Mucuna Pruriens for post-breakup depression

The time immediately following a difficult breakup often is accompanied by both sadness and a manic state of mind. Your temporary insanity may lead you to beg, bribe or threaten your ex to come back. Though this time is extremely unpleasant, your energy levels are far from low. But once you have recovered from the breakup mania, your energy levels may completely drop. In some cases, depression may develop. If you satisfy several of the following conditions, you may suffer from depression.

  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Mental confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Depressed mood
  • Crying spells
  • Nervousness
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Lack of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Irritability
  • Overeating or lack of appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts

If your depression is severe, you may want to ask your physician for an antidepressant. However, a dietary supplement may suffice for milder depressive states.

One promising dietary supplement for depression is Mucuna Pruriens seed extract, which is available over the counter. Mucuna Pruriens is a legume native to India. The seeds of this legume contain a number of chemicals that may be beneficial for improving mood and energy and the ability to experience pleasure.

Depression is associated with imbalances in the brain’s levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. According to a study published in the September 2004 issue of Phytotherapy Research, Mucuna Pruriens seed extract can help restore the levels of these neurotransmitters.

The main chemical believed to be responsible for the restorative effects of the Indian legume is levodopa, also known as “L-Dopa.” Pure forms of L-dopa play an important role in the management of Parkinsonism, a disease characterized by low levels of dopamine and an associated lack of muscle control.

L-dopa is the precursor for dopamine and norepinephrine. Pure L-dopa is not normally used for the treatment of depression, as it can give rise to serious side effects, such as tics and other involuntary repetitive movements. However, none of these side effects occur when L-dopa is supplied in the form of Mucuna Pruriens seed extract.

L-dopa does not directly affect serotonin levels. The brain’s levels of serotonin are usually lowered in people with depression.  Restoring the brain’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine may lead to increased energy, motivation and self-esteem and a renewed ability to experience pleasure. But it may not help with sadness, crying spells and nervousness, as these conditions primarily are a function of stable serotonin levels. If you experience continued nervousness or sadness after taking Mucuna Pruriens for two weeks, consider taking St. John’s Wort, an over-the-counter dietary supplement that can help increase serotonin levels.


Manyam, BV, Muralikrishnan, D, Hare, TA. (2004). “Neuroprotective Effects of the Antiparkinsonian Drug Mucuna Pruriens”, Phytotherapy Research 18: 706-712.

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