Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. (= M. prurita (L.) Hook.)

DeFilipps, Robert A. & Krupnick, Gary A., 2018, The medicinal plants of Myanmar, PhytoKeys 102, pp. 1-341: 87-88

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Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. (= M. prurita (L.) Hook.)


Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. (= M. prurita (L.) Hook.) 


Myanmar: gwin-nge, hko-mak-awa, khwele, khwe-ya, khwe-laya, to-ma-awn, pwekonclaw (Mon), ra, yan-nung (Chin), hko-ma-awn (Shan). English: common cowitch, cowhage, cowitch, velvet bean.


Himalyas, India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and Malaysia. In Myanmar, found in Bago, Chin, Kayin, Mandalay, Sagaing, Shan, and Yangon.


Known for a bitter-sweet taste, cooling properties, and control of flatulence and gall bladder. Leaf: Boiled, eaten with fish paste or fish sauce as a dip, is used as a remedy for male maladies; it is also given to mothers to increase lactation, prevent vomiting, and stop bleeding. Fruit: Used as a de-worming medicine; also pulverized and mixed with water, then ingested as a remedy for urination problems. Seed: Used in a tonic. The seeds and seed cases are used in preparations to increase sperm, stimulate lactation, improve circulation, promote vitality and weight gain, expel intestinal worms, and strengthen the senses. Seed cases are rubbed on affected areas to alleviate numbness. Stir-fried or otherwise cooked young seeds are eaten to stop vomiting and bleeding. Fried in butter, they are given to promote strength and weight gain. Crushed seeds are used to make a poultice applied to scorpion and centipede bites. They are also used in medicines to increase strength and vitality, to cure venereal diseases and paralysis, and to stimulate formation of new tissue in the healing of sores and wounds. A mixture of powdered seeds and milk is used to increase sperm and stimulate lactation, and one of equal amounts of the pulverized seeds, root, and sugar is taken for health and vitality; it is also considered extremely beneficial for the vitality of semen. Root: Serves as an emmenagogue, tonic, aphrodisiac, and purgative. Boiled in water and reduced to one-third the starting volume, given with honey for cholera. With diuretic properties, they are used in preparations to strengthen the blood vessels. Root powder mixed with water is taken for dysentery. To treat edema in the abdominal area, crushed root is rubbed onto the stomach; to reduce edema in the joints of fingers and toes, it is formed into pieces and tied to the affected areas; the juice can be taken daily to cure paralysis and atrophied arms. Filtered oil from cooking root powder is rubbed onto affected areas to alleviate enlargement and hardening from elephantiasis.


In India the root is used as a tonic, diuretic, purgative; for nervous and renal diseases, dropsy; and for elephantiasis. The hairs on the pods are employed for stomach worms; the seed is used for impotency, urinary calculus, tonic, and as an aphrodisiac ( Jain and DeFilipps 1991). In Pakistan the root is also employed to remedy nervous disorders, and delirium ( Neptune-Rouzier 1997). In China, Guam, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, and Indonesia the uses of this species are noted as being similar to those of the other species in the genus ( Perry 1980).

The chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, and traditional medicinal uses of this plant on a worldwide basis are discussed in detail by Ross (1999), who notes that the chemical compound mucunaine, found in this species, is an irritant causing pruritus. The chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and use of this species as a hunting poison and medicinal plant in Africa are discussed by Neuwinger (1994). Details of the active chemical compounds, effects, herbal usage and pharmacological literature of this plant are given in Fleming (2000).


Nordal (1963), Agricultural Corporation (1980), Forest Department (1999).