A Facebook user ascribed great health benefits to the direct application of velvet bean on the skin.
Although it has great medicinal components, velvet beans should not be applied directly on the skin in any way except if prescribed by a physician( which is rare or not even possible).
A Facebook post shared to a group by Danny Tripp says that the plant velvet beans, when applied on the body, will lighten the skin, “cure enzymes”, remove black spots, softens and nourish the body.
How “Magical” is this Velvet Bean?
Mucuna prurience (botanical name) is popularly known as Velvet beans. Other names used to describe it include Hellfire bean or itchy bean; Agbala or Agbaloko to the Igbos; Karara in Hausa and Werepe in Yoruba.
It is an annual climbing shrub with long vines that can reach over 15 m in length. It is almost completely covered with fuzzy hairs; but when older, it is almost completely free of hairs.
Where can it be found?
Mucuna Pruriens or velvet bean is present in tropical parts of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. It is known for its valuable medicinal properties and has been investigated in various contexts for its anti-diabetic, aphrodisiac, anti-epileptic and anti-microbial properties.
Neuroprotection and Anti-venom
Mucuna Pruriens (MP) is also a herbal drug that manages male infertility, nervous disorders, and a potent aphrodisiac. This may in part be due to its antiparkinson and neuroprotective effects, which also stem from its antioxidizing nature. Indeed ancient Indian medical systems used this as a herbal drug to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Additionally, velvet bean is a known anti-venom drug. Practitioners attest to this, adding that it can offer a year-long protection when its seed is swallowed intact. Some of these instances are native to Nigeria, Plateau State to be exact. Furthermore, it’s anti-nutritional factors such as protease inhibitors render anti-diabetic effects.
Don’t Touch the Hair!
Regardless of all these health benefits, there are a few no-nos. The bean pod should not be applied directly on the skin or eaten as the hair on the velvet bean pod is UNSAFE. It is a strong irritant and can cause severe itching, burning, and swelling. This, however, does not to apply to special preparations by specialists.
The chemical compounds responsible for the itch are the protein mucunain and serotonin.
Wait a minute
Interestingly, extracts of MP methanolic show a downregulation of protein expression and suppression of 4HNE in human keratinocytes (cells formed on the outer skin- keratin constitutes over 90% of the epidermis). These relate to skin diseases and their cellular manifestations. This is the basis for preliminary studies that are investigating the effect of MP methanolic extract on skin diseases such as Psoriasis, Dermatitis and Eczema.
However, there is currently no concrete study by “scientists”, contrary to the user’s views. These are still preliminary findings!
Velvet bean shows great promise as a herbal drug, not as a skincare product. We advise you NOT to apply it directly on the skin, other than the aforementioned usage (doctor’s prescription). It will NOT lighten the skin, cure eczema, remove black spots, soften or nourish the body. It will, however, cause serious itching!