Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus) – Qualities, Side Effects, Research

By Dr Renita D’Souza

Botanical Name – Lathyrus sativus
Family – Leguminosae

Grasspea is highly nutritious legume crop. It is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Traditionally it is used to treat Scabies, eczema and allergy. It is the potential source of protein. Seed oil is considered as powerful cathartic.

Names in Different Languages

Sanskrit Name – Triputa
English Name – Grass pea, blue sweet pea, chickling pea, chickling vetch, Indian pea, white pea, white vetch, Dogtooth pea
Kannada name – kesari bele, kesari togari
Hindi Name – Khesari dal, Khisari, Kasoor, Matar bhed
Bengali Name – Khesari, Kassur
Marathi Name – Laag, Lak
Punjabi Name – Kisari, Chural, Karas
Gujarati Name – Lang, Lung
Arabic Name – Ivul bakar, Khalaj
Pharsi Name – Masang
Tamil Name – kecari paruppu
Telugu Name – lamka
Malayalam Name – Kesarim

Qualities

Medicinal Qualities of Indian pea
Taste – sweet, bitter, astringent
Potency (virya) – cold
Ruksha – dry in nature
Ruchya – improves taste
Grahaka – absorbent
Vatati kopana – increases vata
Intake causes khanja – monoplegia and Pangu – paraplegia

Effect on Tridoshas
Balances kapha and pitta dosha

Part Used

Seeds, Seed oil, Leaves

Sanskrit Verse

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Morphology, Distribution

Morphology
Lathyrus sativus is a much-branched plant. Stems are slender, 25-60 cm long, quadrangular with winged margins. Leaves pinnate, opposite. Consists 1 – 4 leaflets, linear-lanceolate. Flowers are bright blue, reddish-purple, red, pink or white in color. Pods are oblong, flat, 2.5-4.5 cm long, contains up to 7 seeds. Seeds are wedge-shaped, white, pale green, grey or brown in color. 

Distribution
Grass peas are cultivated in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and many parts of Africa.

Side Effects

Lathyrism – Excessive and prolonged consumption of Grass pea leads to neuron disorder, neurolathyrism. It is caused by degeneration of pyramidal tracts in the spinal cord. It is characterized by lack of strength in or inability to move the lower limbs. (related research)

Phytochemical

Grass pea contains alkaloids, carbohydrates, reducing sugar, flavonoids, terpenes, phenols, proteins and amino acids and tannins

Research

CNS depressant, Analgesic, Antipyretic activity – A study conducted to evaluate phytochemical and pharmacological activities of methanolic plant extract of Lathyrus sativus L. seeds have concluded that the plant extract possess significant CNS depressant, analgesic and antipyretic activity.

Sanskrit Synonyms

Triputa, Khandika, Langa

Classical Categorization

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Dhanya varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Dhanya varga
Raja Nighantu – Shalyadi varga

Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae
Order – Fabales
Family – Fabaceae
Subfamily – Faboideae
Tribe – Vicieae
Genus – Lathyrus
Species – L. sativus
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