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Clitoria Ternatea (Butterfly Pea) Plant With The Most Benefits

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Sharing issues about health that he or close family members and friends had experienced.

Did you know Clitoria ternatea flowers are not as potent as other parts of the plant and different colored butterfly pea flowers have different health benefits?

Despite what you have heard, the flower is not as potent as other parts of the butterfly pea plant. Read on to learn more.

Despite what you have heard, the flower is not as potent as other parts of the butterfly pea plant. Read on to learn more.

What is Clitoria Ternatea (Butterfly Pea)?

Clitoria ternatea, commonly known as butterfly pea, blue pea, blue ternate, blue ternatea, Asian pigeonwings, and Darwin pea is an amazing plant with several benefits and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The local Asian name is Bunga Telang for Malay & Indonesian, 蝴蝶豆花 Hú Dié Dòu Huā for Chinese, Pukingan for Tagalog (Philippines), Dok Anchan for Thai, Đậu biếc for Vietnamese, and Shankhpushpi or Aparajita for Hindi, India.

In view of its popularity for health benefits, the butterfly pea plant is now widely planted in most parts of the world with USDA hardiness zones from 9 – 10.

Butterfly Pea Plant

The plant grows easily in the wild, especially in open ground, and has slender climbing legumes with striking blue flowers that resemble female genitals. Hence, its botanical name, Clitoria Ternatea.

The plant also bears white, mauve, and red-colored flowers, which have different medicinal values from the blue butterfly pea flower. However, the two major flower colors in the species are white and blue.

My Butterfly Pea Plant

This is one of the herbal trailing vines that I have in my garden and I harvested the flowers daily for my blue tea brews. I occasionally used the leaves in my blue tea brew but I rarely use the roots and seeds even though they are edible and more potent.

Uses of Butterfly Pea

Almost all parts of the butterfly pea plant; the leaves, the flowers, the tender shoots, and even their bean pods are edible and they have their respective therapeutic benefits. In Southeast Asia and South Asia, they are used in Ayurvedic and other traditional medicines.

Butterfly pea is also used in agricultural and cosmetic applications. In agriculture, it is used as fodder, nitrogen-fixing crop, and as an eco-friendly insecticide. The flower is used as colorants in food and cosmetics.

The Flower is Not the Most Potent

Also, despite what you have heard, the flower is not as potent as other parts of the butterfly pea plant and has lesser health benefits. This was reported in the study by Pulok K. Mukherjee et al.[7] .

Roots vs. Stems vs. Leaves vs. Seeds vs. Flowers of Blue Pea Plant

So, in this article, we will look at the health properties and benefits for every part of the plant. Since the blue and white color variants are the two major flower colors, we will also look into the differences in therapeutic properties of the blue and white colored butterfly pea flowers to determine which colored variety is better.

Table of Content

The subjects we will cover are as follow:

  • Butterfly Pea Flower Benefits – Blue vs. White Butterfly Pea Flower
  • Pharmacological Importance – Which Part of the Plant is More Potent?
  • Butterfly Pea Benefits Benefits for Each Part of the Plant: Flower, Leaf, Stem, Seed, and Root
  • Blue Butterfly Pea Powder – How to Use, Benefits, Side-Effect, Where to Buy
  • Can You Smoke Butterfly Pea Flowers? – Benefits, What Happen When You Smoke Pea Flower
  • Benefits of Drinking Butterfly Pea Flower Tea – How to Make Blue Tea, Downside of Blue Tea
  • Other Uses for Butterfly Pea (Clitoria Ternatea) Plant
  • Wrapping Up
  • References

Seeing that the flower is the most popular part of the plant and is widely searched online, we will start on the nutritional properties and benefits of the flowers, and move on to the rest of the plants.

Butterfly Pea Flower Benefits

Despite what you have heard or read on several blog sites, the health benefits of butterfly pea flower have different potency levels for the blue and white-colored flowers.

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower vs. White Butterfly Pea Flower

From the same study by Pulok K. Mukherjee et al., the white-flowered butterfly peas are therapeutically more active and are the preferred variety for medicinal purposes. This is partly due to the presence of high flavonoids, phenolic acids (antioxidants properties), sugar, and starch content in the white variety. This conclusion was also supported in the study by S. Khatoon et al.[3].

The comparative study showed the following butterfly pea flower nutrition facts:

  • Ash Value: The white variety has a higher ash value i.e. it has higher quality and purity compared to the blue butterfly pea flower.
  • Acid Insoluble Ash: This is lower in the white variety. Hence, it is easier to absorb and digest the nutritional content in the white variety.
  • Silicates and Silica Content: These are higher in the blue variety. Silica is essential for strength and flexibility to the cartilage, tendons, etc. It is also required for the formation of collagen.
  • Carbonates and Phosphates: Both carbonates and phosphates are higher in the white flower. These phytochemicals help to strengthen bones and teeth, produce energy, and build cell membranes.
  • Polar Compounds: Higher concentration of polar compounds (sugar, flavonoids, enzymes) are in the white-blue pea flower.
  • Alkaloid: Gave better results in the white variety. Alkaloid is anti-inflammatory, analgesics, anticancer, antimicrobial, local anesthetic and pain relief, and antifungal.
  • Flavonoid: The white Clitoria ternatea has a higher flavonoid, which is good as anticancer, antioxidative activity, anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging capacity, prevents coronary heart problems, and antiviral.
  • Saponins and Tannins: The blue variety has a higher level of saponins and tannins. Saponins decrease blood lipids and blood glucose levels and lower cancer risks. Tannins can accelerate blood clotting and reduce blood pressure.
  • Glycosides: Higher in the white C. ternatea variety. Glycoside is a subgroup of flavonoids and is known for its antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antitumor activity.
  • Sugar and Starch: Sugar and starch contents are more in the white variety. This explained its high rate of photosynthesis and the high level of glycosides bounded-chemical groups.
  • Caffeic acid, Ferulic acid, β-sitosterol, and Lupeol (antioxidants/polyphenolic compounds): About similar in both varieties. They act as a neuroprotective effect and also act against glioblastoma, neuroblastoma, and various neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Anthocyanins: The blue butterfly pea flower has a significant amount of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that gives the flowers their characteristic blue color. Anthocyanins act as antioxidants and fight free radicals, and may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. The white variety, however, does not contain anthocyanins.

For easier review, these are summarized and tabulated as follow:

++ indicates a higher level. This study showed the white-flowered butterfly peas are therapeutically more active and therefore the preferred variety for medicinal purposes.

Phytochemicals etc.White Flower VarietyBlue Flower Variety

Ash Value

++

+

Acid Insoluble Ash

+

++

Silicate & Silica Content

+

++

Carbonates & Phosphates

++

+

Polar Compounds

++

+

Alkaloids

++

+

Flavonoids

++

+

Saponins & Tannins

+

++

Glycosides

++

+

Sugar & Starch

++

+

Caffeic acid, Ferulic acid, β-sitosterol & Lupeol

+

+

Anthocyanins

none

+

The above studies clearly indicated the higher therapeutic values for the white butterfly pea flower variety due to the higher flavonoid, phenolics, sugar, and starch contents.

Pharmacological Importance – Other Plant Parts of Butterfly Pea Plant

Let us now move on to the other parts of the plant.

Butterfly Pea Nutrition Facts

We know from several studies [1][2][3][7] that the butterfly pea plant has the following phytochemicals: tannins, phlobatannin, saponins, carbohydrates, phenols, triterpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, proteins, flavonol glycosides, anthraquinones, cardiac glycosides, anthocyanins, Stigmast 4-ene-3,6-dione, volatile oils, cyclotides, peptides, and steroids.

Butterfly Pea Benefits

These are the compounds responsible for the butterfly pea plant's pharmacological benefits, which are:

  • The central nervous system – Based on this study[8], butterfly pea extract has a calming effect on the body and it helps people suffering from depression. It also acts as an anti-stress, anticonvulsant, nootropic, and anxiolytic activity.
  • Digestive system – The antioxidants in butterfly peas can relax the stomach muscles and this aids digestion. It is also a mild laxative and it can kill parasitic worms in the gut.
  • Respiratory systems – As reported in the study[9], the bronchodilator properties and antiasthmatic activity of butterfly pea assist in the treatment of severe bronchitis and asthma. These are due to the presence of flavonoids, the steroidal nucleus in form of triterpenoids, and various other saponin glycosides.
  • Circulatory system – Extracts from butterfly pea can lower blood pressure and reduce a fever by expanding the blood vessels and this will increase blood flow. It also improves eyesight by increasing blood flow to the eye's capillaries. This is useful for people with blurred vision, glaucoma, and tired eyes.
  • Urinary system – Butterfly pea is a diuretic and this combat urinary infection.
  • Reproductive system – The aphrodisiac benefits are due to the high antioxidant levels in butterfly pea. It aids normal sperm production and acts against testicular damage. For women, extracts of butterfly pea can treat menstrual problems and white vaginal discharge (leucorrhoea).
  • Integumentary system (our body skin and its associated structures) – The flavonoids help boost collagen production and hence, improve and increase skin elasticity.

Butterfly pea's benefits also include its antioxidant activity, anti-cancer, anti-nausea, mild-laxative, hypolipidemic, anti-HIV, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiasthmatic, expectorant, analgesic, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, insecticidal, spermatogenic, gastro-intestinal antiparasitic, and hemostasis (helps stop bleeding).

It can also aid against diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, whooping cough, dysuria (difficulty urinating), goiter, and leprosy. For skincare, it boosts collagen production and moisturizes the skin.

Which Part of the Plant?

For all that, which part of the plant has the most or none of the above phytochemicals, and which part gives most of the above benefits?

Find out which part of the butterfly pea plant has the most or none of the phytochemicals, and which part gives most of the benefits.

Find out which part of the butterfly pea plant has the most or none of the phytochemicals, and which part gives most of the benefits.

Physicochemical Characteristics of Butterfly Pea Plant

Since physicochemical values of plants are useful to ascertain the purity and strength of the plant, they will be used to identify the part of the plant that is more potent.

Accordingly, from the report[5] by Ali Esmail Al-Snafi, the potency level for different parts of the butterfly pea plant was identified. It was based on the concentration of primary metabolites and the physicochemical values in different parts of butterfly pea, which is summarized and tabulated as follow:

(mg/100g dry weight. Data expressed in mean ±SD.)
Value in the bold text indicates the highest value for that metabolite for the butterfly blue pea plant.

Primary MetabolitesStemFlowerLeavesSeedsRoots

Total Ash

9.71±0.39

9.84±0.09

10.93±0.29

3.80±0.42

9.5±0.50

Insoluble Ash

0.0

0.90±0.95

3.64±0.03

0.0

2.75±0.034

Soluble Mineral

9.71±0.39

8.94±0.52

7.29±0.16

3.80±0.42

6.75±0.27

Crude Protein

29.17±0.66

41.27±0.23

33.36±0.23

43.41±0.14

14.424±0.45

Total Lipid

10.91±0.08

1.79±0.07

1.81±0.05

7.78±0.11

1.351±0.22

Crude Fiber

39.68±0.27

17.92±0.06

14.45±0.09

33.22±0.04

40.722±0.06

Soluble Carbohydrate

10.53±0.04

29.18±0.15

39.45±0.25

20.79±0.08

34.003±0.74

Most Potent Part of the Plant

The above analysis showed varying amounts of primary metabolites in different parts of the plant. The highest overall physicochemical value is in the butterfly pea seeds followed closely by the leaves, flower, stem, and lastly, the roots.

Analysis of butterfly pea leaves, stems, and seeds for alkaloid profile resulted in 26 different types of alkaloids. From the analysis, butterfly pea seeds yielded the most alkaloids i.e.10, of which, 7 alkaloids were unique to the seeds.

Hence, the butterfly pea seeds are the most potent.

Butterfly Pea Benefits

Irrespective of the overall phytochemical findings, each part of the plant has its own higher potency of specific phytochemicals. Hence, each part of the butterfly pea plant has its own benefits for certain ailments. Based on several studies [1][2][5][7], these benefits for each part of the plant are summarized as follow:

Benefits of Butterfly Pea Seeds

The fatty acid content of butterfly pea seeds includes stearic, palmitic, oleic, linolenic acids, and linoleic. The seeds also contain cinnamic acid, glucoside, anthoxanthin, finotina (a highly basic small protein), water-soluble mucilage, delphinidin 3, 3’, 5’-triglucoside, and beta-sitosterol, which help in the following:

  • Larvicidal Action Against Aedes Mosquito: Seed extracts are used as pesticide control of Aedes mosquito larvicidal activities.
  • Wound Healing: Extracts of both blue pea's seed and root extracts can improve wound healing, which is applied as an ointment. This is attributed to flavonol glycoside and phenolic compounds.
  • Antimicrobial and Antifungal: Seed extracts exhibited both antimicrobial and antifungal activities.
  • Immunomodulatory: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the seed and root extracts stimulate or suppress the immune system to fight cancer and other diseases.
  • Cholesterol: Both the seed and root extracts of butterfly pea can reduce the total serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The seed extracts, in traditional medicinal uses, include:

  • Mild Laxative: Seeds of butterfly pea are powdered and mixed with ginger and given as a laxative.
  • Inflammation, Hepatic Disorder, and Brain Tonic: In Ayurvedic treatment, extracts of butterfly pea roots, leaves, and seeds are used in the treatment of hepatic disorder (liver disease), inflammation, and as a brain tonic for improved memory and intelligence. (as per Mukherjee et al.'s report).

Benefits of Butterfly Pea Leaves

The phytochemical analysis of butterfly pea leaves, as reported in the Journal of Natural Remedies, showed the presence of ash, moisture, crude fiber, protein, and carbohydrate. Among the various macronutrients are nitrogen with the highest quantity, followed by potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron, zinc, manganese, and copper. These phytochemicals help in the following:

  • Green Colorants: Butterfly pea is always associated with the natural bright blue colorant added in a variety of food and drinks such as blue tea. Did you know that the chlorophyll from butterfly leaves can also produce the natural green colorant? This green colorant is also used in food and as a natural dye for the textile industry such as in batik production.
  • Antifungal: Leaf extract is used in antifungal prevention against filamentous fungi.
  • Cytotoxic Activity: Cytotoxic agents such as chemotherapy drugs and certain venoms can cause body cell damage. Extract of butterfly pea leaves and 3 fractions (methanol, n-hexane, di-chlormethane) showed promising cytotoxic activity to help people recover from cytotoxic agents.
  • Diuretic Activity: Using the three solvent extracts, the butterfly pea leaves extracts showed remarkable diuretic properties and this is due to saponins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): Leaf and flower extracts of Clitoria ternatea significantly reduced serum glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, and activities of the gluconeogenic enzyme, glucose-6-phosphatase. There was an increase in serum insulin, liver and skeletal muscle glycogen, and activity of the glycolytic enzyme, glucokinase.
  • Plant Sugar for Diabetes: Butterfly pea leaves have the highest plant sugars in the form of soluble carbohydrates and can be used as an artificial sweetener or help with diabetes.
  • Hypertension: The leaves extract, due to the potential antioxidant activity, is beneficial for hypertension.

In traditional medicine, extract of butterfly pea leaves are used for:

  • Swollen Joints and Edema: In the Philippines, poultices of butterfly pea leaves are used for swollen joints and edema (swelling due to excess fluid trapped in the body's tissues).
  • Rashes or Eruption of Skin Lesions: Infusion of butterfly pea leaves is used for rashes and eruptions of skin lesions.
  • Earache: Warm leaf juice of Clitoria ternatea brewed with common salt is applied around swellings near the ears for earache.
  • High Fever (AntiPyretic): Juice of leaves mixed with green ginger is used to bring down the fever.
  • Scabies: In Southern India, leaf juice from butterfly pea is taken twice daily for six continuous days for scabies treatment.
  • Catarrh and Headache: In Southern India, leaf extracts of butterfly pea are used to treat catarrh and headache.
  • Urinary Problem etc.: In Bangladesh, both the leaves and roots extract of Clitoria ternate are used for urinary tract infections, infrequent and frequent urination. Also used for the treatment of pain, tumor, edema, snake bites, and indigestion.
  • Body Aches, Anthelmintic, Animal Stings: Leaves and roots extracts of butterfly pea are used to treat body aches, as anthelmintic (destroy parasitic worms), and as an antidote to animal stings.
Butterfly blue pea or clitoria flower is used as colorant in Malaysian food nasi kerabu and abok abok, in blue tea and in lollipop

Butterfly blue pea or clitoria flower is used as colorant in Malaysian food nasi kerabu and abok abok, in blue tea and in lollipop

Benefits of Butterfly Pea Flowers

Phytochemical analysis of butterfly pea flowers reported the presence of kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin glycoside, anthocyanins (in the blue colored variety only), and various flavanol glycosides. Macronutrients include protein, fibre, carbohydrate moisture, fat, and a high content of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, sodium, and iron. These phytochemicals are responsible for:

  • Natural Blue Colorant: The blue color of butterfly pea flowers contains anthocyanins and is used as a natural blue food coloring. It is rare to find natural blue colorants as they are usually sensitive to processing and storage conditions. Butterfly pea flowers are not sensitive to these two issues and they also have no scent or flavor. Hence, butterfly pea flowers are perfect as food and drink coloring agents since they don’t change the original flavor. In Southeast Asia, these are commonly used as natural food coloring for food and drinks in Malay and Thai foods such as nasi kerabu, the Nyoya’s abok-abok, and Thai herbal blue tea. Butterfly pea flower also has a longer shelf life compared to other plant-based colorants.
  • Anthocyanins in Blue Colored Butterfly Pea Flower: Anthocyanins also act as antioxidants, fight free radicals, offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. As mentioned earlier, anthocyanins are not present in the white-colored variety.
  • Nerve Tonic: The white C. ternatea flower has phytochemicals phenolics- kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, glycosides, and fatty acid content that includes palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids. These act as a nerve tonic and as a neuroprotective drug.
  • Brain Tonic: The white butterfly pea flower, with the above phytochemicals, also acts as a brain tonic and has memory and intelligence enhancing properties.
  • Anthocyanins and Delphinidin Glucoside in Blue Flowered Variety: Pharmacologically, it can improve cognitive abilities, degenerative disorders, nootropic, and anticonvulsant activities.
  • Heart Health: The presence of high flavonoids, phenolic acids (antioxidants properties), sugar, and starch content in the white variety of butterfly pea flowers has positive effects on cardiovascular and heart health.
  • Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Tea: The blue-colored butterfly pea flowers (fresh or dried) are infused in hot water to make blue tea. It can be drunk hot or cold.

    Drinking blue tea is one way to enjoy the benefits of butterfly pea flowers. Another unique blue butterfly pea flower tea benefits are their ability to change colors. So your blue tea can change to purple or pink by lowering the pH with the addition of something acidic like lemon or lime juice. If you increase the pH by adding something alkaline like saffron, the blue color will change to green. It is antioxidant and caffeine-free.

  • Testicular Damage: Extracts of butterfly pea flower aids in normal sperm production and give protection from testicular damage.
  • Hair Loss/Growth and Grey Hair: Butterfly pea flower benefits for hair include reducing greying hair and assisting hair loss by promoting hair growth. This is due to the higher bioflavonoids in white Clitoria ternatea.
  • Skincare/Beauty Care Product: In the study by Li Hsien Chen et al. fermented butterfly pea flower solution was applied as a face mask. The results showed a reduction of skin redness, allergies, itching, and irritation to the skin. The antioxidant properties in butterfly pea flowers also promote moisture retention and whitening effects. These are suitable for natural beauty care and cosmetic products.

In traditional medicine, the butterfly pea flower is used:

  • As a brain tonic to enhance cognitive functions.
  • Alleviate symptoms of numerous ailments.

Benefits of Butterfly Pea Stems

Phytochemical analysis of butterfly pea stems revealed the presence of phytosterols, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and carbohydrates. They assist in the following:

  • Antianxiety: The extract of the blue variety butterfly pea stems showed mild antianxiety and antioxidant activities.
  • Antimicrobial Activity: All parts of butterfly pea i.e. leaf, flower, stem, and root have antimicrobial activity against certain disease-forming bacteria in our body: S. aureus, B. cereus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, K. pneumonia, S. agalactiae and A. hydrophila.
  • Anthelmintic: Stem and root extracts of butterfly pea are used as anthelmintic (destroy parasitic worms), and the root is the most potent followed by stem extracts.
  • Snake Bites & Scorpion Sting: The root, stem, and flower extracts of butterfly pea are used to treat snakebite and scorpion sting.

Benefits of Butterfly Roots

Phytochemical analysis of butterfly pea root extracts confirmed the presence of tannins, resins, flavonoids, saponins, and phenols that are responsible for:

  • Antinociceptive: Extract of butterfly pea roots showed significant antinociceptive (inhibition on the sensation of pain) and antioxidant activities.
  • Nitrogen Fixation: The roots of butterfly pea produce large nodules that have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in soils. Hence, it is an ideal plant for a crop rotation system.
  • Anticancer: Taraxerol, an anticancer triterpenoid compound is found to be naturally produced in butterfly pea roots.
  • Anthelmintic: Root and stem extracts of butterfly pea are used as anthelmintic (destroy parasitic worms), and the root is most potent followed by stem extracts.
  • Acetylcholine: Root extracts exhibited an increase in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine's content in the brain.
  • Diuretic and Natriuretic Effects: Butterfly pea root extracts exhibited diuretic and natriuretic effects for urinary problems.
  • Improved Memory: Butterfly pea root extracts have the benefits of improved memory retention and spatial learning
  • Antidepressant etc.: The root extract of Clitoriternatea has nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and anti-stress activities.
  • Antiasthmatic: Antiasthmatic activity of butterfly pea root extract was assessed by preliminary phytochemical screening and the result revealed a positive effect i.e. beneficial as antiasthmatic.
  • Reduce Body Temperature During High Fever (Antipyretic): The butterfly pea root extracts also help to reduce body temperature in cases of high fever by expanding blood vessels just beneath the skin. This increases blood flow and will cool down body temperature.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Extracts of butterfly pea roots extract can reduce total cholesterol levels, hence assisting in cardiovascular health.

In traditional medicine, extracts of butterfly pea roots are used for:

  • Menstruation, Leucorrhoea, and Liver Problems: In Cuba and parts of India, extracts of butterfly pea roots are used for women's leucorrhoea ( yellowish or whitish color discharge from the vagina) and menstrual problems, induce uterine contractions, and treat liver and intestinal problems.

Is Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea) Safe to Use?

The clinical study on Clitoria ternatea showed huge biological potential in the plant. Its safety and effectiveness with regard to its bioactive secondary metabolites, bioavailability, etc. offer comprehensive evidence for its usage in various medications and drug development. The natural available and aqueous extracts of Clitoria ternatea can be further exploited as a source of the useful phytochemical compound for the pharmaceutical market.

— Sameer Quazi et al.

Blue Butterfly Pea Powder

The only way to enjoy the benefits from every part of the butterfly pea is to plant your own white or blue butterfly pea plant. You cannot easily buy fresh, dried, or powdered leaves, roots, stems, or seeds of the butterfly pea plant.

In the market, you can only buy the blue butterfly pea flower, either in dried or in powdered form. Even the white butterfly pea flower is not available. You can, however, buy the seeds, which are meant for planting, and use them for medicinal use.

How to Use Butterfly Pea Flower – Fresh, Powdered and Dried Flower

I have my own butterfly pea plant and I usually have them fresh in my salad or ulam. I also use fresh and dried flowers to make blue tea. I don't use the powdered butterfly pea flower, which is sometimes referred to as blue matcha. If you do, it is usually for coloring cakes, bread, smoothies, and desserts.

Blue Butterfly Pea Powder Benefits

Anthocyanins in the powdered blue flowers are loaded with antioxidants which showed improved cardiovascular health, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and reduced risk of cancer.

Do Butterfly Pea Flowers Have Any Side Effects?

As highlighted in several studies and reports, butterfly pea flowers are generally safe if taken in moderation. If you are on medication for any existing health conditions, you should consult your doctor before taking butterfly pea flowers or the related products i.e. the leaves, seeds, roots, and stems.

Where Can I Buy Butterfly Pea Powder?

You can easily buy butterfly pea powder from online vendors or from any health or specialty food store or even tea shops. Butterfly pea powder is sometimes labeled as blue pea flower powder, butterfly pea flower powder, butterfly pea tea powder, blue butterfly pea powder, or blue pea powder. They are all the same thing.

If you are buying the dried butterfly pea flower, it is also labeled as blue pea flower, Clitoria flower, blue butterfly pea flower, and Clitoria ternatea flower.

Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) has wide applications not only in the medical but also in food, agriculture, cosmetic and beauty care, and landscaping/gardening.

Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) has wide applications not only in the medical but also in food, agriculture, cosmetic and beauty care, and landscaping/gardening.

Can You Smoke Butterfly Pea Flowers?

It sounds like a weird question, but based on the study by Md. Bakhtiar Lijon on the plant's phytochemistry and pharmacological activities, yes, you can smoke butterfly pea flowers. The benefits of smoking butterfly pea flowers are:

  • Respiratory Problems: Smoking butterfly pea flowers can relieve respiratory problems such as asthma.
  • Tobacco-Free Filler: If you roll your own cigarette, you can use it as a natural tobacco-free tobacco filler.
  • Nicotine Free: It is nicotine and caffeine-free.
  • Safe to Smoke: It is generally safe to smoke butterfly pea flower, which is loaded with antioxidants. This is another way to enjoy the benefits of butterfly pea flowers.

What Happens If You Smoke Butterfly Pea Flower

Smoking butterfly pea flowers won't get you high. It is relaxing as it gives you a calming feel and it possesses tranquilizing properties.

Clitoria Ternatea is Safe and Can Be Eaten Raw

In the medical sector, it is hoped that further studies will be carried out in order to develop and use the beneficial compounds in C. ternatea to formulate new and

powerful antimicrobial drugs of natural sources since the whole parts of plant C. ternatea show potential as an antimicrobial agent. Additionally, people can be educated on the benefits of C. ternatea as an antibacterial agent in the body system and which could be eaten raw.

— Nadzirah Jamil et al. "Antimicrobial activity from leaf, flower, stem, and root of C. ternatea"

Benefits of Drinking Butterfly Pea Flower Tea

The benefits of butterfly pea flower tea or blue tea are:

  • It is a caffeine-free herbal tea.
  • You can drink on a daily basis and is suitable for people that are sensitive to caffeine especially children and the elderly.
  • It can reduce fatigue.
  • It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
  • The blue variety of butterfly pea flowers has anthocyanins, which are known to improve cardiovascular health, are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and reduce the risk of cancer.

From several studies[1][2][3][5], butterfly pea tea is safe with no side effects if taken in moderation.

How to Make Butterfly Pea Flower Tea (Blue Tea)

To make tea butterfly pea flower tea:

  1. Steep 5 -10 fresh or dried blue butterfly pea flowers in a ceramic teapot of hot water for about 10 minutes. Don't use a metallic cup or teapot as you will lose its therapeutic properties.
  2. Strain the flowers and pour your hot blue tea into a ceramic cup.
  3. That's it. You are done. Enjoy.
  4. Tips: The blue color in the flower petals is still strong even after 2-3 uses. So, don’t throw the flower after the initial steeping in hot water. You can easily use it for 2 or 3 more rounds of blue tea!

The Downside of Blue Tea Due to Tannin

Blue tea contains tannins, which have several benefits. Unfortunately, tannin hinders iron absorption. The good news is, tannin level in blue tea is extremely low compared to black tea and green tea. So, this tannin issue in blue tea is no issue despite what you have read on most blog sites.

If you have iron deficiency problems, just to be on the safe side, drink your blue tea at least an hour before or after your meal.

Based on the study published in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, black tea has the highest level of tannins. This can affect people with sensitive stomachs and lead to nausea if drunk on an empty stomach.

How to Serve Blue Tea

You can serve it as it is or add honey if you prefer it sweet. For added variety to its bland flavor, add lemon slices, lemon juice, or lemongrass. This will also change the color accordingly from blue to purple or green depending on the pH.

Butterfly pea tea is also called by various names including blue tea, blue flower tea, blue butterfly pea tea, blue pea flower tea, butterfly pea flower tea, blue pea tea, and Clitoria ternatea tea.

Other Uses for Butterfly Pea Plant

Apart from medicinal and cosmetic or beauty applications, these wild herbal butterfly pea plants are also used:

In Landscaping

  • Flowers All Year Round: The butterfly pea plant is an evergreen climber and because the flower blooms all year round, it is popularly used in landscaping.
  • Easy to Grow: It is easy to grow, very hardy and easy to maintain, and has a high growth rate.
  • Used in Trellises, Pergolas, or Fences: Butterfly pea plants have heavy foliage, so I used them on my wall trellises to shade one of my walls from the hot afternoon sun. You can also use it on pergolas or fences.
  • How to Grow Butterfly Pea: The butterfly pea flower plant is a fast grower, but needs full sunlight throughout the day. You can grow the plant by soaking the dried seeds in water for 1 day before planting in the soil. You can also grow butterfly peas from cuttings by dipping the cutting in rooting hormone powder then rooting it in the vermiculite or moist sand.

In Agricultural Uses

  • Fodder and Forage Crop: The butterfly pea plant is also used in agricultural applications as fodder and as a nitrogen-fixing application. The livestock loves this highly palatable forage legume to other edible legumes.
  • Healthy Fodder: With its many phytochemicals, it is healthy fodder for animals.
  • Easily Regrow After Grazing: It is cheap, easy to grow, and can easily regrow after cutting or grazing.
  • High Yields: It gives high yields and can be used for rotational grazing.
  • Cover Crop: The plant can be used as a cover crop and green manure.
  • Suppresses Weeds: It easily suppresses perennial weeds.
  • Nitrogen-Fixing and Improvement of Soil Nutrient Content: Butterfly pea plant roots produce large round nodules that can enrich the soil through its nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Hence, ideal to use in a crop rotation system.
  • Self-Fertilizing Plant: The butterfly pea plant is one of the few plants that are self-fertilizing. Its ability to enrich the soil through nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules and the nutrients from the fallen dried flowers and leaves make it a cheap plant to have. Yet, it is rich in benefits for the agricultural sector.
  • Drought-Resistant Pasture: This hardy plant is used as drought-resistant pasture for grazing animals in arid and semi-arid regions.
  • Insecticide and Pesticide: Butterfly pea's phytochemicals are also effective as an eco-friendly insecticide and pesticide.

Butterfly Pea Flower Video

Wrapping Up

This amazing wild butterfly pea plant, where all parts of the plant have diverse ranges of pharmacological properties and pharmaceutical implementations, is not only easy to grow but cheap to maintain. This is evident in several studies and researches.

It is also proven the butterfly pea seeds are the most potent followed closely by the leaves, flowers, stems, and lastly the roots. But in terms of market availability, it is easier to buy the flower, either in dried or powdered form. So, even though the flower is not the most potent therapeutically, it is sufficient to enjoy the several benefits of butterfly pea.

As reported earlier, the white-colored variety has higher therapeutic values but unfortunately, it is not easily available. In the market, you can buy the blue-colored butterfly pea flower in dried and powdered form.

The plant has wide applications not only in the medical but also in food, agriculture, cosmetic and beauty care, and landscaping/gardening.

So, to truly enjoy all the benefits of butterfly pea, you have to grow your own plant. After all, it is easy to grow, maintain, and hardy.

References

  1. Clitoria ternatea Linn: A Herb with Potential Pharmacological Activities: Future Prospects as Therapeutic Herbal Medicine — This report reviews the pharmacological properties and activities of the plant including its anti-convulsion, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, nootropic, anti-stress, antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, cytotoxicity, analgesic, platelet aggregation inhibitory, cytotoxicity, and hepatoprotective.
  2. Antimicrobial Activity from Leaf, Flower, Stem, and Root of Clitoria ternatea – A Review — This report reviews the plant's antimicrobial activities against selected microorganisms
  3. Comparative Pharmacognostical Studies of Blue and White Flower Varieties of Clitoria ternatea l. — A pharmacognostic study comparing the blue and white butterfly fly pea flower varieties.
  4. Flavonoid composition related to petal color in different lines of Clitoria ternatea. — This study identified the quantum and strength of anthocyanins and flavonolglycosides in various colored butterfly pea flowers and the relationship between flower petal colors and their flavonoid composition.
  5. Pharmacological importance of Clitoria ternatea – A Review — This study highlights the chemical constituents and pharmacological effects of butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea).
  6. Assessment of genetic diversity in Clitoria ternatea populations from different parts of India — The study revealed the different colored varieties of butterfly pea flowers' properties have very low genetic diversity irrespective of the geographical locations.
  7. The Ayurvedic medicine Clitoria ternatea — From traditional use to scientific assessment. — This study reviewed the medicinal uses of butterfly pea in traditional medicine such as Ayurvedic and its scientific assessment.
  8. Clitoria ternatea and the CNS — Butterfly pea was studied for its cognitive behavior, stress, anxiety, convulsion, and depression effects.
  9. Antiasthmatic effect of roots of Clitorea ternatea Linn — The study evaluated the antioxidant and antiasthmatic activity of butterfly pea roots.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Mazlan A

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