Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)
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Mucuna pruriens Bak., Leguminosae, is one of the popular medicinals of India. and is constituent of more than 200 indigenous drug formulations It is widespread over most of the subcontinent and is found in bushes and hedges and dry-deciduous, low forests throughout the plains of India. (Sister and Kavathekar 1990; Agharkar 1991; Singh et al. 1996 ). All parts of Mucuna posses valuable medicinal properties (Pandey 1998; Pandey 1999; Caius 1989 ) and there is a heavy demand of Mucuna in Indian drug markets. After the discovery that Mucuna seeds contain L-dopa, an anti-parkinson’s disease drug, its demand in international market has increased many fold (Farooqi 1999) and demand has motivated Indian farmers to start commercial cultivation.
Mucuna is an annual twinning plant.. Leaves are trifoliate, gray-silky beneath; petioles are long and silky, 6.3–11.3 cm. Leaflets are membranous, terminal leaflets are smaller, lateral very unequal sided. Dark purple flowers (6 to 30) occur in drooping racemes. Fruits are curved, 4–6 seeded. The longitudinally ribbed pod, is densely covered with persistent pale-brown or grey trichomes that cause irritating blisters. Seeds are black ovoid and 12 mm long (Sastry and Kavathekar 1990; Agharkar 1991; Verma et al. 1993).
Roots, according to the Ayurveda, are bitter, thermogenic, anthelmintic, diuretic, emollient, stimulant, aphrodisiac, purgative, febrifuge, tonic. It is considered useful to relieve constipation, nephropathy, strangury, dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea, elephantiasis, dropsy, neuropathy, consumption, ulcers, helminthiasis, fever, and delirum (Lindley 1985; Ramnath 1992; Warrier 1995; Shalini 1997; Upadhyay 2000).
Leaves are popular potherbs and are used as a fodder crop. Leaves are useful in ulcers, inflammation, cephalagia and general debility.
The trichomes of pods contain mucunain and serotonin and as a result pod causes itching, blisters, and dermatitis. Pods are also used as vegetable. Pod hairs (trichomes) are used as anthelmintic. Hairs mixed with honey have been used as vermifuge. As ointment prepared with hairs act as a local stimulant and mild vesicant. (Shastry and Kavathekar 1990; Chandra 1993; Shastry 1995) Beside medicinal properties, Mucuna fixes nitrogen and is as a green manure and covercrop.
Seeds contain L-DoPA (4-3,4-dihydroxy phenylalanine), glutathione, lecithin, gallic acid, glycosides, nicotine, prurenine, prurenidine, dark brown viscous oil. It is a source of minerals (Rastogi and Mehrotra 1991a,b; Singh et al. 1995). According to Ayurveda, seeds are astringent, laxative, anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, alexipharmic and tonic.
Mucuna is a popular kharif crop in India. Seeds are sown at rate of 50 kg/ha between 15 June to 15th July with plant spacing of 60 × 60 cm. Delayed sowing may result in infestation of aphids (Aphis craccivora) (Oudhia 2001a ). Although, no named cultivar of Mucuna is available, locally available seeds possess good viability and higher germination (Oudhia 2001b). Plant support increases yield 25% and reduces pest infestation. Normally flowering begins 45–50 days after sowing. (Oudhia and Tripathi 2001). Yields of 5000 kg/ha have been recorded from well managed irrigated crop having supports. (Singh et al. 1995; Farooqi et al. 1999)
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