Mucuna Pruriens (Cowitch, Konch) — Family Name: Fabaceace
Botanical Name: Mucuna Pruriens
Common Name: Cowitch, Common Cowitch, Konch
Part Used: Roots, Seeds, Leaves
Uses: The roots are bitter, sweet thermogenic emollient, stimulant, purgative, aphrodisiac, diuretic. The leaves are aphrodisiac. The seeds are astringent, laxative, anthelmentic, alexipharmic and tonic.
Mucuna has been used for generations in India to treat Parkinson’s disease. Mucuna pruriens contains L-Dopa. L-dopa is used to make dopamine, an important brain chemical involved in mood, sexuality and movement. Mucuna pruriens has antioxidant properties.
Mucuna pruriens is one of the popular medicine of India and it constituent more than 200 indigenous drug formulations. All parts of Mucuna posses valuable medicinal properties. After the discovery that Mucuna seeds contain L-dopa, an anti-parkinson’s disease drug, its demand in international market has increased many fold.
Mucuna pruriens is an annual vine that grows up to 30 ft. The leaves are alternate with three large, rhomboid-ovate leaflets. The flowers are large white to dark purple color and hang in long racemes. Mucuna pruriens produces clusters of pods that are curved, 4 to 8 cm long covered with very small velvety hairs of reddish-orange color. The pods hairs are readily dislodged and can cause intense irritation to the skin. Each pods contain 2-6 seeds.
Mucuna is a native of India, West Indies, tropical America, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. Travellers in the tropics know Cowhage well on account of their nasty experience of skin irritation by the stinging hairs which are easily shaken off the pods upon touch. In history, Mucuna has been used as an aphrodisiac. It is still used to increase libido in both men and women, and can help with erectile dysfunction. It was also used to treat depression, nervous disorders, and to help improve mental alertness.