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alternative meds and treatments

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Hello ~

I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the direction of a list

or article about alternative medicines, vitamins, supplements and treatments

show to be of help for person's with Parkinson's.


Thanks very much,


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Michelle, here are some articles that might be of interest:


Fava Beans, Levodopa, and Parkinson's Disease

Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD

Copyright 2001-2013



Beans and Parkinson's disease

In the past few years, I've been increasingly asked for information

about fava beans as a source of levodopa. It's clear that many people

are trying fava beans without fully understanding their properties. This

article is designed to answer questions that have arisen about fava and

Parkinson's disease (PD). I hope this may clear up some of the confusion

about the bean, and encourage people to discuss its use with their

doctors and dietitians.


This bean is a legume called "fava" (fah-vuh), faba, broad bean, and

horse bean. Its botanical name is "Vicia faba." There are many species

of faba; however, the "faba major"is the bean of concern here. It grows

in a long pod, like a giant green bean, with large, flat seeds inside.

It has been eaten for thousands of years throughout the world,

especially in the Mediterranean region.


How are fava beans related to PD?

Fava beans contain levodopa, the same chemical in Sinemet, Madopar,

Dopar, Larodopa, and other levodopa-containing medicines used to treat

PD. In fact, the entire fava plant, including leaves, stems, pods, and

immature beans, contains levodopa.


The amount of levodopa can vary greatly, depending on the species of

fava, the area where it's grown, soil conditions, rainfall, and other

factors. It appears that the young pod and the immature (green) beans

inside the pod contain the greatest amount of levodopa, and the mature,

or dried bean, the least. Three ounces (about 84 grams or ½ cup) of

fresh green fava beans, or three ounces of canned green fava beans,

drained, may contain about 50-100 mg of levodopa. If using the young pod

as well as the beans, the amount of levodopa may be greater than that in

the fresh beans alone.


What effect do fava beans have on PD?

Some small studies have shown that the levodopa in fava beans can help

control the symptoms of PD, just as medications containing levodopa do.

In fact, a few people report that the effects from fava last longer than

the effects from medications. Some researchers believe fava beans may

contain other substances besides levodopa that could be helpful for PD

symptoms. However, although some people report good effects, others find

no antiparkinson effect from fava beans at all; and still others report

adverse effects, such as nausea and dyskinesia. Much more research needs

to be done to determine how effective fava beans may be.


Are there any problems associated with eating fava beans?

Yes, there are a number of concerns to be aware of:


Variable levodopa amounts. Because fava plants have varying amounts of

levodopa, it's possible to get either too much or too little levodopa.

Too little levodopa will not relieve PD symptoms; and too much levodopa

can cause overmedication effects, such as dyskinesia - particularly if

other PD medications are being used at the same time. Also, the levodopa

can cause nausea in some people.


Allergies. Raw fava beans can produce an allergic reaction in some

people, including discomfort, and occasionally, coma. Cooking may

prevent allergic reactions.


Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) use. Another consideration is the use

of fava for people who take MAOIs. These include: isocarboxazid

(Marplan); phenelzine (Nardil); tranylcypromine (Parnate); rasagiline (Azilect) and

selegiline (deprenyl, Carbex, Eldepryl).


MAOIs taken in combination with pressor agents (foods high in dopamine,

tyramine and phenylethylamine), can bring about a dangerous, and

sometimes fatal, increase in blood pressure. Levodopa in medications or

in fava can convert to dopamine in the bloodstream. It should be noted

that selegiline and rasagiline are a different type of MAOI (MAOI-type B), and in the

amount normally used by people with PD, are not thought to pose a risk when used

with dopamine. However, people using any MAOI should discuss foods containing

pressor agents with their physicians and dietitians.


Favism (G6PD deficiency). Favism is an inherited disease in which a

person lacks an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD).

When these people eat fava beans, they develop a condition called

hemolytic anemia. This anemia causes red blood cells to break apart and

block blood vessels. When such blockage occurs in the kidneys, it can

result in kidney failure and even death. Although favism is usually

detected in childhood, adults can be affected as well.


G6PD deficiency is rare, occurring mostly among people of Mediterranean,

African, and Southeast Asian descent, but others can be affected as

well. Your physician can perform a blood test for G6PD to determine

whether you are at risk. If you find you have inherited G6PD deficiency,

your dietitian can help you locate other foods that may be of concern,

and can help you plan safe and healthful menus. For more information on

favism, see "Resources" at the end of this article.


Should you eat fava beans if you have Parkinson's disease?

Many people with PD can benefit from use of fava beans. If you'd like to

try them, discuss it with your physician first. Besides MAOI use and

risk for favism, your doctor may want to adjust the amount and/or timing

of your PD medications.


If your doctor agrees that you should try using fava beans, he or she

will probably ask you to start out with a very small amount at first, to

see what effect, if any, fava has for you. An ounce (about 28 grams, or

two tablespoons of beans) a day is probably right for most people to

begin with. After a week you should notice whether there is any effect,

and if not, your doctor may suggest that you increase the amount. If the

fava beans reduce PD symptoms, your doctor may want to adjust your other

PD medications.


How often should I eat fava beans?

There is too little information available to give an exact answer; also,

each person with PD is different, and has different medication needs.

Some people report a half cup (4 ounces, 112 grams) of fava a day, or

even every other day, gives good results. Begin with a small amount,

increasing gradually under your doctor's supervision, until you find the

combination of fava and/or PD medications that's right for you.


Even if fava beans help, you shouldn't eat too much. If you fill up on

fava, you'll be too full for other foods, and will miss out on the

benefits they offer. A dietitian can help you plan menus that include

fava beans and will best meet your personal needs.


Where can I get fava beans?

Fresh pods and/or green fava beans are available in season at specialty

produce markets and some specialty foods shops. They may also be found

at Middle Eastern markets, some supermarkets, and farmers' markets.


Grocery stores may be willing to special order the fresh pods or beans

in season, frozen pods/beans, or canned green fava beans, such as

produced by Krinos or Cortas. Be sure to specify "green fava beans," not

dried or mature beans. For more information, see "Resources."


Nutrient information for fava beans

Besides levodopa, fava beans are rich in valuable nutrients. Fava pods

with beans are a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc,

copper, selenium, and many vitamins. The beans alone are also good - 3 ½

ounces (98 grams) of cooked fresh beans contain 56 calories, 20 grams

carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, and substantial amounts

of iron, magnesium, and vitamin C.


How do I prepare fava beans?

The pods, including beans, are best eaten when very young, before a

"string" forms along the side. They can be steamed or boiled until

tender. Add some olive oil or butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and

serve as a vegetable side dish, like snow peas.


To use the fresh green fava beans alone, shell the beans from the pods,

like green peas. Then boil or steam them till tender - usually two to 10

minutes, depending on size and age. Add butter, salt and pepper, or your

own favorite seasoning, and serve as a side dish. You can also add the

cooked beans to salads. If the beans seem too chewy, cook for 8-10

minutes, then cool and slip off the outer skins; cook a few more minutes

if needed. Some people like to eat the skins, others find them too tough.


In conclusion, fava beans are an excellent food, as well as a possible

way to help fight the effects of PD. Discuss use of fava with your

doctor and registered dietitian. Here's to your good health!




Sources for fava beans: (Be sure to ask for green, or immature, fava

beans, either the beans themselves or the entire pod. The pods may be

fresh or frozen; the beans may be fresh, frozen, or canned.)


International Gourmet


32907 Mesa Drive

Lake Elsinore, CA 92530


Email: info@intlgourmet.com

Will ship fresh (in season), frozen green (immature), or canned green

(immature) fava beans



123 Lexington Ave.

New York 10016


Tel: 212-685-3451

FAX: 212-683-8458

Email : sales@kalustyans.com

Carries Cortas green broad fava bean



2650 University Blvd.

Wheaton, MD 20902

Maryland: (301) 942-9726

USA: (800) 880-6062

Fax: (240) 337-6468


Carries: KRINOS - Cooked Broad Beans ( also known as Green Fava Beans )

24 OZ .

CORTAS - Cooked Green Fava Beans. To serve: Heat contents and serve with

rice. Ingredients: Broad beans, Water, Salt and citric acid . Imported

from Lebanon. 30 OZ


For more information on fava beans:


The Fava Bean Project



Cornell University Division of Nutritional Services



For information on Favism:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1600 Clifton Rd.

Atlanta, GA 30333


(404) 639-3311




G6PD deficiency



The Favism Website: www.rialto.com/favism/




Burbano C, Cuadrado C, Muzquiz M, Cubero JI. Variation of

favism-inducing factors (vicine, convicine and L-DOPA) during pod

development in Vicia faba L. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1995; 47(3): 265-75.


Rabey JM, Vered Y, Shabtai H, Graff, E; Korczyn, AD. Improvement of

parkinsonian features correlate with high plasma levodopa values after

broad bean (Vicia faba) consumption.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1992 Aug; 55( 8): 725-7.


Rabey JM, Vered Y, Shabtai H, Graff E, Harsat A, Korczyn AD. Broad bean

(Vicia faba) consumption and Parkinson's disease. Adv-Neurol. 1993; 60:



Apaydin H, Ertan S, Ozekmekci S. Broad bean (Vicia faba)--a natural

source of L-dopa--prolongs "on" periods in patients with Parkinson's

disease who have "on-off" fluctuations. Mov Disord. 2000; 15(1): 164-6.


Food Fact Finder: nutrient data for Beans, fava, in pod, raw



Fava Bean: The Vegeman Files www.geocities.com/NapaValley/7514/f101.html


Nutritional Anemias (from Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, 2nd ed.,

edited by Frances J. Zeman). Macmillan Publishing Co., NY NY, 1991.

Favism, pp. 698-99.


Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (from Hematology, edited by

W.J. Williams, E. Beutler, A.J. Erslev, and M.A. Lichtman). New York:

McGraw-Hill 1990, p. 591-606.


Mehta A, Mason PJ, Vulliamy TJ. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase

deficiency. Baillieres Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 2000 Mar;13(1):21-38.


The Fava Bean Project



Cornell University Division of Nutritional Services








Beans (Mucuna Pruriens) For Parkinson’s Disease:

An Herbal Alternative



Bala V. Manyam, M.D., NPF Center of Excellence Plummer Movement Disorders

Center Department of Neurology

Glenn R. Cryer, Scientific Publications and Biomedical Communications

Scott & White Clinic and Texas A&M University Health Science System

College of Medicine Temple, Texas


Parkinson’s disease drugs like most other drugs used today, are chemicals

synthesised in the laboratory and then manufactured. Making drugs in the

laboratory is a slow, expensive and tedious process. This is one reason

why drugs are expensive. Large numbers of chemicals exist

in plants and other natural sources but only five percent of them have

been explored to-date. Plant based drugs for Parkinson’s disease, include

L-DOPA containing sources such as the seeds of Mucuna pruriens (Figure 1 :

Mucuna pruriens plant showing pods) and Vincia faba, the same chemical

compound that has been used for Parkinson’s disease in the last 30 years.

Seeds of Datura stramonium have an anticholinergic effect, similar to

Artane and Cogentin. Banisterine from Banisteria caapi and Nicotiana

tabacum has monoamine oxidase inhibitor that is similar to selegiline

(deprenyl). In this article, we will discuss more about Mucuna pruriens.


Before explaining how the powder from the Mucuna pruriens plant is being

used as an alternative therapy, it should be noted that Parkinson’s

disease affects more than one million people in the U.S. alone, and new

and effective treatments for this particular disease are goals of many

researchers. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disease

that primarily impacts the part of the brain that produces dopamine, a

chemical substance that allows neurologic impulses to be sent from one

terminal end of a nerve cell to the beginning of another nerve cell

terminal. In Parkinson’s disease, however, there is not enough dopamine

produced by the brain for its needs. The simple act of walking may not be

so simple. The disease can effect the body in many ways. The most common

symptoms of the disease include trembling (shaking), stooped posture,

muscular stiffness, short shuffling steps, speaking softly and rapidly,

poor balance, poor handwriting, and of course, slowness of body movements.

The cause of the disease is not known, however, a variety of medications

can control the symptoms.


Physicians in ancient India first used Mucuna seeds in the treatment of

Parkinson’s disease over 4500 years ago. The Indian medical system is

called Ayurveda, which is the world’s oldest system of medicine based on

scientific principles. Ayurveda is founded on scientific principles. It

has a long history of use of herbal remedies and has documented data on

mechanism of action, specific action, short-term and long-term toxic

effects, drug-drug and drug-diet interaction with a long history of use in humans. As per historical evidence, Parkinson’s disease existed in ancient India and was called

Kampavata. This was over 4500 years ago even though the disease acquired

its present name from James Parkinson who redescribed the disease in 1817

A.D. In the Ayurvedic system, powder of Mucuna is used for treating

Parkinson’s disease and is subjected to special processing. The English

name "cowage" plant (Mucuna pruriens) is derived from Hindi Kiwach. In

Sanskrit, it is called Atmagupta. Mucuna is a twiner with trifoliate

leaves, purple flowers, and turgid S-shaped pods covered with hairs that

cause intense itching on contact with the skin. The plant belongs to the

family Leguminosae, which is indigenous to India and has long been used in

Ayurveda since ancient times. Overdose effects of Mucuna were also

recognized in Ayurveda. These included headache, dystonia, fatigue,

tremor, syncope, and thirst. Many of these could also occur from synthetic

L-DOPA. In the modern times, two Indian scientists isolated L-DOPA from

Mucuna in 1936 and published their results. However, at that time the role

of L-DOPA in Parkinson’s was not known, hence not much attention was given

to the discovery. Subsequently, when dopamine deficiency was linked to

Parkinson’s disease in the 1960’s, scientists got interested in finding a

source of L-DOPA for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Because, the

presence of L-DOPA was known to be present in the legume, initial

attention was paid to extract levodopa from various Mucuna seeds and in

fact, over a thousand plants were screened for the high content of L-DOPA.

As L-DOPA was synthesized, further work on extraction of L-DOPA from beans

was abandoned.


The amount of Mucuna powder used by Ayurvedic physicians was small

compared to the amount of synthetic L-DOPA used to produce the same

benefit; if one looks at the amount of L-DOPA alone. This is what led to

one of the authors (BVM) to further study how such a small quantity of

levodopa in Mucuna could have helped and thought possibly that there could

be other undiscovered drugs in Mucuna that may enhance either the activity

of L-DOPA such as carbidopa as seen in Sinemet or there may be an

independent compound in Mucuna that may have a direct effect on symptoms

of Parkinson’s disease. This idea led to collaboration between Drs. Manyam

with Dr. K. M. Parikh, President of the Zandu Pharmaceutical Works, a

leading Ayurvedic manufacturing company located in Bombay, India. Their team

conducted a series of experiments to establish and to develop a drug for

Parkinson’s disease from Mucuna (Figure 2 : Mucuna beans with skin (left),

beans with skin removed (right) and powder). The initial work required

making the drug from Mucuna palatable. They developed a preparation and

named it HP200, which is a powder form and has to be mixed with water just

before administration. This is the first "liquid levodopa" preparation

ever made. They also established that when mixed with water the

preparation remained stable for several hours. The powder was also tested

so that there was no loss of active compounds during storage.


Despite the fact Mucuna was used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

in ancient times, it is still important today to establish that the drug

dose not have adverse effects on various vital organs. This was

accomplished by administering low to very high doses of the drug in rats

and rabbits and testing the effect of Mucuna on blood chemistry and blood

count (such as the one that many physicians perform in their offices and

the hospitals) and various organs. Some of the tests were done for as long

as one year and the results indicated no adverse effects were present from

Mucuna preparations.


To establish how Mucuna would compare to synthetic L-DOPA, experiments

were undertaken in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Two different

doses of synthetic L-DOPA and two different doses of Mucuna were

administered making sure that the amount of L-DOPA present is the same in

Mucuna as was the doses of synthetic L-DOPA. The effects of the drugs were

tested using a specially designed instrument called "Rotometer." Dose for

dose, Mucuna was two to three times more effective than equivalent amounts

of synthetic L-DOPA. This suggests that Mucuna may contain compounds that

make L-DOPA function better such as carbidopa, tolcapone (Tasmar), or

entacapone (COMTan). It may also suggest that Mucuna independently improve

symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Although quite encouraging, more research

is needed to confirm these findings. This work was done at the time when

the United States Congress established the Office of Alternative Medicine

in the National Institute of Health and the work was one of the first to

receive funding for alternative medicine.


Additional studies in India were undertaken to establish the benefit of

HP200 in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Four medical centers were

selected involving sixty patients and several neurologists. The studies

were conducted for three months. During that time, the patients received

HP200 while no concomitant L-DOPA preparations were administered. Trained

neurologists monitored changes in the degree of patent’s symptoms and any

side effects. At the end of the study, it was determined that the HP200

was highly beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The side

effects were minimal. HP200 was approved by the Indian Food and Drug

Administration and is available in India under the brand name Zandopa.

Further, the cost of the drug was much cheaper compared to the synthetic

drugs; thus it became more affordable to the patients. The United States

Food and Drug Administration approve the drug for clinical studies,

however, it is not available from the pharmacist.


Work on the Mucuna for Parkinson’s disease is being continued. The

importance of this particular study is not that Mucuna is an alternative

to L-DOPA, rather it is that compounds occurring naturally in plants for

example, may contain biologically active components that can be isolated,

tested, and used to provide safer and better treatments for Parkinson’s








The Parkinson's Recovery Project

I have no personal knowledge of this treatment or project; anecdotally, some people have reported benefit from the program. Kathrynne


The Parkinson's Recovery Project


Dedicated to dissemination of information regarding Parkinson's Disease treatments which use techniques of Asian Medicine







Natural Therapies for Parkinson's Disease (Paperback)

~ Dr. Laurie Mischley (Author)

5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)


Price: $25.00






Additionally, if you care to search this forum, using "turmeric" "fish oil" "omega-3 fatty acids" "green tea" "CoQ10" "Creatine" you should turn up more information. I also recommend you check with your local PD support group or public library for a lending copy of "Cook Well, Stay Well with Parkinson's Disease," in which I have recipes that include green tea, ginger, and turmeric.


Let me know if this is helpful, or if you have other questions.

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I'm trying a product that contains Macuna (Macuna Pruines) Green tea & Quercetin

called "DopaBoost" .... my husband actually is trying it for Parkinson's symptoms.

So far he has had quite a boost using this product.

Thank you so much for posting all the wonderful information...

all is deeply appreciated!!

Take care...Michelle

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Michelle, I'm very happy the information was useful, and that your husband is seeing benefits. Do let me know if you have other questions, I will help if I can.

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Noah, anecdotally, a number of people have told me they were able to work out an amount of fava beans that worked well for them. A few even began growing their own, so that they could get a more consistent amount of levodopa, and could get the fresh young beans. However, I personally speculate that standardized amounts of mucuna pruriens would be a better choice. I, too, think fava beans could be "hit or miss."

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Friends: I'm in search of recommendations on dosage for Mucuna Pruriens, in capsule form and possible reliable sources. I used IHerb.com for purchase of supplements and find them reliable. in this case, for instance, two sources come up that look promising: Now and Source Naturals, but I lack information on suggested dosage. here's the link: http://www.iherb.com...760&y=-157#none I'd be very appreciative of any guidance, references re dosage, etc. thanks very much. Michael Mery


Michael, see:


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004 December; 75(12): 1672–1677.

doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2003.028761



PMCID: PMC1738871

Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson's disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study



R Katzenschlager, A Evans, A Manson, P Patsalos, N Ratnaraj, H Watt, L Timmermann, R Van der Giessen, and A Lees


Author information ► Copyright and License information ►



This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.



Background: The seed powder of the leguminous plant, Mucuna pruriens has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for diseases including parkinsonism. We have assessed the clinical effects and levodopa (L-dopa) pharmacokinetics following two different doses of mucuna preparation and compared them with standard L-dopa/carbidopa (LD/CD).

Methods: Eight Parkinson's disease patients with a short duration L-dopa response and on period dyskinesias completed a randomised, controlled, double blind crossover trial. Patients were challenged with single doses of 200/50 mg LD/CD, and 15 and 30 g of mucuna preparation in randomised order at weekly intervals. L-Dopa pharmacokinetics were determined, and Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale and tapping speed were obtained at baseline and repeatedly during the 4 h following drug ingestion. Dyskinesias were assessed using modified AIMS and Goetz scales.

Results: Compared with standard LD/CD, the 30 g mucuna preparation led to a considerably faster onset of effect (34.6 v 68.5 min; p = 0.021), reflected in shorter latencies to peak L-dopa plasma concentrations. Mean on time was 21.9% (37 min) longer with 30 g mucuna than with LD/CD (p = 0.021); peak L-dopa plasma concentrations were 110% higher and the area under the plasma concentration v time curve (area under curve) was 165.3% larger (p = 0.012). No significant differences in dyskinesias or tolerability occurred.

Conclusions: The rapid onset of action and longer on time without concomitant increase in dyskinesias on mucuna seed powder formulation suggest that this natural source of L-dopa might possess advantages over conventional L-dopa preparations in the long term management of PD. Assessment of long term efficacy and tolerability in a randomised, controlled study is warranted.

Full Text


The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (115K).



However, I do not know what preparation of mucuna was used in the study, thus have no way to compare it to the products listed at iherb. I would address your question to Dr. Okun who may have more information. -Kathrynne

Edited by Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Noah, fava beans contain levodopa, which is a pressor agent; it is generally thought that pressor agents could cause hypertensive crises in people using MAO inhibitors. However, tyramine is also a pressor, and the FDA has removed tyramine from its restriction; so you might talk with your neurologist about use of fava beans and see if s/he feels that they would be a problem for you.

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