How Adaptogens Can Help Against Battle with Depression
Updated: Jul 20
In this article we will cover a couple of our favorite plants that can be used to fight depression - Ashwagandha and Mucuna.
MUCUNA PRURIENS AKA L-DOPA
Mucuna pruriens is a tropical legume native to Africa and tropical Asia known as the dopamine bean as it contains L-dopa, which is a precursor to dopamine – the pleasure hormone that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when something amazing happens.
In her book Rainforest Remedies, Leslie Taylor writes at length about one of my favorite adaptogens that I incorporate into my tea routine daily - Mucuna aka L-Dopa - below:
"In Central America, velvet beans have been roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute for decades; its goes by the common name of "nescafé" in these regions, as well as in Brazil, for this reason. It is still grown as a food crop by the Ketchi indigenous people in Guatemala; the bean is cooked as a vegetable. In Brazil the seed has been used internally for Parkinson's disease, edema, impotence, intestinal gas, and worms. It is considered a diuretic, nerve tonic, and aphrodisiac.
The seeds of velvet bean are high in protein, carbohydrates, lipids, fiber, and minerals. They are also rich in novel alkaloids, saponins, and sterols. The seeds of all mucuna species contain a high concentration of L-dopa; velvet bean seeds contain 7-10% L-dopa. Concentrations of serotonin also have been found in the pod, leaf and fruit."
BENEFITS OF L-DOPA
Increases catecholamine concentrations which induce feelings of well-being
Helps fight anxiety without making you tired
Increases energy levels and alertness
Supports feelings of pleasure and euphoria
"Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic plant (plants that have the power to modulate your stress response) with medicinal properties in humans. Ashwagandha contains a variety of medicinal components, such as choline, saponins and steroidal lactones.
Clinical research has grown significantly on the therapeutic effects of ashwagandha in recent decades.
Findings are rather compelling that this herb has a multitude of beneficial properties in humans, especially for fighting stress, anxiety and illness. Some research even suggests that ashwagandha is effective for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome."
The 5 most pertinent research-backed benefits of ashwagandha supplementation include:
Natural anxiety and stress-reducing properties
Potent anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties
Supports the immune system
Strongly inhibits cortisol/stress hormone production
Source: The Beginner's Guide to Anxiety Supplements