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By lurkingforacure On 2010.05.05 22:26
I know we are on the fringe of those who experiment with alternative things, and many here are not into that nor are they at a stage where they can do so. But for those that are, I'm sharing our experience with fava beans which we are growing in our garden and just began harvesting this week. Google the fava bean and you'll quickly see that it has been eaten for thousands of years, mostly in the mediterranean, and that the entire plant, leaves, stems, pod, and bean, have dopamine in it. My understanding is that the pod has the most, the bean next, and the leaves and stems less. But all have some.

The fava bean has some issues: some folk cannot eat it (make sure you're not one of them, "favism" is fatal and you can get a blood test for this), and some claim you can't eat them if you also take azilect (which we do). Having said that, here's what we are seeing:

Tonight we steamed some fava beans whole, and ate them cut up, pod and all, with salt and butter. My husband ate maybe a cup or so this way, and here are the effects:

1. pain virtually gone (this is huge, as those who suffer with pain know all too well)
2. rigidity almost gone as well, neck can rotate side to side with barely noticeable cog-wheeling
3. feel "tingly"
4. feel very relaxed, good, almost drunk but not staggering or tipsy
5. vision good, double vision gone, tracking not a problem like it usually is
6. feeling "cuddly" (this is very rare, even before PD!)
7. tremors virtually gone

This is better than any time we have EVER taken sinemet, FYI. It hit quickly, too, no sixty to ninety minute delay...and he still feels this way several hours later.

Now, we ate these at the end of the day, after a day build-up of the usual meds, so the fava is piggy-backing on all that sinemet....but still. I'll add that we had some three nights ago with very similar effects, although then I sauteed the pods in olive oil (they were not nearly as good, some were a bit bitter, for those who are thinking of trying this).

I've also read conflicting reports that you CAN eat favas if you take azilect and some that say you shouldn't....but I tend to not worry about this so much because our neuro told us they also tell you not to eat aged cheese but you'd have to eat a whole wheel of cheese to have a reaction and no one is going to do that. So if you ate a bucketful of beans and pods, perhaps then I'd worry about a reaction, but not with the small amount we are eating.

We are going to have some more for breakfast and I'll report again. Just wanted to share what we are experiencing, and after we eat all the bean pods, we are going to eat the leaves and try to find some way to eat the stems as the whole plant has varying amounts of dopamine in it. If anyone has any recipes for fava leaves or stems, please let me know.

I think this is like mucuna, and as others on other forums have noted, the plant has who knows what all additional compounds, enzymes, flavanoids or whatever, that help the dopamine in it synergistically once in the body. But somehow, this is better than the mucuna powder we tried, at least so far in our limited experience.

I sure hope this helps others. The fava bean is very seasonal, so after our pods are gone, we will have to eat the dried beans you can get in the grocery store (although I have seen some references to canned favas). Next year I'm going to plant a ton and freeze them to last us throughout the year. I cannot believe how much better my husband is feeling tonight, it's incredible.

By mylove On 2010.05.05 23:20
Wow... thank you! Going to look this up and will pass it on. :)

By karolinakitty On 2010.05.06 08:17
Did some checking, i was all excited ... isee about the dopamine and amino acids. The only draw back for us is the high protein levels...39g per serving ....
Those who have issues with proteins absorbing the drugs before hitting the brain need to constantly watch those levels. Plus the high proteins cause extreme nausea, I think I might try some and see how it goes. I can maybe substitute a meat for the bean and make like a "pasta e fagioli" or "poor mans spaghetti" ... pasta and beans......

By mylove On 2010.05.06 09:08
I suppose this would be the wrong place to quote one of my favorite movie lines about "...fava beans and a nice Chianti." LOL (Bonus points to any of you who get that!)

By Emma On 2010.05.06 09:21
As in Hannibal Lechter "... liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti"?

Do I win a prize?!? :)

By lurkingforacure On 2010.05.06 12:56
We have to be really cautious about protein content too but it was no problem for us so far, the dopamine crossed right past my husband's blood brain barrier quickly, he could tell very easily when it hit his brain (sounds like a drug addict, I know, and I hate that).

The protein thing befuddled the doctors conducting a study on this some time ago, now granted the trial was open label and the few PDers involved kept a personal log, subject to all kinds of subjectivity. All eight (I think it was only 8) patients reported a significant improvement, and oddly, did not have more dyskenesias as one would expect with the addtional dopamine in the system. We expected that as well last night, but had none. Additionally, many of the patients in the study ate the fava beans with yogurt, a traditional way of eating them in other parts of the world, and for some reason the high protein content of the dairy did not compete with the dopamine getting into the brain, either, the patients experienced the significant improvement nonetheless. There just must be something about eating the whole plant that works better for the body.

Love the comments about favas, particularly hannibal, a compellingly creepy character, to say the least.

By LOHENGR1N On 2010.05.06 13:20
Interesting, not trying to sound like a wet blanket but I wonder about the increase of the dopamine in one's system combined with the carbi/L-dopa. Reading this I confess my first thought was to wonder if this immediate response was some euphoric response to the increased neuro-transmitters? I have no idea, in not a chemist or biologist, but then We certainly do get a crash course having Parkinson's Disease don't We. Does anyone know if there were or are long term studies done regarding the effects of long usage of these two combined? I would hate to set in place a build up leading to overdosing. Or finding out this improvement was perceived by a sate of dopamine caused mania. I'm just asking and trying to err on the side of caution here as if I try it I live alone and no one's here most of the time incase I get myself into trouble trying these things. Take care, best of luck and hang in there.

By caregivermary On 2010.05.06 14:46
I too do not want to disregard any benefit from this option but I did come across this(see below) and some time ago I read fava beans and anti-depressants to do mix.

Case of neuroleptic malignant-like syndrome precipitated by abrupt fava bean discontinuance.
Ladha SS, Walker R, Shill HA.

Barrow Neurological Institute, Department of Neurology, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, USA.

Neuroleptic malignant-like syndrome (NMLS) is well described in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The syndrome is characterized by fever, rigidity, autonomic instability, elevated creatine phosphokinase levels, and altered level of consciousness, which is usually precipitated by levodopa withdrawal. In recent years, patients have used fava beans to treat Parkinson's symptoms, because the beans contain appreciable amounts of levodopa and have been thought to be a safe adjunctive therapy. We describe a case of NMLS, which was precipitated by the abrupt cessation of fava bean ingestion. Copyright 2005 Movement Disorder Society.

PMID: 15719433 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Publication Types, MeSH Terms, SubstancesPublication Types: Case ReportsMeSH Terms:Diagnosis, DifferentialHumansLevodopa/adverse effects*Levodopa/analysisMaleMiddle AgedNeuroleptic Malignant Syndrome/diagnosis*Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome/etiology*Phytotherapy/methods*Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/complications*Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/etiology*Vicia faba*/chemistrySubstances:Levodopa
LinkOut - more resources

By lurkingforacure On 2010.05.06 19:07
I would expect that any sudden discontinuance of dopamine, from whatever source one was getting it from (meds or fava beans or mucuna beans, used in India extensively), would risk this condition. You certainly would want to tell your doc you are going to start eating fava beans, but don't expect them to have any clue what you are talking about, IMHO.

By lurkingforacure On 2010.05.07 09:30
Yesterday we replaced the first sinemet dose at 6am with a small serving of fava beans...had a much better day than normal. My husband only had the small serving in the morning. Everything was better, even at the end of the day, my husband said he felt smoother, more fluid, the horrible back pain he has was better, it was something. I know the placebo effect in PD is very strong, but still, I don't know that I care, if HE feels like he feels better, who cares if on a molecular level nothing is really different than before he began eating the bean? (and actually, the fava bean is in the pea family, not the bean family...)

So this morning, we went out at 6am to harvest more fava beans...with a flashlight, no less. We steamed 'em up, cut and buttered like before, and he had a scant cup-worth of this for breakfast. We'll see how this day goes, and I'll report back. I'm also looking for commercial sources, since we're in Texas and soon our heat will dry everything up. If he keeps feeling better, I'm going to need to be able to get them on a regular basis. I've read the dried beans which you can get everywhere aren't nearly as good for PD as the fresh.

By Emma On 2010.05.07 09:58
I've been intriqued by this topic and decided this morning to do a little research myself. I did find an online source for fresh, frozen, canned and dried favas. The website is and they even advertise "fava beans for Parkinson's". Other than that I don't know anything about the company but thought I would pass it on. So, just as I was getting my hopes up I started finding references to fava beans being considered a natural alternative to Viagra, and being linked to increased libido. Not good for those of us dealing with partners with sexual obsessions! Interesting information though.

By lurkingforacure On 2010.05.07 12:41
Awesome Emma, thanks for the link. I read about the viagra thing too but haven't seen any evidence of that. I will say that anything that makes my man feel better and not focused solely on how crappy he feels, such as back pain, foot cramps, neck pain, etc, seems to increase the libido, seems like everything does anyway! No offense to the guys here, it's just how things seem to me. (not limited to PD either, a counselor friend confided in me years ago that the overwhelming majority of marital counseling she does relates to sex: he wants sex, and she wants the laundry folded, the dishwasher emptied, the dog fed, school lunches made, you get the idea.)

Later this morning my husband says he is still better with this regime than when he merely took the sinemet, so I am hoping and praying this will be something we can incorporate into our PD management program (PDMP I guess I could call it) to help him. Thanks for sharing any and all info.

By karolinakitty On 2010.05.07 12:52
I tried my Homegrown Harvest, they are in GA, and they said they could special order them but did not carry them regularly. That is where i get my bulk bags of lentils, split peas and beans. They carry mostly organic stuff but do have "normal" dried products. has fava beans, 20oz bag ..$6.79 plus shipping.....

If you have any Mid-Eastern stores near you, try those. They are known as Foul Mudammas......

as was said intlgourmet has them along with Fava Juice .... claims it helps with digestion and constipation for PD patients.....

By LOHENGR1N On 2010.05.07 19:46
I found this online thought it was interesting. Also watchout if you're taking vitamin B6 as it interfers with absorption of Levadopa. In the combo of Carbi/L-dopa this isn't the case. Before carbidopa was added Patients had to limit or exclude B6 from their diets because it prohibited absorption of the levadopa.

Many of these sites have been around for years and years folks let's please err on the side of caution and discuss with the Doctors before trying, limiting or replacing our med's with this remedy. Take care, best of luck and hang in there.

Fava Beans, Levodopa, and Parkinson's Disease
by Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
Ms. Holden is a registered dietitian specializing in Parkinson's disease. She has published research, books, articles, and manuals on nutrition and PD, including "Eat well, stay well with PD." For more information you may call (USA) 877-565-2665, or 970-224-5066; or visit her website:

Beans and Parkinson's disease
In the past few years, I've been increasingly asked for information about fava beans as a source of levodopa. It's clear that many people are trying fava beans without fully understanding their properties. This article is designed to answer questions that have arisen about fava and Parkinson's disease (PD). I hope this may clear up some of the confusion about the bean, and encourage people to discuss its use with their doctors and dietitians.
This bean is a legume called "fava" (fah-vuh), faba, broad bean, and horse bean. Its botanical name is "Vicia faba." There are many species of faba; however, the "faba major"is the bean of concern here. It grows in a long pod, like a giant green bean, with large, flat seeds inside. It has been eaten for thousands of years throughout the world, especially in the Mediterranean region.
How are fava beans related to PD?
Fava beans contain levodopa, the same chemical in Sinemet, Madopar, Dopar, Larodopa, and other levodopa-containing medicines used to treat PD. In fact, the entire fava plant, including leaves, stems, pods, and immature beans, contains levodopa.
The amount of levodopa can vary greatly, depending on the species of fava, the area where it's grown, soil conditions, rainfall, and other factors. It appears that the young pod and the immature (green) beans inside the pod contain the greatest amount of levodopa, and the mature, or dried bean, the least. Three ounces (about 84 grams or cup) of fresh green fava beans, or three ounces of canned green fava beans, drained, may contain about 50-100 mg of levodopa. If using the young pod as well as the beans, the amount of levodopa may be greater than that in the fresh beans alone.
What effect do fava beans have on PD?
Some small studies have shown that the levodopa in fava beans can help control the symptoms of PD, just as medications containing levodopa do. In fact, a few people report that the effects from fava last longer than the effects from medications. Some researchers believe fava beans may contain other substances besides levodopa that could be helpful.
However, although some people report good effects, others find no antiparkinson effect from fava beans at all; and still others report adverse effects, such as nausea and dyskinesia. Much more research needs to be done to determine how effective fava beans may be.
Are there any problems associated with eating fava beans?
Yes, there a number of concerns to be aware of:
Variable levodopa amounts. Because fava plants have varying amounts of levodopa, it's possible to get either too much or too little levodopa. Too little levodopa will not relieve PD symptoms; and too much levodopa can cause overmedication effects, such as dyskinesia - particularly if other PD medications are being used at the same time. Also, the levodopa can cause nausea in some people.
Allergies. Raw fava beans can produce an allergic reaction in some people, including discomfort, and occasionally, coma. Cooking may prevent allergic reactions.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) use. Another consideration is the use of fava for people who take MAOIs. These include: isocarboxazid (Marplan); phenelzine (Nardil); tranylcypromine (Parnate); and selegiline (deprenyl, Carbex, Eldepryl).
MAOIs taken in combination with pressor agents (foods high in dopamine, tyramine and phenylethylamine), can bring about a dangerous, and sometimes fatal, increase in blood pressure. Levodopa in medications or in fava can convert to dopamine in the bloodstream. It should be noted that selegiline is a different type of MAOI (MAOI-type B), and in the amount normally used by people with PD (10 mg daily), it is not thought to pose a risk when used with dopamine. However, people using any MAOI should discuss foods containing pressor agents with their physicians and dietitians.
Favism (G6PD deficiency). Favism is an inherited disease in which a person lacks an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). When these people eat fava beans, they develop a condition called hemolytic anemia. This anemia causes red blood cells to break apart and block blood vessels. When such blockage occurs in the kidneys, it can result in kidney failure and even death. Although favism is usually detected in childhood, adults can be affected as well.
G6PD deficiency is rare, occurring mostly among people of Mediterranean, African, and Southeast Asian descent, but others can be affected as well. Your physician can perform a blood test for G6PD to determine whether you are at risk. If you find you have inherited G6PD deficiency, your dietitian can help you locate other foods that may be of concern, and can help you plan safe and healthful menus. For more information on favism, see Resources at the end of this article.
Should you eat fava beans if you have Parkinson's disease?
Many people with PD can benefit from use of fava beans. If you'd like to try them, discuss it with your physician first. Besides MAOI use and risk for favism, your doctor may want to adjust the amount and/or timing of your PD medications.
If your doctor agrees that you should try using fava beans, he or she will probably ask you to start out with a very small amount at first, to see what effect, if any, fava has for you. An ounce (about 28 grams, or two tablespoons of beans) a day is probably right for most people to begin with. After a week you should notice whether there is any effect, and if not, your doctor may suggest that you increase the amount. If the fava beans reduce PD symptoms, your doctor may want to adjust your other PD medications.
How often should I eat fava beans?
There is too little information available to give an exact answer; also, each person with PD is different, and has different medication needs. Some people report a half cup (4 ounces, 112 grams) of fava a day, or even every other day, gives good results. Begin with a small amount, increasing gradually under your doctor's supervision, until you find the combination of fava and/or PD medications that's right for you.
Even if fava beans help, you shouldn't eat too much. If you fill up on fava, you'll be too full for other foods, and will miss out on the benefits they offer. A dietitian can help you plan menus that include fava beans and will best meet your personal needs.
Where can I get fava beans?
Fresh pods and/or green fava beans are available in season at specialty produce markets and some specialty foods shops. They may also be found at Middle Eastern markets, some supermarkets, and farmers' markets. Grocery stores may be willing to special order the fresh pods or beans in season, frozen pods/beans, or canned green fava beans, such as produced by Krinos or Cortas. Be sure to specify "green fava beans," not dried or mature beans. For more information, see Resources.
Nutrient information for fava beans
Besides levodopa, fava beans are rich in valuable nutrients. Fava pods with beans are a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium, and many vitamins. The beans alone are also good - 3 ounces (98 grams) of cooked fresh beans contain 56 calories, 20 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, and substantial amounts of iron, magnesium, and vitamin C.
How do I prepare fava beans?
The pods, including beans, are best eaten when very young, before a "string" forms along the side. They can be steamed or boiled until tender. Add some olive oil or butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve as a vegetable side dish, like snow peas.
To use the fresh green fava beans, shell the beans from the pods, like green peas. Then boil or steam them till tender - usually two to 10 minutes, depending on size and age. Add butter, salt and pepper, or your own favorite seasoning, and serve as a side dish. You can also add the cooked beans to salads. If the beans seem too chewy, cook for 8-10 minutes, then cool and slip off the outer skins; cook a few more minutes if needed. Some people like to eat the skins, others find them too tough.
In conclusion, fava beans are an excellent food, as well as a possible way to help fight the effects of PD. Discuss use of fava with your doctor and registered dietitian. Here's to your good health!

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