With the high-stress environment most of us are accustomed to these days, it’s no wonder that we have a hard time slowing down and knowing exactly how to decompress from a long day. I mean, let’s face it, most of us don’t know how to take a break. And while exercise can help you decompress, it’s still putting more physical stress on your body.
That’s why we included L-DOPA/mucuna pruriens to our intra-sport supplement, Revival, as it has a positive impact on stress management. However, this is only one of the benefits of this amino acid and antioxidant duo.
But first, what is L-DOPA, exactly?
L-DOPA is an amino acid (also known as levodopa) and precursor of dopamine, but it plays a role in epinephrine and norepinephrine as well. You may recognize the name as it’s a popular treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. L-DOPA is naturally produced in animals and plants and produced from the amino acid, L-tyrosine. (1)
Tyrosine hydroxylase is an enzyme (a catalyst for biochemical reactions) that uses tetrahydrobiopterin (also known as B4) to convert tyrosine to L-DOPA.
Unlike dopamine, L-DOPA has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This is how it increases dopamine in the brain. (2) You see, the blood-brain barrier acts as a filter, allowing some substances in while keeping others out. Once L-DOPA passes the barrier, it’s taken up by dopaminergic neurons that convert it to dopamine and increase these neurons levels of dopamine and storage. This is why it’s used in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease and other brain diseases.
Pretty crazy, huh?
The high levels of L-DOPA in Revival can also be found in mucuna pruriens. Mucuna pruriens is referred to as a natural herbal supplement originating from ancient Indian medical practices although it’s technically a legume that grows in the tropics. This adaptogen can be used to lower stress, reduce anxiety, improve focus, boost libido and improve mood. (3) These benefits are due to the levels of L-DOPA found within this “dopa bean”.
Now that we’ve taken a deeper look at what L-DOPA is, what are the benefits of this amino acid?
Some may consider L-DOPA a nootropic or “smart drug” due to its ability to improve cognitive function in healthy individuals. L-DOPA and caffeine are similar in that they can be classified as nootropics. There are several studies to better explain these positive effects. One study took 40 healthy subjects and gave them 100mg of L-DOPA or a placebo for five days. 90 minutes later on each day, the subjects were trained on artificial vocabulary. L-DOPA was shown to enhance the speed, overall success and long-term retention of word learning. (4)
Some studies looking at patients with Parkinson's Disease showed that L-DOPA was able to prevent the decrease in testosterone levels. (5) This is thought to be due to dopamine’s ability to inhibit prolactin (a hormone responsible for lowering the levels of luteinizing hormone and testosterone).
Mucuna pruriens (a natural source of L-DOPA as mentioned above) was shown to increase testosterone levels in infertile men from ages 25 to 40. (6) Treatment with mucuna pruriens significantly improved dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline as well.
As L-DOPA (levodopa) is the main treatment for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease, it’s no wonder there are an abundant amount of studies on subjects with this disease. When it comes to mental alertness L-DOPA has the ability to induce higher levels of alertness when compared to other treatments. (7)
Who doesn’t need a good bit of motivation every now and then? Believe it or not, some studies have shown that consuming L-DOPA can actually improve your motivation. How was this measured? Healthy subjects in an MRI study showed increased brain activation related to punishment processing. (8)
Sure, L-DOPA can improve alertness and motivation, but can it reduce your stress levels? One study says yes. When researching mucuna pruriens and its effect on stress levels, it seemed to reduce stress while increasing the quality of semen in infertile men.
One study took a look at 120 men over the course of three months. One half of the group had high cortisol levels and were undergoing fertility screening while the other half of the men had initiated a pregnancy at some point. For these three months, the infertile men were given only 5 grams of mucuna pruriens a day.
Their cortisol levels were also tested and given a psychological assessment. After the three months, their sperm count increased to the same as the fertile group while their cortisol levels significantly decreased. (9)
Who knew you could find this amazing amino acid in an intra-workout supplement? Whether you’re training hard or working hard at the office, the results from supplementing with L-DOPA can create a significant difference in your everyday life.
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