Daily intake of Mucuna pruriens in advanced Parkinson's disease: A 16-week, noninferiority, randomized, crossover, pilot study

Roberto Cilia, Janeth Laguna, Erica Cassani, Emanuele Cereda, Benedetta Raspini, Michela Barichella, Gianni Pezzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Thousands of individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) in low-income countries have limited access to marketed levodopa preparations. Mucuna pruriens (MP), a levodopa-containing leguminous plant growing in tropical areas, may be a sustainable alternative therapy for indigent patients. Single-dose intake of MP proved noninferior to marketed levodopa preparations. Methods: Fourteen PD patients with motor fluctuations and dyskinesias received MP powder (obtained from roasted seeds) and marketed levodopa/carbidopa (LD/CD) in a randomized order and crossover design over a 16-week period. Efficacy measures were changes in quality of life, motor and non-motor symptoms, and time with good mobility without troublesome dyskinesias. Safety measures included tolerability, frequency of adverse events, changes in laboratory indices and electrocardiogram. Results: Daily intake of MP was associated with a variable clinical response, especially in terms of tolerability. Seven patients (50%) discontinued MP prematurely due to either gastrointestinal side-effects (n = 4) or progressive worsening of motor performance (n = 3), while nobody discontinued during the LD/CD phase. In those who tolerated MP, clinical response to MP was similar to LD/CD on all efficacy outcome measures. Patients who dropped out entered a study extension using MP supernatant water (median[IQR], 16 [7-20] weeks), which was well tolerated. Conclusions: The overall benefit provided by MP on the clinical outcome was limited by tolerability issues, as one could expect by the relatively rapid switch from LD/CD to levodopa alone in advanced PD. Larger parallel-group studies are needed to identify appropriate MP formulation (e.g. supernatant water), titration scheme and maintenance dose to minimize side-effects in the long-term. Clinical Trials.gov identifier: NCT02680977.

Original languageEnglish
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Clinical trials randomized controlled (CONSORT agreement)
  • Levodopa
  • Mucuna pruriens
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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