Mucuna pruriens e Peperoncino
Mucuna pruriens è un legume tropicale tristemente noto per il notevole prurito che causa qualora si venga a contatto con esso, in particolare con le foglie giovani e i bacelli.
La pianta di Mucuna pruriens fiorisce una volta all’anno, è di tipo rampicante, e li suoi rami possono superare tranquillamente i 15 m di altezza.
Quando la pianta è giovane, è quasi interamente ricoperta di peli, mentre quando è prossima alla vecchiaia perde tutta la sua pelliccia, fino a rimanere spoglia.
Le foglie sono comunemente a forma di rombo, e spesso le punte sono molto appuntite, gli steli dei lembi sono lunghi 2-3 millimetri ed i grappoli di legumi che si formano tendono ad assumere una forma simile a delle pannocchie dai 15 ai 32 cm di lunghezza.Mucuna pruriens
Il frutto della mucuna pruriens:
Il frutto in fase di maturazione si presenta lungo circa 10 cm, e largo 1-2 cm. Ogni frutto produce sette semi e la buccia è molto pelosa. I semi, lucidi e di colore nero o marrone scuro, sono appiattiti in forma di ellissoide, lunghi circa 1-1,9 cm e larghi 0,8-1,3 e spessi dai 4 ai 6,5 cm.
Lo si può trovare in climi caldi e tropicali che favoriscono la loro crescita in moda naturale e spontaneo, come Africa equatoriale, India e Caraibi.
Storia del mucuna pruriens:
Il primo impiego del Mucuna pruriens inmedicina ayurvedica risale a più di 4500 anni fa, come afrodisiaco efficace ed è ancora usato per aumentare la libido negli uomini e nelle donne.
Proprietà del mucuna pruriens:
Combinato con il Tribulus Terrestrisristabilisce la libido ad un livello soddisfacente accrescendo il livello di testosterone (effetto dimostrato in uno studio controllato) e quello della dopamina, accresce la produttività degli spermatozoi e favorisce l’ovulazione, migliora la vivacità di spirito, il coordinamento motorio ed aiuta a lottare contro le apatie. Inoltre gli estratti vegetali e la sua lunga sono stati usati nel trattare i morsi di serpente.
Per cui, Mucuna pruriens ha certamente un profilo biochimico affascinante e contiene una serie di principi attivi interessanti come la nicotina, la serotonina e soprattutto la l-dopa che è il principale precursore del neurotrasmettitore dopamina, isolata da alcuni scienziati indiani già nel 1936.
Mucuna pruriens ed il parkinson
In soggetti già colpiti dal morbo di Parkinson, i neuroni che si occupano della produzione di dopamina sono quelli più colpiti dalla malattia, con effetti importanti sull’organismo quali tremolii incontrollabili, rigidità muscolare, turbe dell’elocuzione, della scrittura, dell’equilibrio e lentezza dei movimenti.
I semi di mucuna pruriens
I semi di M. pruriens contengono un’alta concentrazione di levodopa, un precursore della dopamina diretta del neurotrasmettitore. Come levodopa puro, assunto in grandi quantità (ad esempio tramite una dose di 30 g) può essere essere efficace nel trattamento del morbo di Parkinson.
I semi maturi della pianta circa 3,1-6,1% contengono circa dal 3,1-6,1% di L-DOPA, con tracce di idrossitriptamina (serotonina), nicotina e bufotenina. Attenzione: quantità elevate di queste sostanze potrebbe avere effetti potenzialmente psichedelici.
Uno studio recente su 36 campioni di semi non ha riscontrato in loro la presenza di triptamine.
A differenza dei semi, le foglie, invece, contengono circa lo 0,5% di L-DOPA e lo 0,006% di methyltryptamine.
La dopamina è considerata come il neurotrasmettitore del benessere. È anche un intermediario nella produzione di norepinefrina (oppure noradrenalina), un neurotrasmettitore dello stato di veglia, ed è uno tra gli stimolanti più adatti alla sintesi dell’ormone della crescita.
Ed è appunto la somministrazione di un estratto di Mucuna Pruriens standardizzato in L-Dopa che stimola ulteriormente la secrezione dell’ormone della crescita da parte della ghiandola pituitaria.
L’ormone della crescita è certamente l’ormone più potente, infatti favorisce l’aumento di massa muscolare sfavorendo quindi l’accumulo di massa grassa, inoltre migliora la resistenza ed il livello energetico, accresce la sensazione di benessere ed esercita un’influenza positiva su numerosi altri aspetti della salute.
Mucuna pruriens effetti collaterali e controindicazioni
Degli studi di recente datazione hanno evidenziato confortanti benefici neurologici, con una eccellente tolleranza ed una quasi assenza di effetti secondari, contrariamente a ciò che capita con la l-dopa di sintesi, anche se ovviamente non è indicata l’assunzione per soggetti che assumono farmaci anticoagulanti, per chi soffre di pressione alta e diabete, ed inoltre non è idicata alle donne in gravidanza e in fase di allattamento.
Mucuna Pruriens è una pianta tradizionale utilizzata dall’Ayurveda che contiene la levodopa che, come noto, è un amminoacido precursore della dopamina. L’assunzione di questa pianta può quindi aiutare a ridurre taluni sintomi della malattia di Parkinson.
Le erbe medicinali e gli integratori da banco come le vitamine, gli enzimi e gli amminoacidi non sono però sufficientemente sottoposti a farmacovigilanza.
Ciò significa che la qualità, la purezza e il contenuto di questi farmaci dipendono dall’azienda produttrice che, come consumatori, sarebbe opportuno contattare chiedendo informazioni circa la purezza e la sicurezza del prodotto nonché consultare, prima di assumere il farmaco, un professionista autorizzato (erborista, nutrizionista).
Quasi nessun di questi prodotti da banco è stato specificatamente studiato per il trattamento della malattia di Parkinson. Alcune erbe medicinali e integratori potrebbero anche interagire con i farmaci antiparkinson prescritti oppure causare indesiderati effetti collaterali.
Eating peppers may significantly reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease
There’s some potentially good news today for anyone at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Including vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and especially peppers in your diet may substantially reduce your risk of developing this debilitating neurological disorder.
A study out of the University of Washington sought to follow up on findings that smokers, and those exposed to second-hand smoke, may be at lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Looking at other plants that contain nicotine, other than tobacco, they investigated whether including these plants in someone’s diet could have the same effect.
Is possible that people predisposed to Parkinson’s disease simply don’t respond well to tobacco smoke and therefore avoid it,” said Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen, of the University of Washington’sDepartment of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, according to a press release. “However, if tobacco is actually protective, and if the reason is nicotine as some experimental studies suggest, then our hypothesis was that other plants in the Solanaceae family that contain nicotine might also be protective.”
The Solanaceae family of plants includes tobacco, but also vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers and bell pepper (all of which contain much less nicotine than tobacco). Searles Nielson and her colleagues studied 490 newly-diagnosed Parkinson’s patients between the years 1992 and 2008, along with a control group of another 644 others who were neither related to the Parkinson’s patients, nor did they suffer from any neurological disorders.
Their findings showed that eating nicotine-containing vegetables showed a definite reduction in the risk of developing Parkinson’s, and that eating peppers showed the most dramatic reduction.
“Eating peppers twice or more per week was consistently associated with at least 30 percent reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Searles Nielsen in the UW press release.
Furthermore, according to their research, the more peppers someone ate, the greater the decrease in the risk of developing the disease, and this was seen mostly in people who’d had little to no tobacco use in the past.
The researchers caution that further study is needed to confirm their findings before any definite associations are made. It’s also possible that there’s another chemical shared between these plants, one that’s less toxic than nicotine, that might be just as good, or better at protecting people from developing Parkinson’s disease.
The P. disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects an estimated 7 million people worldwide, including at least 100,000 people in Canada. The disease is caused when cells in the brain that produce the chemical dopamine die. Dopamine has several very important uses in our brain, including the pleasure/reward centres and our emotional responses, but also the voluntary movement of our body. It’s this loss of dopamine causes the tremors, muscle stiffness and rigidity, and loss of balance associated with Parkinson’s.
The study, published in the Annals of Neurology today, was led by Dr. Searles Nielsen, included Dr. Harvey Checkoway and Dr. Gary Franklin, who are also from the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Dr. W.T. Longstreth and Dr. Phillip Swanson from the UW School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.
Come agiscono i nutrienti nel cervello: equilibrio dopamina/serotonina
Let me introduce you to the world of brain chemistry and a powerful group of natural chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. The communication network in your brain is a multi-trillion maze of connections capable of performing 20 million-billion calculations per second. Yes, I did say 20 billion!
How does this intricate network operate?
Well there are three major players
Neurons, which power the message, §
Neurotransmitters, which create the message and §
Receptors, which receive the message.§
In simple words, a neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger released from one nerve cell which finds its way to another nerve cell where it influences a particular chemical reaction to occur. Neurotransmitters control major body functions including movement, emotional response, and our physical ability to experience pleasure and pain.
Neurotransmitters also set in motion specific functions within our body and our nervous system. These transmitters can create and control a range of feelings, moods and even thoughts – everything from depression, anxiety and addiction, to feelings of self-confidence, to high or low self-esteem, the competitive spirit and can even affect our deep sleep.
Why Does it Matter?
A neurotransmitter imbalance can cause Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, irritable bowel, hormone dysfunction, eating disorders, Fibromyalgia, obsessions, compulsions, adrenal dysfunction, chronic pain, migraine headaches, and even early death. Scientific and medical research indicates that our brains use more than 35 different neurotransmitters, some of these we can control and some we can’t.
It appears, however, that we can control five of the major neurotransmitters with exercise and nutrition, and with our thoughts and behaviours.
Most neurotransmitters are made from amino acids obtained from the protein in food you consume. Two of the most important neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamine, sometimes called the ‘happy’ drugs. They seem to play a leading role in determining our moods and thoughts.
Dopamine, fuel for enthusiasm and motivation
§ The brain uses dopamine to stimulate arousal, alertness, awareness and our competitive spirit (a form of mild aggression).
§ Dopamine is also essential for coordinated muscle movement.
§ Dopamine is the neurotransmitter needed for healthy assertiveness and sexual arousal, proper immune and autonomic nervous system function.
§ Dopamine is important for motivation and a sense of readiness to meet life’s challenges.
§ One of the most vulnerable key neurotransmitters, dopamine levels are depleted by stress or poor sleep. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar also seem to diminish dopamine activity in the brain.
§ It’s easily oxidized, therefore we need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables whose antioxidants help protect dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage.
Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine. Once produced, dopamine can, in turn, convert into the brain chemicals norepinephrine and epinephrine.
Low levels of dopamine can cause depression, a lack of energy, an excessive need for sleep, and can even make you withdraw from everyday events, such as going to work or wanting to be with people.
Dopamine is a building block for the production of adrenaline, which stimulates us into action if we are frightened or anxious. These natural drugs are also necessary for us to be competitive, especially in highly- competitive sports, business and corporate life.
Boost your alertness with protein
Without going into the detailed chemistry of the brain, small amounts (100-to-150 grams) of protein-rich food will elevate dopamine levels and have significant effects on your moods and brain functions. The effects can be felt within 10-to-30 minutes. Protein foods are broken down into their amino acid building blocks during digestion. One amino acid, called tyrosine, will increase the production of dopamine, nor epinephrine and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters are known for their ability to increase levels of alertness and energy. No one eats pure tyrosine, but eating foods high in protein will give you a slight mental boost.
High protein foods include fish, poultry, meat, and eggs. If you can’t eat those, try high protein foods that also contain significant amount of carbohydrates, such as legumes, cheese, milk, or tofu.
Many of us eat a high carbohydrate breakfast as cereals have become the common form of morning meal. One of my friends is a highly respected bio-pharmacist and it is his opinion that breakfast is the time of day for eating a high protein meal.
Serotonin, reclaiming your calm
Serotonin is the calming neurotransmitter important to the maintenance of good mood, feelings of contentment and is responsible for normal sleep. In addition to the central nervous system, serotonin is also found in the walls of the intestine (the enteric nervous system) and in platelet cells that promote blood clotting.
§ Serotonin plays an important role in regulating memory, learning, and blood pressure, as well as appetite and body temperature.
§ Low serotonin levels produce insomnia and depression, aggressive behavior, increased sensitivity to pain, and is associated with obsessive-compulsive eating disorders.
§ This neurotransmitter also helps the brain focus, heightening your concentration levels.
§ Low levels of serotonin can create anxiety, a feeling of insecurity, anger, fear, depression, and can even induce suicidal thoughts.
S.A.D Seasonal Affective Disorder
Now have you ever wondered why you eat more in winter? It has a lot to do with your level of serotonin, or your lack of it and a condition called appropriately enough S.A.D. or Seasonal Affected Disorder.
With the lack of sunlight in winter, the body produces higher levels of a hormone called melatonin, which consumes your serotonin. Research has shown that when this happens, the body craves carbohydrates, which produce serotonin and makes us feel good. This is when we crave those comfort foods such as biscuits, pizza or chocolate!
The Carbohydrate Connection
Eating carbohydrates will trigger the release of insulin into the blood stream. Insulin goes about clearing all the amino acids out of the blood, with the exception of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that normally gets crowded out by other amino acids in its attempt to cross the blood brain barrier, but when its competitors are out of the way, it enters the brain. Once in the brain, the tryptophan is converted to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has the effect of reducing pain, decreasing appetite, and producing a sense of calm, and in too large a quantity, inducing sleep. Research has shown that dieters tend to become depressed about two weeks into a diet, about the time their serotonin levels have dropped due to decreased carbohydrate intake.
In summer sunlight reduces your production of melatonin, the serotonin eater and therefore it is easier to diet in summer. Summer makes us feel great and this theory could explain why people head for the sun during winter.
What does it Matter?
Eating carbohydrates will trigger the release of insulin into the blood stream. Insulin goes about clearing all the amino acids out of the blood, (amino acids are the building blocks to make proteins – Ed) with the exception of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that normally gets crowded out by other amino acids in its attempt to cross the blood brain barrier, but when its competitors are out of the way, it enters the brain. Once in the brain, the tryptophan is converted to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has the effect of reducing pain, decreasing appetite, and producing a sense of calm, and in too large a quantity, inducing sleep. Research has shown that dieters tend to become depressed about two weeks into a diet, about the time their serotonin levels have dropped due to decreased carbohydrate intake.
In summer sunlight reduces your production of melatonin, the serotonin eater and therefore it is easier to diet in summer.(melatonin is also needed for sleep see my article on Insomnia – Ed). Summer makes us feel great and this theory could explain why people head for the sun during winter.
This gave me a clue as to why I became a carbohydrate addict – the more carbohydrates I ate the more serotonin I produced and like any drug addict I craved more and more carbs to get a higher and higher kick of the ‘feel goods’. The result was that I became fat, even though I went to the gym four or five times a week! My energy levels dropped, I was constantly tired and became extremely difficult to live with. I didn’t want to go to the gym. I was overdosing on carbohydrates which leads to a another hormonal disorder called insulin resistance.
More Seratonin Anyone?
Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan in the presence of adequate vitamins B1, B3, B6, and folic acid. The best food sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Choline is another B complex vitamin that that is concentrated in high cholesterol foods like eggs and liver. A lack of choline can cause impairment of memory and concentration. Choline is a precursor to the brain neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is linked to memory. People given drugs that block acetylcholine flunk memory tests. Low levels of acetylcholine have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and poor memory. What a good excuse to put eggs back on your diet plan!
How You Can Control the Natural ‘happy drugs’
Being balanced is the answer, not too much or too little of anything. Excessive protein or carbohydrates over time will eventually have side effects that will affect how you feel and behave at work and at home.
Eating certain food and exercising at the right level, at the right time for your lifestyle is a keystone to controlling your moods and generating feelings of happiness and relaxation.
If you are a professional athlete, you require a different approach to control your neurotransmitters to a teacher, a taxi driver or a CEO. Also, every person’s body chemistry is different and needs to be taken into account. I recommend you consult a nutritionist who understands how food and neurotransmitters work to meet your health needs and lifestyle.
There’s a lot more to brain chemistry, mood control and peak performance, but that’s food for another article.
Small amounts (100-to-150g) of protein-rich food will elevate dopamine levels and have significant effects on your moods and brain functions. That’s why many nutritionists recommend a little protein with your breakfast. It boosts your energy and gives you that rush to seize the day.
Some proteins that positively affect dopamine levels are:
• Fish such as salmon, unprocessed tuna, and flounder.
• Chicken without the skin, eggs
• Small amounts of red meat.
• Beans, such chickpeas and lentils.
This was a guest post from Annie Infinite who spent 18 years as a health practitioner and energetic healer and believes that every dis-ease is ‘curable’. Annie loves to talk about health, healing and wholeness as well as her love of metaphysics and the magic of quantum physics and the laws of the universe and how to create magic in your life through understanding these principles.