L-DOPA

Background

L-DOPA, also known as Levodopa, L-3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, is an amino acid and a direct precursor to dopamine and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is mainly taken up by the dopaminergic neurons that convert L-DOPA to dopamine and increases their dopamine levels in the body. L-DOPA or Levodopa remains the gold-standard therapeutic agent in Parkinson’s disease and the most effective treatment for the majority of the motor symptoms of PD. Levodopa can act as a pro-oxidant and antioxidant molecule depending on circumstance. Its benefits include good control of motor symptoms and a consequent improvement in quality of life and life expectancy. It is neuroprotective because the drug acts as a “minimal stressor” that enhances the production of protective molecules.[1]

Benefits

L-DOPA or Levodopa is considered as the most powerful supplement for Parkinson’s disease. L-DOPA helps increase dopamine levels in the brain, which provides relief of Parkinson’s symptoms. However, the benefits of L-DOPA are many and go beyond Parkinson’s disease. It helps good control of motor symptoms and a consequent improvement in quality of life and life expectancy. People also take L-DOPA as it helps improve sexual function, mental alertness, motivation, and sleep. L-DOPA also helps relieve pain and helps with weight loss, though mixed effects were reported in depression, anxiety, and oxidative stress. Besides, L-DOPA can be used as a “smart drug,” given its positive effects on cognitive function in healthy individuals. In addition to common medications, L-DOPA can be got from multiple natural sources and Mucuna pruriens is such a plant.
The common health benefits of L-DOPA include:

  • Helps people with Parkinson’s disease [2]
  • Improves cognitive function [3][4]
  • Increases testosterone levels and libido [5]
  • Promotes erectile function [6]
  • May improve alertness [7]
  • Improves motivation [8]
  • Improves weight loss [9]
  • May improve sleep [10]
  • Relieves pain [11]
  • Improves visual acuity and good for eye health [12]
  • Helps with schizophrenia [13]
  • Increases the immune response and inflammation [14]
  • Enhances longevity [15]
  • Increases learning and memory [16]
  • May have influence on growth hormone levels [17]

L-DOPA is also called Mucuna Pruriens because it is found in high amounts in Mucuna Pruriens. People use this supplement for improving brain health. It is an antioxidant and heavy metal chelator. It helps improve memory and cognition, lower symptoms of depression as well as it boosts libido.

How it works

L-DOPA increases memory. It is metabolized into dopamine in your body by an enzyme called aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) which increases dopamine levels in your brain. Actually, L-DOPA is a direct precursor of dopamine. Dopamine is made from this compound. It becomes converted to dopamine by the enzyme aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC or AAAD). This reaction requires Pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (the active form of vitamin B6) in the form of pyridoxine. However, it is quite important that, it is different from dopamine, L-DOPA can cross the blood-brain barrier. This means that taking L-DOPA helps increase dopamine in your brain, and it is key in the fight against brain diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.
L-DOPA also has a robust effect on the levels of testosterone. In a study, it might lessen in testosterone levels where about 32 Parkinson’s disease patients, and also to enhance the levels of the hormone. This effect may be due to the dopaminergic inhibition of prolactin, which inhibits decline in the levels of luteinizing hormone and testosterone.

Considerations

Though this drug called L-DOPA is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are some side effects that have been reported, such as agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, dizziness, confusion, nausea, etc. Again long-term treatment with L-DOPA may frequently cause abnormal muscle movements in Parkinson’s disease patients. Moreover, depletion of dopaminergic neurons may cause dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease and with age. Therefore, you are advised to consult your physician or healthcare provider before starting any medication supplement.

Recommendations

There is no specific standard dosage range for L-DOPA supplement. Also individual doses will be different for each patient, and 3 to 4 months of treatment may be needed to establish a stable regimen. The oral dosage of L-DOPA in Parkinson’s disease is usually 250 mg 2 to 4 times a day in the case of adults and teenagers. This range may be increased up to 6000 mg (6 g) a day.
When you want to stabilize the levels of dopamine, you can take L-DOPA with drugs that inhibit dopamine breakdown, such as monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) inhibitors and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors.[18[19]
You are recommended to consult your physician or healthcare provider to determine a specific dose for L-DOPA supplementation for you.

Sources