Ever heard of the magic velvet bean? Possessing the botanical name – Mucuna pruriens, Kaunch beej is often translated into ‘magic velvet bean.’ Kaunch beej is obtained from the Kapakacchu herb which is a tropical plant that majorly grows in Asia and Africa. Known by other names like Cowhage in English and Kevach in Hindi, Kaunch beej is an Ayurvedic medicinal herb and is a gateway to the cure of many perilous disorders.
Highly revered in Ayurveda and Unani medicine systems, Mucuna pruriens is a tropical legume rich in protein. It is a shrub-like plant growing in almost all parts of the Indian sub-continent. It can reach up to a height of 15 m. As a young plant, it is covered with hair, which disappears by the time the plant grows older. The flowers are usually lavender, white or purple in colour and the seeds are shiny brown or black. The plant is sturdy as it can grow in regions with acidic soil and even in drought-like conditions. It is also resistant to pests as the unprocessed seeds are high in toxin content.
Properties And Uses
Mucuna pruriens plant is usually cultivated as a green vegetable crop in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. It was once a widely cultivated vegetable crop in China and India. It is the pod that is cooked as a vegetable, whereas the young leaves are given to the animals as fodder. The Kannikar tribe of South India consumes the seeds after removing the anti-nutritional substances by boiling the seeds repeatedly. The plant has also been used as a substitute for coffee in the Caribbean countries. Kaunch beej is especially a rich source of protein, consisting of about 23 to 35% protein content. Being so rich in protein it is not as heavy to digest as many other protein-rich substances.
Being a leguminous crop, Mucuna is used as green manure. As a leguminous crop, it efficiently fixes nitrogen and makes the soil healthy.
The wide-ranging medicinal properties of Mucuna pruriens include:
Kaunch beej is extremely helpful in medical conditions like:
- Low dopamine levels
- Treatment of Parkinson’s disease
- As a mood enhancer
- Lowers stress and anxiety
- As an aphrodisiac
- Reducing joint pain and swelling
- Balancing hormone level
- Improves cognitive function
- Better digestive system functioning
- Raising the energy level of the body
Kaunch seeds are packed with different macro and micronutrients like:
The seeds are rich in bioactive alkaloids (naturally occurring nitrogen-containing substances which have important phycological effects on human and animals) and other bioactive substances:
- Venolic acid
- Gallic acid
- Dihydroxyphenyl alanine (L-DOPA)
Gunadharma or Ayurvedic Properties
- Physical property (Guna) – heavy to digest
- Taste (Rasa) – sweet, bitter
- Potency (Veerya) – hot
- Conversion after digestion (Vipaka) – sweet after digestion
- Effect on doshas – balances all three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha)
Ayurveda states some other properties of Kaunch beej. They are:
- Balya – Helps in increasing immunity and strength
- Bahumala – Increases production of faeces
- Brahmani – Provides wholesome nutriment to the body
- Vatahara – It is a potent medicinal herb used to treat a wide range of neurological disorders.
- Vrushya – The herb is an aphrodisiac.
- Pittasranashini – Kaunch beej help relieve bleeding disorders.
Benefits Of The Magic Velvet Bean
Kaunch beej with a highly effective nutrition profile has wide-ranging benefits:
Mucuna prurien’s ethyl acetate and methanolic compound extract have been proven to contain phenolic compounds in large amounts. Phenolic compounds are those that act as anti-oxidants and wash off the free radicals from the body. It helps reduce oxidative stress saving the body from many carcinogens.
An Effective Aphrodisiac
Kaunch beej is known as an effective aphrodisiac. Its anabolic property ensures an enhanced release of testosterone. Not only this, but it also increases sperm count as well as motility. The anti-oxidant property of Kaunch beej helps in reducing any kind of stress in the body and also delays the ejaculation. Kaunch beej which also works as an anti-depressant enhances the person’s mood too. All these activities of the magic velvet seeds make it the one ultimate aphrodisiac.
How does it work? A substance called L-dopa which is present in abundance in kaunch seeds is converted into dopamine. This dopamine then helps in the release of the testosterone hormone from the pituitary gland and enhances sexual activity.
Suggested Remedy: Consuming Kaunch beej powder with ashwagandha and ghee can help improve Ojas or libido.
To Cure Parkinson’s Disease
A high concentration of L-dopa, approximately 4 to 7 % makes Kaunch seeds efficient in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It is the low levels of dopamine in the brain which lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms include body tremors and stiffness in movement. L-dopa in the seeds is converted into dopamine and provides relief from many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, Kaunch beej is often used in combination with other medicines so as to prevent an early breakdown of L-dopa.
Prolactin is a hormone which is released in breastfeeding mothers to enhance milk production. Sometimes the medicine chlorpromazine leads to excess release of prolactin in men too. This excess prolactin is quite dangerous as it raises the chances of breast cancer. It is the L-dopa in the Kaunch beej which helps in inhibiting the overproduction of prolactin.
A Remedy For Arthritis
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Kaunch beej make it effective in the management of arthritis. It helps reduce swelling in joints and also reduces the pain through its anti-inflammatory action. According to Ayurveda, it is the Vata reducing ability of Kaunch beej which makes it a useful remedy when suffering from joint problems.
Suggested Remedy: If suffering with joint pain, consume one teaspoon honey or one cup warm milk with approximately half teaspoon Kaunch seed powder. Consume this combination every day after a meal for relief.
The kaunch seeds have an anti-diabetic effect and can be a helpful medicine for type II diabetes patients. This is due to its ability to lower blood sugar levels. However, diabetes patients already on medication must always consult a doctor.
Stress Management And Anti-Ageing Agent
It is known that consuming Kaunch seeds regularly ensures an enhanced level of dopamine in the brain. It also helps in balancing the release of other hormones, like growth hormone as well. Availability of sufficient amount of dopamine means an elevated mood for most of the time and lesser stress and irritation. Also when the body experiences internal happiness and lesser stress, it shows on the skin which ages quicker in people who are mostly irritated.
Provides Relief From Allergy
Kaunch has an anti-histamine property that is it works as a shield against pollutants, pollens and other allergens which might cause severe allergy. Kaunch is also known to work in providing relief from symptoms of Asthma.
Kaunch To Keep Insomnia At Bay
Adequate sleep ensures a healthy functioning body. However, due to various reasons, one might suffer from insomnia and lose a good night’s sleep. Kaunch seeds powder if consumed with Chlorophytum borivilianum can help cure insomnia.
Boosts Energy And Strength
The highly nutritious Kaunch seeds if made free from toxins serve as a very good source of protein. The protein helps in muscle in strength building. Apart from this, it also helps in the release of the growth hormone from the pituitary gland.
Kaunch seeds which have a warming effect in stomach help in relieving bloating and intestinal cramps and support a healthy bowel movement.
How To Use?
Mucunia pruriens can be consumed in numerous forms like tablets, capsules and as a churna. However, having a long history of being consumed as a vegetable, it can also be converted into a delectable dish.
Kaunch Vegetable Recipe
Mucunia pruriens can be used as just another usual vegetable of your palette. Consuming it as a vegetable means you get good food plus good nutrition.
How to cook?
Step 1: Boil the kaunch and peel the outer skin. Cut it into small pieces.
Step 2: Cook it like any other vegetable in your own desired method and the nutritious kaunch vegetable is ready!
Pro Tip: After boiling the Kaunch beans, peel its outer skin; open the bean, keep the seeds aside and peel the inner skin too. This is an important step as the inner skin is hard and cannot be eaten. However, don’t throw the seeds but cook them too.
The general recommended dosage is
- Kaunch beej powder/Churna: half to one teaspoon daily after a meal.
- Kaunch beej tablet: one tablet twice a day after meals.
- Kaunch beej capsule: one capsule twice a day after meals.
Side Effects And Precautions
The powder of Mucuna pruriens is considered safe for consumption on a daily basis for up to 20 weeks. However, it does have its own set of side effects:
- Commonly, the side effects can be bloating and nausea. In case of a more than required dosage, a person might also suffer vomiting and insomnia.
- There might be constipation and burning sensation.
- The plant consists of a substance called mucunain due to which a person can suffer an extreme itch on touching the plant.
Following precautions must be taken before consuming Kaunch beej:
- People suffering from variable blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases should be cautious. The L dopa in the Kaunch beej decreases the blood pressure and might lead to nausea and irregular heartbeat.
- People suffering from diabetes also need to take care as it is believed that Kaunch beej decreases the blood sugar level. In a way they can be helpful for people suffering from type II diabetes, however, there is a need to keep monitoring the blood sugar levels.
- Since it affects blood sugar level, people planning to undergo surgery in future must stop consuming Kaunch seeds at least 2 weeks before the scheduled date.
- The chemicals present in Mucuna pruriens can worsen a liver disorder. Hence people with liver diseases must avoid taking it.
- If you are suffering from intestinal ulcers, you must always consult your doctor before making Kaunch seeds your regular medicine, as it can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
- It can also worsen mental disorders.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers must also avoid Kaunch beej.
Although packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, kaunch beej should always be taken after obtaining the recommendation of a doctor to avoid any contradictions.