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Cowhage

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What other names is Cowhage known by?

Atmagupta, Couhage, Cowitch, Cow-Itch Plant, Dolichos Pruriens, Feijao Macaco, HP 200, HP-200, Kapi Kacchu, Kapikachchhu, Kapikachhu, Kapikachu, Kaunch, Kawach, Kawanch, Kevanch, Kiwach, Macuna, Mucuna hirsuta, Mucuna pruriens, Mucuna Prurient, Mucuna Prurita, Nescafé, Ojo de Buey, Ojo de Venado, Pica-Pica, Pois à Gratter, Pois Mascate, Pois Velu, Stizolobium pruriens, Velvet Bean.

What is Cowhage?

Cowhage is a bean-like plant. It grows wild in the tropics, including India and the Bahamas, and its range may extend to southern Florida. The bean, seed, and hair of the bean pod are used to make medicine.

Cowhage has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Today, cowhage is still used for treating Parkinson's disease, as well as for treating anxiety, arthritis, parasitic infections, and a condition called hyperprolactinemia. In hyperprolactinemia, the blood levels of a hormone called prolactin are too high. Cowhage is also used to relieve pain and fever, to induce vomiting, and to treat snakebite.

Some people apply cowhage directly to the skin for joint and muscle pain, to stimulate surface blood flow in conditions that involve paralysis, and to treat scorpion stings.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • High levels of a hormone called prolactin (hyperprolactinemia). There is some evidence that cowhage might be useful for treating hyperprolactinemia in men caused by the medication chlorpromazine. But cowhage does not appear to be effective for hyperprolactinemia of unknown cause in women.
  • Parkinson's disease. Developing research suggests that some cowhage preparations might help improve symptoms of Parkinson's disease when used in combination with prescription drugs such as amantadine, selegiline, and anticholinergic agents. Cowhage contains levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical used to treat Parkinson's disease.
  • Worm infestations.
  • Bone and joint conditions.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Stimulating surface blood flow in conditions that involve paralysis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of cowhage for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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