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Simple and low-cost mucuna pruriens preparation for Parkinson’s disease patients in low-income countries

      Background: In low-income areas, about 80% of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients cannot afford medications, such as pharmaceutical levodopa/DDCI preparations. Mucuna pruriens (MP) seeds have high levodopa content and may offer an alternative.
      Objectives: To develop a safe, easy, low-cost method for MP seed preparation. To quantify the dose of MP required to treat PD patients.
      Material and methods: The seeds were toasted in a pan at low heat, without adding fat or seasoning, for 15 min. As soon as the husks burst open they were removed, and the seeds were ground and passed through a sieve, in order to obtain a powder.
      We collected 29 different kinds of MP seeds from Africa and Latin America and measured the levodopa content of their dried seeds, both raw and after roasting.
      One patient with advanced PD was administered levodopa/carbidopa 100 + 25 mg and the corresponding dose of MP roasted powder (7 g dispersed in water), containing about 400 mg of DDCI-free levodopa. Plasma levodopa levels were measured after both administrations.
      Results: The mean levodopa content of the dried MP seeds collected worldwide was 5.1%.
      Roasting does not reduce the content in levodopa (still 5%).
      In the treated patient, MP roasted powder provided similar clinical benefit and no significant side effects. AUCs were 55.3 and 95.5 (μg/ ml)*min, respectively.
      Conclusions: MP is safe, effective, easy to prepare and very cheap (total annual cost per patient: 10-15 US $). MP may be a sustainable alternative treatment for PD patients in low-income countries.