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Kapikacchu is a tonic to the whole reproductive system in both men and women

Kapikacchu

Mucuna pruriens Fabaceae

This broad bean sized seed is a superb restorative to the reproductive system. Like many seeds it has the ability to potentiate the reproductive tissue as well as the nervous system. It is also used to treat tremors and spasms. The surface of the seed pods are ‘velvety’ like a monkey’s skin. It is also an allergenic which causes an itch, hence the name ‘one who scratches like a monkey’. Atmagupta means ‘secret self’ referring to its therapeutic seed concealed within the irritating bean pod.

  • How does it feel?

    Kapikacchu is a creeping, evergreen climber that can reach heights of up to 3 metres. It has characteristically soft and downy leaves that can grow to 45cm in length. It produces clusters of purple or white, pea-like flowers during the summer that are then followed by flattened pods that grow up to 9cm in length and are soft and velvety to the touch. The pods contain 3-6 seeds that are a dark brown-orange in colour and are covered in irritant bristles. Kapikacchu is native to India and common to tropical climates where it is commonly grown as cattle fodder. There are black and white varieties of this plant.

  • What can I use it for?

    Kapikacchu contains the amino acid levodopa (L-dopa), an essential precursor of dopamine. L-dopa has demonstrated the ability to breakdown monoamine oxidase (MAO), a primary indicator in Parkinson’s disease, but also in conditions characterised by nervous paralysis, cramping, tremors and spasms.

    Certain alkaloids in kapikacchu increase the numbers of spermatozoa and levels of testosterone and androgens. Kapikacchu has also demonstrated improvements in levels of libido and stamina in both women and men, with increased levels of sex hormones.

  • Into the heart of Kapikacchu

    Kapikacchu is considered as a restorative to the nervous and reproductive system, with a specific indication in Parkinson’s disease. It is an excellent remedy for any nervous condition that is characterised by areas of numbness, paralysis, tremours or loss of nervous control. The presence of L-dopa in kapikacchu makes it excellent for any form of dopamine deficiency or dopamine influenced condition. The ability of kapikacchu to calm nervous spasms, has also made it a useful herb in treating digestive cramping and spasms that are exacerbated by nervous tension and stress.

    In Ayurveda, kapikacchu is viewed as the ultimate restorative and tonic to the male and female reproductive system. It will rejuvenate and strengthen the organs themselves but also improves overall libido, vigour and stamina.

    Kapikacchu is a tonic to the whole reproductive system in both men and women, treating low libido, infertility, impotence, spermatorrhoea and premature ejaculation. It is considered to be one of the ultimate Ayurvedic reproductive tonics for both men and women.

    As it contains L-Dopa, it is a specific remedy for Parkinson’s disease (noted for the severe loss of dopamine from the basal ganglia). Its overall influence on the nervous system indicates its use in paralysis, spasms, twitching, tremors and cramps.

    The anti-spasmodic function of kapikachu can help alleviate intestinal spasms, pain and gas.

  • Did you know?

    One of the common names of this herb is ‘cowhage’ reflecting its traditional use and cultivation as cattle fodder.

Additional information

  • Safety

    Not for people on medication of Levodopa.

  • Dosage

    5–15g/day as powder or in a decoction, or 6–20ml of a 1:3 in 25% tincture.

  • Traditional energetics

    • Rasa (taste) Sweet, bitter.
    • Virya (action) Hot.
    • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet.
    • Guna (quality) Heavy, unctuous.
    • Dosha effect: VP-, K+.
    • Dhatu (tissue) All tissues, especially nerve, reproductive.
    • Srotas (channels) Nervous, reproductive, digestive.
kapikacchu illustration
Aromatic
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitter
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Cooling
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Hot
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilaginous
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resinous
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
Salty
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
Sharpness
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
Sweet
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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