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.
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.
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.
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""".
This more recent study (2017) suggests that MP also produces less dyskinesia than L-Dopa/Benserazide.
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.
Another issue with L-Dopa is the significant number of side effects that are outlined here:
On the other hand, MP is not without side effects either, but the list does not seem nearly as long or as potentially serious :
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!