposal pure L-dopa + carbidopa or benserazide which are dopadecarboxylase (DDC) inhibitors.

Cons10s
Cons10s in reply to Bvanves

Bvanves, very helpful breakdown and explanation, thank you.

ladyaudree
ladyaudree in reply to Bvanves

How would I convert the 15% MP to equal Sinamet 100/25?

Despe
Despe in reply to ladyaudree

Look for the total mg of MP. Multiply that times .15 and you will get the L-dopa dose.

FE: NOW 2 capsules have a total of 800mg seed extract powder. Of that 800mg, 15% is L-dopa. Multiply 800X.15 and you will get the amount of L-dopa.

chartist
chartist in reply to Bvanves

Bvanes,

Thank you for the very useful and informative info on MP!

Art

Thanks for the information. I am one of the unfortunate ones that can not tolerate MP. After a little over two years of following a MP protocol under the supervision of a homeopathic physician I had to switch to traditional Levo/carbo. I had sudden spikes of high blood pressure 2-3 times a day. Frequently it would go as high as 220/100 and happen within minutes. The BP spikes would cause severe nausea and dizziness and lasted about 10 minutes before it would begin to slowly reduce to normal. I was on multiple BP meds and nothing could regulate. The day I stopped MP I stopped the spikes and the BP meds.

chartist
chartist in reply to NellieKane

NellieKane,

Thank you for that feedback and I am sorry to hear that MP was not tolerable for you, but I am happy to hear that C/L is. This makes it clear that MP is not for everyone and it comes down to trial and error to see what will work best for the individual.

Art

MP suggests 1 tsp. 3x/day - after reading about MP - hwp had a negative experience with Levodopa/Carbidopa and I looked for an alternative when I read about MP. Hwp is faring well with MP and it fits with our priority of finding natural options. Thank you for your additional research on MP. I will ensure that I read the articles that you added.

chartist
chartist in reply to Spencer53

Spencer53,

Who/what is Hwp?

Art

Spencer53
Spencer53 in reply to chartist

Hwp refers to husband with parkinson's - Mwp - mother with parkinson's. Saves a lot of typing.

chartist
chartist in reply to Spencer53

I see. I just use the term PwP for people with Parkinson's because it pretty much covers everybody. Thank you for the clarification!

Art

Extraordinary research Art. Your research is so timely as I begin making the transition from C/L to MP using Dopa Mucuna by NOW (15% Mucuna Extract). Tried the Hinz protocol two years ago and it failed. I had experience lots of vomiting, extremely erratic results, and unrelenting dyskinesia. After reading Stenenmast MP instructions, I decided to try MP again. Your deep-dive research confirmed my suspicion that MP would kick in sooner, increase "On time,"and decease dyskinesia. Several of you recommended NOW's Dopa Mucuna. I'm four days into the new protocol and results are looking good. My strategy is to replace 1/2 tab of C/L (50 mg IR) with one capsule of Dopa Mucuna (60 mg L-Dopa) every five days (time to stabilize) until I reach 1/2 or 1/4 tab per dose. Prior to this split test the dose was 2 1/2 tabs 3x/day for a total of 750 mg L-Dopa. I've just ordered Japanese Macha Green Tea to facilitate L-Dopa across the BBB.

This community is awesome. Thanks Art and thanks everyone.

Mark

chartist
chartist in reply to TigerShark

Mark, I am glad to hear you are off to a good start. It would be very helpful to forum members who are interested if you come back with updates on how you are progressing!

Art

What I see mentioned here often is -

l-dopa is C9H11NO4, the same as C9H11NO4 in Mucuna, so the benefits and side effects are the same.

This can't be more wrong.

Everyone should keep in mind that l-dopa is a refined amino acid.

What do we know of refined products historically? - you can effectively deplete yourself of those nutrients taken out (minerals, vitamins, amino acids, etc.).

For an obvious example, when you polish the rice and take out the outer hulls (containing nutrients), you consume mostly the macro processed starch/carb and develop devastating thiamine deficiency called beriberi, a lethal disease that had been described for thousands of years until we discovered vitamins and started fortifying foods. In the case of thiamine, deficiency can occur in a matter of days/weeks. So, does it sound right when you say the benefits/cons of eating polished rice vs the whole grain are the same (glucose=glucose)? Absolutely not, and the analogy should apply to any form of forced amino acid out of balance.

Some level of processing is needed and beneficial for MP - seeds and beans almost always contain some level of antinutrients such as phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, and other substances that bind and block absorption. Some people will be more sensitive to such compounds than others depending on their status and sensitivity. The antinutrients are much lower in standardized extracts than in the whole bean products with less consistent l-dopa content by batch.

"All germplasms had high levels of total phenols and phytate, trypsin, and chymotrypsin inhibitor activities, but were low in tannins, saponins, and α-amylase inhibitor activity. "

pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf...

"Anti nutritional substances such as total free phenolics, tannins, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, phytic acid, hydrogen cyanide, trypsin inhibitor activity, oligosaccharides and phytohaemagglutinating activity were investigated. The anti-nutritional fatty acid, behenic acid, also was detected in the present study."

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/201...

Cons10s
Cons10s in reply to rescuema

Rescuers, could ldopa be fortified? Maybe that question makes no sense so I’ll ask this. If you took Mucuna Prurines 5% along with ldopa 99% could that limit the depletion of nutrients.

rescuema
rescuema in reply to Cons10s

Yes, we should all "fortify" as much as we can (if possible through tests) given the many modern environmental factors causing nutrient displacement and deficiencies, but that also depends on your diet and your ability to absorb the needed nutrients. The majority PWP have gut issues and lack the ability to absorb nutrients even with a proper diet, so supplementing will be helpful, keeping a close eye on serotonin deficit (5-HTP) induced by l-dopa*. I do prefer the idea of using mucuna on top of sinemet (depending on the need), just as Despe is doing under Dr. Mishley. The more l-dopa you intake, you need to monitor your homocysteine level, especially for p5p, b9 and b12 deficiencies.

* ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

After this post provided clarity to the difference between ldopa and Mucuna, I’ve completely changed my protocol only using ldopa once a day and Mucuna twice a day. Hoping to limit the potential oxidative stress ldopa can cause and furthering the nuero protective qualities of Mucuna. Thanks team!

>>>Thus, by altering these cytokines or transcription factors, Mp protects or prevents the progression of PD.<<<

The above was a sentence from a study abstract link in the original post above that could have been easily missed, but seems very important in the comparison between MP and L-Dopa!

Here is a link to that abstract:

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/286...

Art

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