The plant Mucuna is an annual climbing shrub with long vines that can reach over fifteen meters in length. About 100–150 Mucuna species are found in the tropic and subtropic regions of both hemispheres of the earth. The genus Mucuna belongs to the family Leguminosae. It is commonly known as Kewanch, velvet bean, cowhage and kappikachhu and is found widely in India as a hardy, herbaceous, vigorous, twining annual plant. The size and dimension of the Mucuna seeds, pods, platelets and leaves change from species to species. The hair present on pods is anthelmintic, which causes itching. People are seeking great attention towards Mucuna due to its several medicinal properties, including L-DOPA (L-3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) along with supplementary antioxidants that are used for treating Parkinson’s disease and many neurodegenerative diseases. Thus it is being used in about 200 medicinal formulations. The current chapter outlines the work that determines the influence of different nutritional, anti-nutritional and medicinal values and bioactive agents from different parts of the Mucuna species present in India and its importance in medicine.
- Parkinson\'s disease
Mucuna is a valuable genus of Leguminosae family; it has tremendous value in food and medicine. The genus Mucuna originated in Eastern India and China and then was transferred throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world creating new populations . Traditionally, Mucuna is known by different names including beans, buffalo beans, dopa bean, cowitch, kappikachhu and atmagupta. Out of 100 Mucuna species found worldwide, 8 species and 3 varieties of Mucuna are predominantly found in different localities of India [1, 2, 3, 4]. The Mucuna plant is an annual perennial climbing shrub with long vines having a length of 15–25 m with trifoliate leaves and yielding long inflorescences with purple or pale yellow flowers. They produce green or brown pods covered with rigid hair, which causes intense itching . Pods contain four to six ellipsoidal-shaped seeds that are rich dark brown or blotched  varying from species to species. Mucuna seeds are a rich source of nutritional, antinutritional and phytochemical compounds containing
Ancient reports of Ayurveda suggest that Mucuna seed powder contributes in reducing the risks of certain cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disease and also as a remedy for snake bite. The seeds of Mucuna have gained increasing attention among food scientists, nutrition specialists and pharmaceutical expertise due to their rich source of antioxidant, phenolic, flavonoids,
Mucuna grows best under moist, warm conditions and in areas with plenteous rainfall. It can propagate in any type of soil but sandy lome soil is mostly favorable with pH of 5.5–7.5. Several researchers have investigated different species having typical characteristics like size and shape of bracts, leaflets and pods, color, thickness, density as well as number of seeds in pod and flower, respectively . The evaluation of genetic-level studies of Mucuna species from India was also carried out using inter-simple sequence repeat markers and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA . The seeds show tolerance against different abiotic stress including low soil fertility and acidic pH and also grow in wet soils (Duke, 1981). Similar to different species, Mucuna also has 2n = 2x = 22 number of chromosomes with genome size ranging between 1281 and 1361 Mbp/C . Due to wild fluctuating climatic and geographical distribution, these species show gigantic diversity in phenotype in the Indian subcontinent. Corresponding to the family Leguminosae, it also has the ability of atmospheric nitrogen fixation. It is also grown for the potential utility in animal feed and human food due to its rich source of nutritional content [15, 16]. Thus, it was consumed universally for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Traditionally, in Ayurvedic science, Mucuna (velvet bean) plant is widely used to treat numerous diseases including parkinsonism [17, 18, 19, 20, 21] due to its
Mucuna is a superb source of protein and bioactive compounds that have increased consumption per capita after being considered as a functional food by the US . The previous literature survey shows that the declining occurrence of numerous long-lasting disorders, namely neurological disorder, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer, has a positive correlation with the consumption of legume seeds . Considering all the evident health profits, studying its bioactive compounds is of great importance. Among all the under-utilized Mucuna species, normally available and commonly used Mucuna pruriens seeds were studied enormously and have been reported in numerous of articles published till date. To avoid the burden on commonly available and used Mucuna Purience, various researchers are studying bioactive components and the use of other Mucuna species like M. imbracata, M. bracteata, M. monosperma, M. macrocarpa, M. sanjappae, M. atropurpurea, M. nigricans, M. gigantea, M. pruriens var hirsuta, M. laticifera, M. yadaviana, etc. in the treatment of various diseases [5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 49]. Phytochemistry, toxilogicalogycal and food potential on the Mucuna species under study in the world were described by Lorenzetti et al. .
2. Bioactive compounds from various parts of Mucuna species
2.1 Bioactive compounds from seeds of Mucuna
Seeds of Mucuna are commonly used part of the plant, which are a rich source of nutritional and anti-nutritional compounds like
2.2 Bioactive compounds from leaves and roots of Mucuna
The root extract of Mucuna has various activities like stimulant, thermogenic, purgative, emollient, diuretic anthelmintic, emmenagogue and tonic; hence, they are used in the vitiated circumstances in Veda and Ayurveda .
2.3 Bioactive compounds from callus of Mucuna
Production of callus from Mucuna plant material is a new era in the advancement of biochemical engineering and industrial biotechnology, which has the potential to produce different biologically active agents from the explant [45, 46]. Their application in cost-effective industrially important product formation is helpful for humankind, which upshots effective drug formulations and upsurges the nutritional level of food [47, 48].
2.4 Bioactive compounds from cell suspension of Mucuna
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) are stress-producing free radicals, but at usual level perform an important part in the physiology of the body  to accommodate the massive demands for
3. Use of different bioactive compounds from Mucuna in various application
3.1 Antioxidant activity of Mucuna species
Numerous studies on antioxidant activity and phytoconstituents content of Mucuna seeds, leaves and roots were performed previously [4, 7, 19, 30, 31, 59, 60, 61, 62]. Optimization of different solvents for the extraction of antioxidants was done by Aware and Patil et al. [9, 10, 26]. They concluded that depending on solubility of antioxidant compounds present in different species of Mucuna, concentration of antioxidants differs. Most commonly, ethanolic extract of Mucuna shows good antioxidant activity due to high phenolic content . Some reports also conclude that water is a universal solvent, which shows significant quantity of phenolic, flavonoids and strong antioxidants that can scavenge free radicals using different assays. Diseases like neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, aging, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation are caused by oxidative stresses, which are protected by ROS and RNS . LCMS report of four different species of Mucuna determines the presence of various components like phenolic, flavonoids and bioactive compounds, which are responsible for production of reactive species .
3.2 Antimicrobial activity of Mucuna species
There are several compounds in Mucuna that contribute for the antimicrobial activity as reported in a previous study [38, 43]. These compounds are responsible for the treatment of various infectious diseases and ulcers . The study on various plant pathogens suggests that methanolic extract of Mucuna pruriens seeds showed highest antimicrobial activity  from all used solvents. A similar type of study was done by Pujari et al., who concluded that methanol extract of seeds of Mucuna pruriens was found to impart the best inhibiting activity among all scrutinized pathogens as compared to ethanol and acetone solvents. But alcoholic extract of Mucuna pruriens (L.) leaves has significant antioxidant and antibacterial activity, which has strongly recommended the use of Mucuna leaves and seed extract in traditional as well as modern medicine .
3.3 Protective effect against snake venom
Snakebite kills countless people annually since ancient days . Various reports show the cross-reactivity between the enzyme of snake venom and protein from Mucuna, which determines the activity of Mucuna against snake venom [32, 67, 68, 69]. Betancur et al. in their review on therapeutics of antisnake venom explain the effectiveness of herbal plants, which act as coadjuvants and thus help to nullify the venom toxic action . In recent literature, Kasturiratne et al. studied the global scenario of snakebite and deaths. They also elucidate that various traditional medicines were sometimes preferred with western drugs . The protective effect of Mucuna in a study on mice or rat models proves that it has a good activity for curing snake bite, than few reported antivenom [71, 72].
3.4 Anti-Parkinson’s activity of Mucuna species
Parkinson’s disease (PD) was initially discovered by Dr. James Parkinson in 1817. It is a chronic neurological disorder triggered by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons present in the nigrostriatal part of the brain and found to be common in the US . The major signs of the disease are complications in body movements, speaking, walking and many more complications arise as the disease progresses. Anti-Parkinson’s potential of Mucuna is well known from ancient times due to its
3.5 Use of Mucuna species in soil fertility
Cover crops have a role in the nitrogen-fixing bacteria and improvement of soil fertility by restoration of soil nutrients. Enormous use of chemical fertilizer and water in soil makes soil infertile, to overcome this problem, farmers are implementing traditional methods to enhance soil fertility. Mucuna is one of the best examples of a cover crop that has a rich source of biological natural products, which will increase the enhance soil fertility and fix atmospheric nitrogen .
Mucuna is a medicinally and biochemically valuable plant used from ancient days, having a large market value due to the presence of a large number of bioactive compounds. The content of phytochemical compounds and other bioactive agents present in Mucuna fluctuates from species to species.
Suresh Suryawanshi sincerely thanks the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for providing SRF fellowship [Award No. 45/6/2019/MP/BMS]. Vishwas A. Bapat thanks the National Academy of Sciences, India, for the honorary scientist fellowship. Prof. Jyoti P. Jadhav sincerely thanks the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for “Interdisciplinary Programme of Life Sciences for Advanced Research and Education (IPLS-Reference No: BT/PR4572/INF/22/147/2012)”.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.