Clitoria ternatea or Butterfly pea of Ayurveda is a very common perennial vine that is native to tropical and equatorial regions but is now found even in other parts of the world.
This creeper is herbaceous and requires very little care because of which it is one of the plants suitable for re-vegetation. It has ornamental value because of its oblong green leaves that offer dense green cover that has a few flowers interspersed, making these flowers look striking.
The Clitoria ternatea plant has attractive deep blue colored flowers with unequal sized petals assembled in a shape that are similar to a woman’s clitoris. The pale-yellow color radiating upwards from the base of the flower further accentuates the resemblance.
That is the reason its scientific name is Clitoria ternatea. Some of the plants, however, may have white colored plants. External petal is larger, and it also has veins that branch towards the external tip of the flower.
The stem of this plant is like any other creeper. Leaves are pinnately compounded, i.e., there is a petiole that extends in rachis. This rachis ends in leaf and has leaves on either side.
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Basically, this plant is a relative of the common pea plant. Therefore, it is a leguminous plant enjoying a symbiotic relationship with a bacterium. The fruit is in the form of pod, and they are edible but only when the seeds are unripe. The pods are long and resemble those of common peas though these pods are a bit compressed.
Since no part of this plant is poisonous, all parts are used either in cooking or in medicines. It is used in Malaysian, Thai, and Burmese cooking. Food colour is also extracted from it.
Ayurveda is not the only medicine branch that has identified the medicinal properties of butterfly pea plant. Chinese have also used this plant in medical preparations for curing ailments afflicting reproductive organs. The plant has also been used in Unani medicines.
Phytochemicals obtained from Clitoria ternatea plant include cliotides, which are a type of peptides, and steroids. The plant is a rich source of colour pigments because of anthocyanins.
The plant also has secondary metabolites, i.e., flavanols, which have the ability to prevent bacteria getting attached to the urinary tract. This plant is also a source of triterpenoids, which are hydrocarbon compounds that show some anti-cancer capabilities.
Clitoria ternatea has many names since it is now grown across the world. Its Asian origins are responsible for it being identified as Asian pigeon wings. Other names people across the world use for it are butterfly pea, cordofan pea, blue pea, and blue bell vine.
In India, the plant has different names in different regional languages. In Sanskrit, it is known as Yonipushpa, Kokilaa, Vishnukranta, or Girikarnika. Gujarati people call it Garnee. In Marathi, it is known as Gokarni.
Malayalam name for this flower is Shankapushpam. In Telugu, it is called Dintena, and in Tamil it is Kakkanam. The name Aparajita is used for this plant in Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, and Oriya. In Kannada, Aparajita is known as Girikarniballi. In Unaani medications, this plant is referred to as Mezereon.
Botanical Name or Family of Clitoria ternatea
Botanical name of Aparajita is Clitoria ternatea Linn. It belongs to order Fabales, and family Fabaceae.
Geological area where butterfly pea plant grows
Butterfly pea plant is native to countries like India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Today, it is grown in all parts of the world especially Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Arabia, Persia, etc. Australians use it for reviving their lands, whereas Americans grow it for horticultural purposes.
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Clitoria ternatea medicinal Uses
Here is a list of how it is used in Ayurveda for treating different systems in the body.
Nervous system including brain
Extracts from this plant have a tranquilizing effect. Therefore, this plant has been used in Ayurveda for treating brain-related health problems including schizophrenia, mania, learning problems, memory problems, problems with cognitive development, etc.
It has also been used to treat syncope, dizziness, and balancing problems. The root juice is administered with some honey for such purposes. It has also been used to treat migraines and chronic headaches. For this, few drops of extract from the root of this plant are put in the patient’s nostrils. This plant’s extracts are also good for treating any stiffness in neck muscles.
Extracts from this plant are used in Ayurveda to prevent vomiting (antiemetic). Preparations from this plant are also used to prevent dysentery (anti-dysenteric). One of the extracts also serves as a mild laxative. Some of the Ayurvedic medicines for treating gastritis, diarrhea and anus bleeding also contain extracts from Aparajita.
In addition, extracts have been used to purge bile down, making it effective cholagogue. Tonsils can be treated with this plant by combining the extract with guava leaves and gargling with it. Abdominal pain can be treated with this plant, more specifically its seeds. The seed is powdered and administered twice each day for reducing such pain.
Ayurveda has used decoctions (clitoria ternatea tea) from this plant for gargling when a patient suffers from any cold, or throat and voice problems. At times, the patient is asked to smoke different parts of this plant for treating respiratory problems.
The plant has expectorant qualities. Therefore, it is effective in removing sputum in the case of coughs & cold, and asthma. For this, it is administered along with black pepper and extracts from basil leaves. These three are cooked and filtered. The patient is asked to drink such processed extract for a couple of days.
The plant offers haemostatic properties, i.e., it can be used to stop bleeding. So, it can be used to stop anus bleeding or any other form of bleeding. It is also good agent for blood purification or detoxification. Therefore, it can be used against acne, boils, etc. The plant was formerly used even to treat smallpox.
Extracts or decoctions from this plant are used in Ayurveda to treat dysuria, i.e., when the patient experiences pain while urinating.
This plant is used in Ayurveda to treat medical conditions such as hydrocele, which is building up of water around testicles. There are properties in this plant for treating infertility as well as impotence. Prolapsed uterus can also be treated with some processed extracts from this plant.
There are many other uses of this plant such as improving vision, soothing skin, as well as eyes. It can be effective anti –inflammatory agent, and medicinal preparations from it can be used as antipyretic, i.e., to bring down fever. The list of benefits mentioned above and exploited by Ayurveda is not exhaustive.
How to make butterfly pea flower tea
If you have fresh butterfly pea flowers, then put them all in a plate and cover with a cloth. Let these flowers dry under the sun till they turn crisp.
- Mix dried butterfly pea flowers in 1 cup of water and boil for some time.
- Steep until the color of the water turns blue.
- Strain the mixture and add some sugar or honey for taste.
- You can also add pinch of lemon to the tea to change the color and taste.
Butterfly pea side effects
Excessive drinking is not suggested as some of its dynamic ingredients could cause harmful impacts over the long haul. Pregnant ladies and breastfeeding moms should maintain a strategic distance from its utilization.
Clitoria ternatea medicinal uses are unlimited and it is possible to find Ayurvedic solutions to problems using Clitoria ternatea plant. But it is always advisable to approach a qualified Ayurvedic physician as dosages are determined considering many other factors, even though symptoms may seem to be alike.