Almost every week I receive inquiries from people asking if they can use a mucuna product they found on the internet that claims to be standardized to 98% L-dopa. The easy answer is “NO”, as there are numerous issues with these products that makes them unacceptable substitutes during amino acid therapy.

We have been working with amino acid therapy since 2001. In that time, we have seen and helped over 3000 people resolve symptoms related to neurotransmitter imbalance. Several of these nutrition-dependent symptoms are dopamine dominant, meaning that these people require more dopamine/catecholamine support than serotonin support, such as Parkinson’s-like relative nutritional deficiency (RND) symptoms. Mucuna pruriens is a bean that contains a naturally high amount of L-dopa and standardized mucuna products (standardized to L-dopa) can be a great source of L-dopa to allow the body to increase catecholamine/dopamine production.

Often times, people with Parkinson’s-like RND symptoms require large amounts of L-dopa to obtain relief. In an effort to take less product and to save money, many people head to the internet to find the highest potency product at the cheapest price. In my experience, this has never lead to the desired result and has actually cost the person more in time, money and suffering than using a lower potency product that is manufactured properly. There are two main reasons:

  1. Higher potency = more severe side effects. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person be able to convert from taking an ultra-low variance 40% mucuna product to a 98% mucuna product without severe side effects. I believe there are several reasons for this. One is getting the measurements right; to measure a 40% mucuna product for therapeutic use requires a scale which is accurate to 0.1 grams; to measure a 98% mucuna product requires a scale that is accurate to 0.01 grams, which almost nobody uses outside of the laboratory setting. But even if you were able to get an accurate measurement, there is still the issue of absorption and metabolism. My experience has shown me that 98% mucuna products seem to allow too much L-dopa into the system too quickly, leading to dramatic fluctuations in neurotransmitter levels, which almost always leads to adverse symptoms, including GI upset, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headaches, itchy skin, heart palpitations, insomnia and nervousness, amongst others.
  2. Variance. Most people that require L-dopa to help improve symptoms due to neurotransmitter imbalance need very specific amounts that need to be balanced with other amino acids. Variance is the accepted variability in the potency of a product and is determined by a manufacturer. To get desired results, we have only found an ultra-low variance product to work; specifically, we have found a 40% product that has a variance of 0.3% or less to be ideal. Any more variance than this leads to inaccurate dosing, sub-par results and increased side effects. Most products have a variance between 2% and 6%. I was just sent a certificate of analysis by a current client from a 40% mucuna product that showed the actual content of L-dopa was 42.53%; this is a variance of 6.325%. With a variance this high, it is nearly impossible to keep a person stable on a long-term basis as their L-dopa dosage is always bouncing around.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’d love to find a higher potency product that would allow a person to take less product at a reduce cost; however, these products are less expensive for a reason. It costs money to properly extract active substances (like L-dopa); it costs money to refine the manufacturing process to produce an ultra-pure, ultra-low variance product; and it costs money to do the testing necessary on raw materials and finished products to insure you are getting what you want and nothing else. People that are offering cheap standardized mucuna products online cannot possibly be doing these things, and if you use these products, you will (unfortunately) suffer the consequences.