Just like serotonin can’t cross the brain-blood barrier, and to increase its levels, we have to ingest its precursor, 5-HTP, dopamine too cannot cross the brain-blood barrier. Its precursors, including L-DOPA and other amino acids, however, can.
What are the benefits of using L-DOPA as a sleep and dreams supplement? And how does it work exactly?
L-DOPA is a popular drug used to combat Parkinson’s disease by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain, which appears to be abnormally low in these patients.
Once L-DOPA has entered the central nervous system, it is converted into dopamine by the enzyme aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, also known as DOPA decarboxylase.
As a dream supplement, when L-DOPA is taken in the night time, it greatly increases dream frequency and vividness without necessarily increasing REM sleep. While dopamine may also profoundly affect lucid dreaming, it is mostly used to promote non-lucid dreams.
Apparently, L-DOPA may also be used as a nootropic, improving verbal episodic memory and episodic memory encoding.
Let’s begin by going over what exactly dopamine is.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with stimulant and pleasurable effects, which plays a role in learning, controlling movement and balance, and in the body’s natural reward system (and thus in motivation.)
Elevated levels of dopamine may make people feel euphoric, confident, alert, and even aggressive, while decreased levels may be associated with being tired, forgetful, and lacking drive, vitality, self-esteem, and libido.
Dopamine levels may go up in the fall and fall during the spring, making seasonal supplementation a thing to consider, especially if these changes are reflected in your mood and energy levels.
How does dopamine affect sleep and dreams though?
Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may be caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain. In fact, Parkinson’s patients are treated with a drug that increases their dopamine levels. Interestingly, when they are treated with the drug before going to sleep, they experience vivid dreams, which are longer than usual, even nightmarish at times.
Dopamine dreams sometimes resemble an action movie, where you are a hero who has to actively overcome some kind of adversary. By increasing your confidence and motivation levels, you can reach a high level of control over your dream, and perhaps even attain lucidity.
What is that drug which increases levels of dopamine in the brain of Parkinson’s patients?
As I already noted above, dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Its precursor, L-DOPA, on the other hand, is able to enter the brain, where it is converted into dopamine.
To get L-DOPA, you need a prescription from a medical doctor.
Just tap into the power of plants and get a Mucuna pruriens supplement. (And by doing that also avoid a host of horrible side effects that may come when using the synthetic L-DOPA drug.)
Mucuna pruriens is a plant which naturally contains relatively high levels of L-DOPA.
Alternatively, you can take phenylalanine or tyrosine, both are amino acids which are also dopamine precursors. The essential amino acid phenylalanine is converted by the brain to tyrosine, then to L-DOPA, and finally to dopamine.
A good source of phenylalanine is soybeans.
Sources of tyrosine include peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy products, lima beans, avocados, and bananas. When ingesting tyrosine, make sure to include a good source of vitamin C to increase the chances that the tyrosine would be converted to L-DOPA.
There are at least two huge benefits of using natural L-DOPA rather than the synthetic version or eating a protein-rich meal that is packed with phenylalanine and tyrosine.
First, when you use the synthetic version, there is a chance that dopamine will also be created outside the brain, which may cause many side effects. Thus, another drug (carbidopa) is taken along to prevent this from happening. For some unknown reason, this is not a problem with the L-DOPA that naturally occurs in Mucuna pruriens.
The benefit of using Mucuna pruriens rather than eating a protein-rich meal is that in the latter case, other amino acids may compete for entry to the brain.
Another option is to take pure phenylalanine/tyrosine, although some of the L-phenylalanine may be converted to a different substance. The rest will be converted to L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine may convert to L-DOPA, but might also be converted directly to dopamine through a minor pathway, or to other, unrelated substances.
It is for these reasons that I prefer using Mucuna pruriens over taking synthetic L-DOPA, eating a protein-rich meal, or taking pure phenylalanine/tyrosine.
A plant used by Ayurvedic healers for hundreds or thousands of years as a tonic and aphrodesiac and to treat snakebites and Parkinson’s disease, Mucuna pruriens is said to also contain N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and 5-MeO-DMT, making it a possible hallucinogen and entheogen, which was sometimes used as an Ayahuasca admixture (In Ayurveda the MAOI component was often a plant known as Tribulus terrestris).Indeed, the enzyme MAO breaks down dopamine, which means that ingesting a MAO inhibitor along with Mucuna pruriens may strengthen the effects of L-DOPA.
Mucuna pruriens also contains L-DOPA and trace amounts of serotonin and 5-HTP, nicotine, and bufotenine (a possible psychoactive alkaloid which also occurs in the skin of some psychoactive toads, specifically of the Bufo genus).
The dried leaves when smoked are said (PDF) to produce a tryptamine buzz, especially when accompanied by 3 grams of Peganum harmala (a MAOI), which may induce the perception of colorful geometric patterns. Its roasted beans have been used for decades as coffee substitute in Central and South America.
Today, Mucuna pruriens is also sometimes used for treating anxiety, arthritis, worm infestations, and hyperprolactinemia. It can also be used to relieve pain and fever and to induce vomiting.
Applying it topically may help with joint and muscle pain, stimulate surface blood flow in conditions that involve paralysis, and treat scorpion stings.
If you are using plant material, then you can easily extract L-DOPA from Mucuna pruriens by soaking it in boiling water, and then cold water, ideally acidic water (add some lemon or vinegar).
How to Use Mucuna Pruriens and L-DOPA
The amount of L-DOPA in your Mucuna pruriens extract will depend on its standardization. Using plant material, such as seeds, is not recommended since it makes it difficult to know how much L-DOPA you’re getting.
It’s recommended to go with low concentrations, such as a 10-15% standardized extract.
L-DOPA reaches its peak plasma level about 1-1.5 hours after ingestion. It’s elimination half-life is 90 minutes, meaning that its plasma concentration is halved about every ninety minutes. After 12 hours it’s practically out of your system.
The dosage of L-DOPA you will want to take depends on your goal.
If you are using the supplement in an effort to enhance your lucid dreams (e.g., to bring more confidence, vividness, and control to your lucid dreams) or if you are using it with lucid dream induction supplements, then you will not need more than 80-100 mg of L-DOPA. (But if using L-DOPA with galantamine, you should take 4-8 mg galantamine, and 250-750 mg choline if you use it, about one hour after taking the L-DOPA; in this case you can take up to 200 mg of L-DOPA).
If you’re taking L-DOPA on its own to experience more vivid, action-packed non-lucid dreams, then you can take up to 400-600 mg of L-DOPA per day.
Vitamin B6, a supplement often used to improve dream recall, should not be taken with L-DOPA since it catalyzes the synthesize of dopamine from L-DOPA. Taking the two supplements together may cause much of the L-DOPA to be converted to dopamine before reaching the brain.
Side Effects and Warnings
Possible side effects of us L-DOPA may include nausea, vomiting, cramping, arrhythmias, hypotension, gastrointestinal bleeding, disturbed respiration, hair loss, disorientation and confusion, anxiety, excessive libido, extreme emotional states, insomnia, auditory/visual hallucinations, somnolence, narcolepsy, stimulant psychosis, effects on learning (improve working memory while impairing other complex functions), over stimulation, increased body temperature, and dyskinesias (sudden, involuntary, jerky movements).
According to some studies, it may lead to an increased risk of birth defects so do not take it during pregnancy.
Ask your doctor before using this powerful supplement, especially if you suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, low blood sugar, liver disease, skin cancer, stomach/intestinal ulcers, mental illness, or if you are taking any medications.
Do not take L-DOPA 2 weeks before going through surgery.
Next, we shall take a look at what people experience after taking L-DOPA via Mucuna pruriens.
Mucuna Pruriens Experiences
Before using any psychoactive drug or supplement, it is beneficial to prepare by reading about other people’s experiences. Many such experiences with Mucuna pruriens are described on Erowid.org. Below you will find some interesting excerpts.
a slight increase in mental agility and alertness. When combined with caffeine it makes an excellent tool for anything that requires a lot of concentration such as programming.
When I mix mucana purienes [‘8 caps’] and alcohol it creates a warm opiate like experience (complete with itch and euphoria). This is something I have come across randomly, while going through heroin withdrawal
Since I have been on it I dream every single night, Vivid Colourful dreams and they are amazing to the extent that I remember almost all of them when I wake up. Not only that but my imagination is also just as clear and vivid.
The stuff was soaking in rum for about 3 days. The experience from drinking one glass of the beverage combined with water was mildly hallucinogenic for about one hour.
I smoked some of this stuff combined/rolled in tobacco, moistening it in my hands to make it sticky (like hash oil or oily hash or very similar) and felt something. Head rush, spaced out… all for a very short time.
I stopped taking my Adderall rx last week (20mg IR twice a day) because of growing tolerance and reluctance to up the dose or switch meds, which I’ve been doing for many years. I ordered Mucuna pruriens 1000 mg capsules. For almost 5 days now I’ve been taking 1 cap early in the morning, and second during early to mid-afternoon. […] I am blown away by this herb! I need to research more on whether it can be a daily thing or whether it’s best used for an Adderall/ amphetamine reset. It feels better than the best days on the rx meds- because I can’t really tell that I’ve taken anything and because there is no crash or irritability at the end of the day. Too good to be true?
began studying straight away. About half an hour into my reading, I noticed how concentrated I was on it, and actually felt myself absorbing the information. I knew it was working, maybe on some level as a placebo, but usually have quite a short attention span when it comes to reading long textbook extracts. I was absorbed in my reading, wasn’t getting distracted, and was actively thinking on the subject and making connections to other study materials. The effects lasted maybe 2 hours, when I noticed my attention span dwindling.
Mucuna pruriens has something to offer to almost anyone,.
As a dream supplement, it is best suited for people who are able to have lucid dreams, but would like to increase the vividness and control they have over their dreams.
Alternatively, it may be beneficial for you if you don’t recall your dreams, or even if you feel your dreams are too boring and would like to experience more action in the night time.