Dolichos pruriens is a bean-like plant. It grows wild in the tropics, including India and the Bahamas, and its range may extend to southern Florida. The bean, seed, and hair of the bean pod are used to make medicine.
Dolichos pruriens has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Today, cowhage is still used for treating Parkinson’s disease, as well as for treating anxiety, arthritis, parasitic infections, and a condition called hyperprolactinemia. In hyperprolactinemia, the blood levels of a hormone called prolactin are too high. Cowhage is also used to relieve pain and fever, to induce vomiting, and to treat snakebite.
Some people apply cowhage directly to the skin for joint and muscle pain, to stimulate surface blood flow in conditions that involve paralysis, and to treat scorpion stings.
Dolichos pruriens contains 40mg/g of a compound called L-DOPA which is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine works as one of the best natural hgh releasers (human growth hormone) by stimulating the pituitary gland to increase it’s production. High levels throughout life of the body’s own natural growth hormone (not hormones from the synthetic injections) is known as a major key for human longevity.
Dopamine also increases other youth hormones such as testosterone (it must be mentioned that these increases are never throwing the endocrine system out of balance, merely improving levels which tend to decrease over time in the average person).
These resulting increased levels of these hormones from the use of Dolichos pruriens extracts, powders and/or raw herbs explains its association with increasing libido, fertility, lean muscle mass, reducing signs of aging such as wrinkles and body fat, increasing bone density and even boosting overall energy levels.
Animal studies have shown powerful results such as a ten fold increase in mounting frequency by male rats! Also a decrease in post ejaculatory intervals have been observed, meaning that the animals being studied are more quickly able to return to “the task at hand”. This could be due to the fact that Dolichos pruriens extract basically cures premature ejaculation and the amount of downtown between ejaculations by reducing hypersensitivity in the genitals.
L-DOPA from Dolichos pruriens has been shown to be safer and more effective for controlling Parkinson’s disease than the pharmaceutical drugs Levodopa and Carbidopa. This is because the vast array of other chemical constituents that accompany L-DOPA in the unprocessed plant also play a role in its ability to manage Parkinson’s disease. Since Parkinson’s is in large part a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine, this adaptogenic herb is crucial for anyone looking to manage this disease. It also looks to be very promising as a treatment for recovering drug addicts and people suffering from depression related illness, since these people have deficiencies of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine (which the velvet beans contain and help balance in the human body).
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking cowhage if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease): Due to the levodopa (L-dopa) in cowhage, it should be avoided or used cautiously in people with cardiovascular disease. L-dopa can frequently cause low blood pressure on standing (orthostatic hypotension), dizziness, and fainting. Much less frequently, L-dopa can also cause pounding or irregular heartbeat.
Diabetes: There is some evidence that cowhage can lower blood sugar levels and might cause blood sugar to drop too low. If you have diabetes and use cowhage, be sure to monitor you blood sugar carefully. The doses of your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia): There is some evidence that cowhage can lower blood sugar levels and might make low blood sugar worse.
Liver disease: Cowhage contains levodopa (L-dopa). L-dopa seems to raise the blood levels of chemicals that indicate liver damage. This may mean that the cowhage is making liver disease worse. If you have liver disease, don’t use cowhage.
Skin cancer called melanoma: The body can use the levodopa (L-dopa) in cowhage to make to the skin pigment called melanin. There is some concern that this extra melanin might make melanoma worse. Don’t use cowhage if you have a history of melanoma or a suspicious changes in the skin.
Stomach or intestinal ulcers (peptic ulcer disease): There have been reports that levodopa (L-dopa) can cause gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in people with ulcers. Since cowhage contains L-dopa, there is some concern that it might cause gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in patients with ulcers. However, this problem has not yet been reported with cowhage.
Mental illness: Due to the levodopa (L-dopa) content, cowhage might make mental illness disease worse.
Surgery: Since cowhage might affect blood sugar levels, there is some concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking cowhage at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Dolichos pruriens contains chemicals that stimulate the body. Some medications used for depression can increase these chemicals. Taking cowhage along with these medications used for depression might cause serious side effects including fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, seizures, nervousness, and others.
Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.
- Guanethidine (Ismelin) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Cowhage can decrease blood pressure. Guanethidine (Ismelin) can also decrease blood pressure. Taking Dolichos pruriens and guanethidine together might cause blood pressure to go too low.
- Methyldopa (Aldomet) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Dolichos pruriens can lower blood pressure. Methyldopa (Aldomet) can also lower blood pressure. Taking Dolichos pruriens and methyldopa together might lower blood pressure too much.
Some of these medicines used for depression include amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Dolichos pruriens might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking Dolichos pruriens along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
- Medications for mental conditions (Antipsychotic drugs) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Dolichos pruriens seems to increase a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental conditions help to decrease dopamine. Taking Dolichos pruriens along with some medications for mental conditions might decrease the effectiveness of some medications for mental conditions.
Some medications for mental conditions include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clozapine (Clozaril), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol), olanzapine (Zyprexa), perphenazine (Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), and others.
- Medications used during surgery (Anesthesia) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Dolichos pruriens contains a chemical called L-dopa (levodopa). Taking L-dopa along with medications used for surgery can cause heart problems. Be sure to tell your doctor what natural products you are taking before having surgery. You should stop taking cowhage at least two weeks before surgery.
- Medications used for depression (Tricyclic antidepressants) interacts with Dolichos pruriens
Some medications used for depression can slow down the stomach and intestines. This might decrease how much Dolichos pruriens is absorbed. Taking some medications used for depression might decrease the effects of cowhage.
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Source: WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1020-dolichos%20pruriens%20(cowhage).aspx?activeingredientid=1020&activeingredientname=dolichos%20pruriens%20(cowhage)