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Seed and coat of Mucuna pruriens, known as velvet beans or cowitch has scientific classification as shown below;


















M. pruriens

Velvet bans (Mucuna pruriens) is an excellent cover crop and soil improver[1,2]. In addition, it commonly produces 200 to 600kg of seeds per hectare which are very rich in protein. However, the regular use of velvet beans ,for soil fertility enhancement is hampered by the lack of appropriate processing techniques of the seeds[3].

Velvet beans has a long history of traditional use in Brazil and India as an aphrodisiac. Clinical studies in India have validated that the plant does indeed have aphrodisiac activities[4]. Velvet beans is an annual climbing vine that grows 3-18m in height. It is indigenous to tropical regions, especially African, Indian and the West Indies. Its flowers are white to dark purple and hang in long clusters. The plant also produces clusters of pods which contain seeds known as Mucuna beans. The seed pods are covered with reddish orange hairs that are readily dislodged and can cause intense irritation to the skin. The species name “pruriens” (from the latin,’ itching sensation”) refers to the result of itching when someone comes in contact with seed pod hairs.[5]

Velvet beans has been gaining in popularity over the last few years in the natural product market especially the sports nutrition industries. With its documented ability to increase testosterone and stimulate growth hormone (thereby increasing muscles mass). Several companies have launched new products using mucuna beans including several which are standardized to the L-poda content. It is also showing up as an ingredient in various weight loss, libido, brain/memory, anti-aging and body builder formulars[6].

Baphia nitida

Baphina Nutida belongs to the family of Leguminosae-papilonaceae, Common name – camwood.

          The seed is very nutritious for man consumption, a part from its nutritive contents, the roots of Baphina nitida yields a red dye that was  used locally untill recently, to dye raffia and cotton textiles.

          The name camwood is derived from Serra Leone Tamne. It was exported on a large scale to Europe from the 17th century and to North America from the 18th century as one of the main “red wood” dyes for wood cotton and silk. Basically, the total dry matter content of leaves in Nigeria has nutrients such as crude protein, ether extract ash, crude fibre, lignin cellulose.

More recently, the tree is used as an interesting timber and often serve as an ornamental shade tree or as fense or hedge[7].


          In carrying out this research, the researcher have in mind the following objectives;

To identify the quantity of nutrients contained in (i) Seed and coat of velvet seed (Mucuna pruriens) and (ii) seed and coat of camwood (Baphia nitida).


1.2.1  Mucuna pruriens

Mucuna pruriens bears white lavenders and purple flowers. The seed pods are covered with hairs that cause severe itch when it comes in contact with the skin[5].

          The seeds of velvet beans are high in protein, carbohydrates, lipids, fibre and minerals. They also are rich in novel alkaloids, saponins and steroids. The seeds of all Mucuna species contain a high concentration of L-poda concentration of sarotonin also have been found in the pod, leaf and fruit [8].

          Mucuna pruriens seed can be eaten by human when boiled and soaked for several times with water. Both the green pods and matured beans were boiled and eaten. The soaking of the seed should be within 30 to 48 minutes and the water must be changed severally, to leach out the laevodopa present, since otherwise, the plant can be toxic to human.

          Mucuna pruriens is a widespread folder plant in the tropics, to that end it is fed to animal as silage, dried hay or dried seeds. Mucuna pririens silage contain 11-23% crude fibre, 20-35% crude protein.

          Mucuna pruriens bears white lavender or purple flowers. Its seed pods are about 10cm long[9] and are covered in loose orange hairs that cause a severe itch when it comes in contact with the skin. The chemical components responsible for the itch are a protein, Mucunian[9]. The seeds are shiny black or brown drift seeds. It is found in tropical Africa, India and the Caribbean[9].

1.2.2  Baphia nitida

          Camwood occur wild from Senegal to Gabon. It is often cultivated near villages formerly as a dye wood especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Now more often as an ornamental shade tree or as fence or hedge.

          In Nigeria, the seeds are eaten by Igbo people and the twigs are used by Igbo people as chewing sticks[10]. Up to about 1950’s, there was considerable export of camwood particularly from Sierra Leone and Liberia to Europe and the United States, both as dye for woods forming and cabinet making[10]. The dye is found in the heartwood which often is of small size. It is present in varying concentrations up to 23%. The dye is soluble in alkali and alcohols much less so in water[11]. The heart wood is pale brown when fresh turning rapidly to dark red or orange upon exposure. This wood is extremely hard, heavy and durable, close-grained and of fine texture.

          Baphia nitida often grow as an under storey tree in wetter  parts of coastal regions, in rain forest, and in abandoned farm land[12]. Camwood is very easy to cultivate and can be propagated by seed and cuttings. For best results, cutting should be often taken from rather young plants.  

In Nigeria, the nutrient content of leaves per 100 of dry matter was approximately crude protein 19g, ether extracts 2.5g, ash 4.3g, crude fibre 23g, N-free extract 51g, acid-detergent fibre 57g, lignin 13g, cellulose 29g, Ca 0.4g, mg 0.2g, K 1g,P 0.2g, Fe 23g, Mg, Cu 20mg and Zn 5mg. Camwood seed can serve as food for man and livestock [13,14].

          The principal dye substance in camwood are isoflavonoid- flavonoid dimmers, santalin A and B and santarubin A, B, C. Also baphic acid and baphin, deoxy santarubin, homopterocarptin, pterocarpin also contribute in the colouring property[11]


          Velvet bean was introduced in planes de Hicaque near Tela. A Handuran brother-in-law of theirs is credited with introducing the seed into Sanfrancisco de Saco. It grooved wild there, unnotified for a number of years. A few farmers observed the plant’s ability to control weeds and improve maize yield in fields were it dominates.

          In the 1920s, Nigeria grew Mucuna spp as an improved fallow and as a relay crop, with a view to intensify small-scale shifting agriculture system. Velvet bean seed was sold by seed companies in the state under the name ‘banana field bean’ and was later distributed as velvet bean through out the tropics by the USDA. The plant was probably introduced as a forage crop in Mesoametrica in 1920s. some species are used in Malawi as manure for maize and tobacco. In India, it is used as cover crops punjab in particular.

1.3.1  Baphia nitida

Baphia nitida occurs wild from Senegal to Garbon. Cultivated in Sierra Leone and Liberia as dye wood. The tree occur in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Cote de Ivoire, Cameroon. In Nigeria, TIV people colour the inside of the goured prepared as a beehive with the red dye to attract a swam to settle there and Yoruba honey-hunters rub their body with the dye paste to prevent bee stings. In Sierra Leonne, a bark decoction is drunk to cure cardial pain and bark and leaves are prepared as an enema to treat constipation. In Nigeria and Ghana, the pounded dried root, mixed with water and oil is applied to a ringworm-like fungus attacking the feet. In Cote ‘d’Ivoire, a leaf extract of camwood is drunk against asthma. The export was mainly in the shape of logs cut into short lengths rather than in the form of powder or extract, allegedly to facilitate quality control.


          The plant is an animal climbing shrub with long vines that can reach over 15m in length. When the plant is young, it is almost completely covered with fuzzy hairs, but when older, it is almost completely free of hairs. The leaves are tripinnate, ovate, reverse ovate, rhombus shaped or widely ovate. The sides of the leaves are often heavily grooved and the tips are pointy. In young Mucuna pruriens plant, both sides of the leaves have hairs. The stem of the leaves are two to three millimeter long. Additional adjacent leaves are present and are about 5mm long.

          The flower heads take the form of asexual arranged pericle. They are 15 to 32 cm long and have two to three or many flowers. The accompanying leaves are about 12.5mm long, the flower stand axes are from 2.5 to 5mm. The bell is 7.5 to 9mm long and silky. The sepals are longer or of the same length as the shuttles. The crown is purplish or white. The flag is 1.5mm long. The wings are 2.5 to 3.8cm long. In the fruit ripening state, 4 to 13cm long, 1 to 2cm wide, unwingled leguminous fruits develops. There is a ridge along the length of the fruit. The husk is very hairy and carries up to seven seeds. The seeds are flattened uniform eclipsed, 1-1.9cm long, 0.8-1.3cm wide and 4-6.5cm thick. The Hillium, the base of the funiculus (connection between placenta and plant seeds) is surrounded by a significant arillus (fleshy seeds shell).

          Mucuna pruriens bears white or purple flowers, its seeds pods are about 10cm long [9] and are covered in long orange hairs that cause a severe itch, if they come in contact with the skin.

1.4.1 CAMWOOD (Baphia nitida)

Baphia nitida has many stemed erect shrub or small tree up to 9m tall with glabrous to densely pubescent. The leaves are alternate, simple and entire, petiole 1-4cm long, prominently thickened at the base and top: blade ovate, elliptically obovate or lanceolate, 5-21cm X 3-9cm, base rounded to cuneate apex acuminate. Slightly leathery, almost glabulous, pinnately veined. Flower in auxiliary fascicles 1-5 flowered, bisexual, papilionacous. Pedical slender, 3-17mm long, calyx spathaceous 8 – 10mm long, glabrous but with a tuft of brown hairs at apex; corolla with standard suborbicular, 1-2cm in diameter, white with a yellow centre, wings and keel white a pocket near the base; stamens 10, filament unequal, tree up to 7mm long; overy superior, sessile, glabulous, sometimes with a row of silvery hairs along the dorsal margin, 1-celled, style curved filifarm, stigma small. Fruit a compressed pod 8-16.5cm X 1-1.5cm. pointed at both ends, 1-4 seeded. Seeds almost circular in outline, 1-1.5cm in diameter, brown.


          Mucuna prureins has many medicinal application used to increase libido in both men and women due to its dopamine inducing properties. Dopamine has a profound influence on sexual function. Mucuna prureins seed have also been found to have antidepressant properties when consummed. The hair lining the seed pods contain 5-hydroxytryptomine (serotonin) used to prepare itching powder[5].  Levadopa cures pakinson disease[15], Mucuna pruriens has been recognized to increase testosterone level, leading to deposition of protein in the muscle and increase muscle mass and strength[16]. The extract is also known to enhance mental alertness and improve coordination [17].

          According to research foundation of chennai traditional health care, uses of Mucuna pruriens in South India are as follows;

     I.        Abdominal discomfort

Grind the root of Mucuna pruriens to make a paste. Take this paste orally once a day for two days.

   II.        Cholera

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