Cowhage Purchase & Information
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Why Do People Use Cowhage?
Commonly people use cowhage powder (velvet bean powder) for following conditions:
Brain Disorders - Cowhage is commonly used for brain disorders and psychiatric illnesses like Parkinson’s disease and anxiety.
Gut Issues - Velvet bean powder (mucuna pruriens) is also used to cure gut ailments like parasitic infections and to induce vomiting.
Aches and Pains - Cowhage powder (mucuna pruriens) is also used for the treatment of a variety of body aches and pains like arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis in particular) and myalgias.
Insect Bites - Cowhage is also used as a remedy for various poisonous insect bites. For instance velvet bean powder is used a prophylactic measure for the treatment of snakebite. Similarly it is also used as a remedy for scorpion bite.
Miscellaneous Uses - Cowhage powder is also used as a fever relieving agent, as an aphrodisiac and to improve the supply of blood to the cutaneous tissues during paralytic conditions. It is also believed to cure hyperprolactinemia.
Is It Safe To Use?
Possibly Safe - Use of mucuna pruriens is safe as long as the preparations are taken orally and according to the given specifications. Cowhage powder, also known as velvet bean powder, can be used safely for as long as 20 weeks.
Possibly Unsafe - Cowhage powder or velvet bean powder is safe to use orally but hair of the velvet bean pod are not safe when consumed orally or when applied to the skin. These hairs are potent irritants and can cause adverse effects like burning sensation, intense itching and redness and swelling (inflammation) at the site of application.
Pregnancy and Lactation - Pregnant and lactating females should avoid the use of mucuna pruriens because there is not enough reliable data available to rate the safety of this legume in these conditions.
How Effective Is Cowhage?
There is insufficient data to rate the efficacy of use of velvet bean powder for any of the above mentioned condition. However, some data do support its use for some conditions.
Hyperprolactinemia some evidence suggests that use of cowhage powder can help male hyperprolactinemia that develops due to the use of chlorpromazine. However, there is no data that could back the use of mucuna pruriens in female hyperprolactinemia of unknown cause.
Parkinson’s Disease results of some preliminary studies suggest that use of velvet bean powder can abate some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This effect may be due to the fact that mucuna pruriens contain 3-6% levodopa (L-dopa). However, this effect is observed when mucuna pruriens is used as an adjuvant to normal drugs used for the treatment of Parkinsonism like selegiline, anticholinergic drugs, and amantadine.
Mucuna pruriens preparations used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease include cowhage powder (or cowhage extract) standardized to 3.3% levodopa (HP-200), and other preparations that provide as much as 75-220 mg levodopa to the patients on daily basis. Some evidence also suggest that consuming a single dose (30 grams) of cowhage powder (mucuna pruriens powder) containing 1000 mg levodopa leads to the rapid onset of action of the conventional anti-Parkinson drugs. Moreover, the concentration of drugs achieved in the brain and actions of drugs seem to last longer when velvet bean powder is used in combination of drugs compared to the consumption of conventional combination of 200 mg levodopa with carbidopa. However, more research is needed to clarify the action of cowhage in Parkinsonism.
How Cowhage Works?
The most commonly used parts of mucuna pruriens include the seeds, the beans or the hair on the bean pod. Velvet bean (mucuna pruriens) powder seems to work in case of Parkinson’s disease because it contains significantly high amount of L-dopa (or levodopa). The levodopa content in the entire mucuna pruriens beans is about 3 to 6%. The highest amount of levodopa, as much as 5.3%, is found in the inner layer of the pericap- also known as endocarp. Endocarp has been experimentally used to see the effects of mucuna pruriens beans on patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a central nervous disorder that emerges due to the imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. One such neurotransmitter is the dopamine, which acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Dopamine cannot directly cross the blood-brain barrier but L-dopa (precursor of dopamine) can. To be effective for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease enough L-dopa must cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain, where it is decarboxylated and is converted into its active form dopamine. But of all the L-dopa concentration only 1% manages to reach to the brain because remaining L-dopa gets metabolized in the peripheral tissues of the body. Velvet bean powder or cowhage powder seems to lessen most of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease at a dose lower than conventional L-dopa products. There are also some speculations that some constituents of mucuna pruriens, in addition to L-dopa, may add to its anti-Parkinson effect.
Another important constituent of velvet bean powder is prurieninin. This chemical is believed to mitigate blood pressure, slow down the rate of heart and trigger the motility of intestine. Mucuna pruriens is also believed to have inhibitory activity against helminth infection. It can also lower blood cholesterol and flatulence. But these effects of cowhage powder have not been verified in human studies.
Researchers are trying to use mucuna pruriens for the treatment of snakebite. The extracts of mucuna seem to exert pro-coagulant effects against the venom of Echis carinatus (saw scaled viper), when given at least one day (24 hours) before the exposure to the venom.
Velvet bean powder also causes redness, itching, swelling and irritation. These effects can be observed when the hair on mucuna pruriens pod or the bean itself comes into direct contact with the epidermis. With contact, a number of chemicals are release into the skin. These chemicals include serotonin and mucunain, which can cause abnormal dilatation of the skin vessels, redness and swelling (inflammation). Mucuna pruriens beans are boiled repeatedly so that their irritant and rubefacient properties can be nullified.
What Are The Side Effects /Adverse Reactions of Cowhage?
Following are the adverse reactions seen with cowhage:
With Oral Consumption - The oral consumption of mucuna pruriens seem to be well tolerated. This hold true when the standardized powder formulation, HP-200, made from the endocarp of the bean wall is used. However, a number of side effects have been reported with the oral intake of cowhage (mucuna pruriens) powder.
Cardiovascular Side effects - The cardiovascular side effects of mucuna pruriens include palpitations.
Gastrointestinal Side Effects - The gastrointestinal side effects of velvet bean powder include abdominal distention, vomiting, flatulence, dry mouth, nausea and diarrhea.
L-dopa Prescription Drugs Like Side Effects - Due to the high concentration of L-dopa, the use of cowhage powder can manifest side effects similar to that seen with the use of anti-Parkinson drugs. Such side effects include derangement of liver enzymes, retention of urine, breathing difficulties, darkening of the fluids of body (urine, sweat etc.), priapism, cramps of the muscles and headaches.
Muco-cutaneous side effects - The side effects of velvet bean powder pertaining to the skin include pruritis, sweating and rash. The consumption of hair from mucuna pruriens bean pod can trigger serious irritation of the mucosal surfaces and therefore should be avoided.
Neurological Side effects - The neurological side effects of cowhage powder consumption include insomnia, agitation, headache, dyskinesia, giddiness, paranoid delusions, confusion, and hallucinations.
Topical side effects usually follow when the hair from the pod of the beans of mucuna pruriens or the seed itself comes into contact with the skin. Symptoms that follow include severe urge of itching, burning sensation, redness of the skin, inflammation and appearance of rash. Symptoms may resolve spontaneously but may require the use of anti-histamines. The hair can be washed off by thoroughly washing the skin but they tend to transfer to other people through objects like carpets or fabric of clothes. Therefore fabrics, carpets or other things that may come into contact with mucuna pruriens hair should be washed thoroughly.
How Cowhage Interacts With Other Herbs and Supplements?
Following is how mucuna pruriens interact with other herbs and supplements:
Hypoglycemia Causing Herbs and Supplements - There is some evidence that velvet bean powder may have hypoglycemic potential. Therefore, it can theoretically potentiate the effects of hypoglycemia causing herbs and supplements. Such products include willow bark, goat’s root, bitter melon, kudzu, ginger, fenugreek and others.
Kava - Some evidence suggests that kava may have anti-dopaminergic effects. Therefore, when used along with kava, the effects of levodopa in cowhage powder can greatly minimize.
Vitamin B6 - Concurrent use of mucuna pruriens and vitamin B6 in patients with Parkinsonism can decrease the effectiveness of mucuna levodopa. It’s because vitamin B6 increases the peripheral decarboxylation of levodopa. Therefore patients using velvet bean powder for Parkinsonism should avoid the use of vitamin B6 supplements.
How Cowhage Interacts With Drugs?
Following are the interactions of mucuna pruriens with drugs:
Anesthetics - This interaction is usually moderate but caution must be observed. Concomitant use of velvet bean powder (containing L-dopa) and anesthetics can trigger cardiac arrhythmias. Only anesthetics that have been implicated in causing this effect include halogenated hydrocarbons and cyclopropane. Therefore, either some other anesthetic should be used or the patient using cowhage powder should be advised to give it up for at least 2 weeks before surgery.
Antidiabetic Drugs - Although this interaction is moderate in nature but still caution should be observed. Mucuna pruriens has got a blood sugar lowering effect (hypoglycemic effect) of its own. So, theoretically the concomitant use of hypoglycemic drugs with velvet bean powder can significantly increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Therefore, it is necessary that while using this legume the dosage of insulin or oral antidiabetic drugs should be readjusted after the recommendation of the physician. Oral antidiabetic drugs include tolbutamide (Orinase), glimepiride (Amaryl), tolazamide (Tolinase), tolazamide (Tolinase), glipizide (Glucotrol) and others.
Antipsychotic Drugs - Caution should be advised in this interaction of moderate nature. Mucuna pruriens increases the amount of dopamine in the nervous system. However, antipsychotic drugs function to decrease the level of dopamine in the brain. Therefore, combined use of velvet bean powder with antipsychotic drugs can mitigate the effect of these drugs. Some of the antipsychotic drugs include thiothixene (Navane), perphenazine (Trilafon), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), thioridazine (Mellaril), clozapine (Clozaril), risperidone (Risperdal), fluphenazine (Prolixin), quetiapine (Seroquel), haloperidol (Haldol), prochlorperazine (Compazine) and olanzapine (Zyprexa).
Antihypertensive drugs - Guanethidine is an antihypertensive drug and its interaction with cowhage powder is labeled as moderate. Mucuna pruriens has blood pressure lowering effect of its own. Therefore the concomitant use of velvet bean (mucuna pruriens) powder and guanethidine should be avoided since this combination has additive hypotensive effects on the body.
Methyldopa - Methyldoa (Aldomet) should never be used in combination with mucuna pruriens. The nature of this interaction is very serious and therefore should be avoided. Two things are worth mentioning here. First, due to the antihypertensive effects of methyldopa, the concomitant use of methyldopa and velvet bean powder can have a potentiated hypotensive effect. Second, use of methyldopa can decrease the peripheral decarboxylation of cowhage powder. This can lead to a substantial increase in the brain level, which can leading to potential toxicity.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) - The side effects of this interaction are of severe nature. Therefore, concomitant use of MAOIs and mucuna pruriens should be avoided. Velvet bean powder behaves differently when used with different types of MAOIs. When used with non-selective MAOIs like phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate) can lead to hypertensive crisis. However, cowhage (mucuna pruriens) powder can be used safely with MAO-B selective inhibitors like selegiline (Deprenyl) without significant drug interactions.
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) - Although this interaction is of moderate nature but still caution should be observed. TCAs decrease the emptying of stomach contents and can thus hinder the complete absorption of L-dopa from the gut. Some cases have been reported where the concomitant use of TCAs and L-dopa can cause dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movements) and hypertension. Common TCAs include protriptyline (Vivactil), doxepin (Sinequan), amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil) and desipramine (Norpramin).
How Cowhage Interacts With Foods?
There is no known interaction of velvet bean powder with different foods.
How Cowhage Interacts With Lab Tests?
Following are the interactions of cowhage powder with different lab results:
Blood Glucose LevelDue to its high levodapa (L-dopa) content, use of mucuna pruriens can give false-positive results with chemicals like Benedict’s reagent or Clinitest tablets (reagents that contain cupric sulfate in them). Moreover, false positive results are observed with glucose oxidase tests such as Tes-Tape and Clinistix.
Ketone Bodies - Cowhage powder is high in levodopa content. Therefore, its use can lead to false urine ketones reaction with reagents like Labstix, Acetest and Ketostix- these reagents contain nitroprusside in them.
Liver Function Tests (LFTs) - Liver function tests are derailed (mostly elevated) with the consumption of mucuna pruriens. Liver function tests like alanine aminotransferase (ALT or SGPT), bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and aspartate dehydrogenase (AST or SGOT). These effects have been theoretically speculated with the use of velvet bean powder but there has been no authentic report in this regard.
Uric Acid Levels - In calorimetric tests, the level of uric acid might appear elevated when these tests are performed after the consumption of cowhage powder. However, this effect is not observed with tests that use uricase.
How Cowhage Interacts With Diseases and Conditions?
Following is how mucuna pruriens interacts with different diseases and conditions:
Cardiovascular Diseases - Levodopa (L-dopa) can cause diverse effects on the cardiovascular system like syncope, decrease in blood pressure and dizziness. Moreover, it can cause some fatal complications like palpitations and irregularities of cardiac rhythm (cardiac arrhythmias). Therefore, patients with cardiovascular disease should always consultant their physician before the consumption of cowhage powder.
Diabetes - There have been multiple reports that suggest the hypoglycemic effects of mucuna pruriens. Therefore, patients with diabetes should always increase their blood sugar monitoring when using this herb. Moreover, they consult their physician for the readjustment of the dosage of antidiabetic drugs.
Hypoglycemia - Cowhage powder can cause decrease in blood sugar level and can thus exacerbate hypoglycemia.
Liver Disease - Patients with liver disease should use mucuna pruriens with caution because of the high levodopa content of levodopa (L-dopa) of this herb. Use of this herb has shown to elevate the values of liver function tests.
Melanoma - Melanin is a pigment found in the skin. L-dopa is the precursor molecule in the skin pigment (melanin) synthesis. Therefore, using mucuna pruriens can increase the risk of melanoma. Physicians should ask the patients of melanoma or patients who are suspected to have melanoma to avoid the use of velvet bean powder.
Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) - L-dopa has been reported to be the cause of bleeding in patients with gastric problems like gastric or peptic ulcer disease. Therefore, patients of peptic ulcer disease should be advised to observe caution while using this herb.
Psychiatric Illnesses - Higher levels of L-dopa can worsen the symptoms in patients with psychiatric illnesses. Mucuna pruriens due to its increased content of L-dopa can worsen the symptoms of psychiatric illnesses. Therefore, patients with such diseases should be advised not to take velvet bean powder.
Surgery - Cowhage powder can decrease the level of blood glucose level. Theoretically, this powder can alter the level of glucose during or after different surgeries. Patients who have to undergo surgery should be advised to give up mucuna pruriens or at least 2 weeks before the surgery.
What Should Be the Dose/Administration of Cowhage?
The oral dosage of mucuna pruriens should be as follows:
With Oral Consumption
• The oral dose of mucuna pruriens powder, HP-200, for Parkinson’s disease should be standardized such that it contains 3.3% levodopa (L-dopa).
• The dosage range for Parkinson’s disease should be 22.5 to 67.5 grams and this dosage should be divided into two to five doses per day.
• Non-standardized mucuna pruriens should be used such that it contains 45% to 5.5% of levodopa (L-dopa). The dosage should be 40 to 60 grams and should be divided into 4 equal daily doses.
Mucuna pruriens, made into velvet bean powder or cowhage powder, is a legume that grows in the tropical regions including Bahamas and India. It is also found in the southern regions of Florida. Mucuna has been long used in the Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It is very high in levodapa. The beans are separated from the pods and are sold as an itching powder.
General Certificate of Analysis (COA)
Specification sheet links below are a standard copy of the COA less the batch or lot number and manufactures dates. Specification sheet can be dated and should only be considered as a general information. Please contact and request an up to date COA if needed for specific updated information before placing order by filling out the contact form with product name and SKU number. If ordering quantities of twenty five kilos or more contact for availability.