KAPIKACCHU (Mucuna pruriens)
Kapikachu enjoys an important place among aphrodisiac herbs in India since ancient times. Susruta mentions the use of the seeds as promoters of virility, as also Bhavamisra. It is categorized as visya – the substance that improves sexual vitality and functioning. Its use as an anthelmintic has also been mentioned in older books on traditional medicine. Yogaratnakara has a reference to its use in a formulation for tremors.
The literal meaning of the word kapikacchu is, one who scratches the body like a monkey. The surface of the pods of this climber is covered with bristles, which are allergic to the skin. On touching, it gives intensive itching sensation. Hence, aptly it has named as kapikacchu. It is also called as markati as the furred surface of its pods resembles to that of monkey’s skin.
Kapikacchu is a common twiner, extensively distributed all over India, from the Himalayan foot hills and the plains of Punjab to Sri Lanka. It is a large half – woody twiner, with long slender cylindrical branches. The leaves are 15- 20 cm ling, alternate, trifoliate, with ovate leaflets 7-12 cm long. The flowers large shortly stalked, in clusters and purple in color. The fruits, turgid pods, clothed with brown or grey irritant bristles. The seeds, 4-6 per pod, are black and ovoid or bean shaped, about 1 cm in diameter.
The botanical name of kapikacchu is Mucuna pruriens and it belongs to red viscous oil, and the alkaloids mucunine and mucunadine. The seeds also contain L – 3 – 4 dihydroxy phenylalanines (L-DOPA), which is very effective in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The spicular hairs contain 5- hydroxytry – ptamine and a proteolytic enzyme – mucanain. Plant extractive showed marked hypotensive and hypocholestero – laemic effects in normal rats.
Kapikacchu has sweet and bitter taste, sweet post digestive effect and hot potency. It alleviates vata, pitta and kapha, all the three doshas. It possesses heavy and unctuous attributes. It helps in nourishing all the tissue elements (dhatu) in the body, especially semen in the males.
It is seldom used externally. The seeds, roots and the bristles on its pods have great medicinal value. The seeds can be taken by it. It is the most commonly used ingredient in many tonics for impotency and for enhancing sexual vitality. It also works well as a restorative for conditions of debility and weakness.
The seed powders of kapikacchu and kokilaksa impart very potent effect, when taken with sugar and followed by milk. It augments the seminal fluids, vitality and the vigor. The hot infusion of the seeds is an excellent panacea for premature ejaculation in men. The seeds are useful as a galactogouge in lactating mothers.
The roots of this plant are diuretic. The decoction of the roots is beneficial in renal problems and dysuria. The roots also help regulating the menstrual cycle. They are useful to enhance the sexual vigour in women. The root powder, for this purpose, mixed with sugar, ghee and honey works well. In vata diseases like facial palsy, cervical spondylosis, Parkinson’s disease, paralysis etc, the decoction of kapikacchu is rewarding.
The bristles of the pods, filled in gelatin capsules, are used with benefit in intestinal worm infestations, especially in round worms. The seed powder, combined with honey, is commonly used as a general tonic. In bronchial asthma, the seed powder, honey and ghee are an effective combination.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Vanari gutika
- Masabaladi pacana
- Vajikarana ghrta
- Brmhana gutika etc.