Pigeon pea: 10 Amazing health benefits of Cajanus cajan

10 health benefits of Pigeon pea

Pigeon pea is cultivated for its numerous nutritional and medicinal benefits, and for its edible seeds.

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) is a perennial plant that best grow on tropical areas with adequate rainfall. It can withstand drought weather, which makes it good for cultivation in drought areas where rainfall is not reliable, due its drought resistance.

The seeds of pigeon pea are highly nutritious and contain high percentage of proteins that are of great benefits to your body. The leaves contain high fiber and proteins as well.

Though nutritious, the leaves are only used for livestock farming, and little or no attention has been given to the health benefits of Pigeon pea. But the amazing thing is that this plant can be one of the home remedies for several diseases.

Nutritional Values Of Pigeon pea

Cajanus cajan cleaves, seeds and roots possess several amino acids such as:

Essential Amino Acids:

  • Arginine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine
  • Lysine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Histidine
  • Methionine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan

Nonessential Amino Acids:

  • Alanine
  • Glutamine
  • Proline
  • Glycine
  • Tyrosine
  • Serine
  • Cysteine

Mineral Content Of Pigeon pea

The leaves, seeds and roots of Cajanus cajan is well endowed with some of the essential minerals such as:

  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Folate

Bioactive compounds in Pigeon pea

The bioactive compounds present in Pigeon pea include:

  • Alkaloids
  • Flavonoids
  • Tannins
  • Saponins
  • Cyanogenic glycoside
  • Glycoside
  • Anthocyanin

Health Benefits Of Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan)

Pigeon pea Benefits For Diabetes

Both the leaves and roots of pigeon pea posses strong antidiabetic properties, and they have been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetic patients. According to researches, both the leaves and roots can reverse the low secretion of insulin, which are usually caused by oxidative stress and autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells.

The leaves and roots of pigeon pea also inhibit α-glucosidase and α-amylase which are glucose absorption enzymes, thereby lowering serum glucose levels. Surprisingly, in normal rats, the methanolic extract of the leaves were found to greatly increase fasting blood glucose levels, which is a reversal of the effects observed in diabetic rats.

May Be Used In Treating Cancers

The roots of Pigeon pea possess a bioactive compound, Cajanol, which is an isoflavone with three phenolic hydroxyl and methoxyl groups. Cajanol exerts its anticancer activity against human breast cancer by inducing arresting the cell cycle in the G2/M phase and inducing apoptosis through a reactive oxygen species (ROS) –mediated mitochondrial-dependent pathway.

In another study on male prostate cancer, Cajanol was shown to inhibit cell cycle and modulate human prostate cancer PC-3 cell proliferation through the ERα associated PI3K signal-regulated pathways. In the same study, it was observed that the exposure to Cajanol could reduce the cell viability which was exhibited cell cycle transition and enhanced apoptosis.

These studies prove that Pigeon pea can be effectively used as a home remedy for treating both breast and prostate cancers, because of its strong anticancer benefits.

Read also: (Soursop bitters: 12 health benefits of Graviola leaves)

Pigeon pea Benefits in Viral Diseases

The leaves of Cajanus cajan contains an antiviral bioactive compound, Orientin, which has been extensively studied and shown to possess activity against certain viruses such as Hepatitis viruses, Herpes virus and may be involved in the antiviral activity of Pigeon pea leaves against measles virus.

In Eastern Nigeria, the lives of Cajanus cajan are used to treat measles. This has also been proved scientifically, making the plant such a great remedy for treating hepatitis and measles, and may be good for treating herpes virus.

Read also: (5 Home Remedies For Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection)

May Protect Your Liver From Toxic And Oxidative Damage

In addition to its antiviral efficacy against hepatitis, the leaves of Pigeon pea offers protection to your liver from alcoholic toxicity and from other damages caused by several drugs and foods that are toxic to the hepatic cells.

This may be attributed to the high presence of strong antioxidants and vitamin C in the leaves.

May Be Used Against Worms

If you are being disturbed by the worms in your body, it is time to get your body dewormed. Luckily, the leaves of Pigeon pea possess great anti-worm tannins and flavonoids, which shall, when taken, clear your systems of stubborn worms.

May Possess Hypocholesterolemia Effect

Cajanus cajan has hypocholesterolemia effect on patients with hypercholesterol levels. This was its ability to convert excess cholesterols to bile acids and by increasing CPT-1, LDL receptor, cholesterol-7-α hydroxylase, antioxidant enzymes and further increasing lipid peroxidation.

By drinking a Pigeon pea leaf tea, your cholesterol levels will greatly decrease, thereby protecting you from possible risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.

May Reduce Your Glucose Level

High glucose level in your body is an indication that your body lack insulin or has low secretion of insulin, which is inadequate to transport your blood glucose to cellular compartments. It can cause excess thirst and hunger, rapid heartbeat and excess urination due to excess intake of water to quench the excessive thirst. It can also lead to impaired vision and symptoms type-1 diabetes mellitus.

Whereas some researches argued that the seeds, leaves and roots possess hypoglycemic properties, some others argued that the leaves possess hyperglycemia properties on normal rats, under study.

It therefore, may be said that whereas the leaves may exhibit hypoglycemia activity in diabetic patients, it is useful for controlling hypoglycemia, which may be caused, occasionally by excess insulin and hypoglycemic drugs.

Cajanus Cajan May Protect You From Neurodegeneration

Pigeon pea have proved to of great benefit in the treatment of such neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson disease. It possess a chemical component, Pinostrobin, which suppresses voltage-gated sodium channels of mammalian brain based on its ability to suppress the depolarizing effects of the sodium channels selective activator, Veratridine. It also promoted phosphorylation of PI3K/AKT and ERK, and pharmacological inhibition of PI3K/AKT diminished Pinostrobin-induced Nrf2/ARE activation and protective actions, according to a study. In same study, Pinostrobin confers neuroprotection against MPTP/MPP+-induced neurotoxicity in Parkinson disease model.

May Possess Antioxidant And Anti-Aging Properties

Some of the antioxidants present in both the leaves and roots of Pigeon pea include cajaninstilbene acid, Pinostrobin, vitexin, and orientin. Others which may be peculiar to the root include genistein and genistin. These antioxidants scavenge free radicals released into the body in excess due to lipid peroxidation and oxidative metabolism.

Oxidative stress may be the underlying factor favoring autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and others. They are the underlying mechanism behind rapid aging and cellular apoptosis.

The antioxidants present in Pigeon pea can reverse these toxic effects of oxidative stress and maintain a youthful skin and look.

May Be Used In Treating Infections

The plant possesses antimicrobial and antibacterial activities against several urinary tract infections. It was proved to have activity against staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans. These prove that Pigeon pea can be good for treating both bacteria, fungal and viral infections.



Chuwen Li, Benqin Tang, Yu Feng, Fan Tang, Maggie Pui-Man Hoi, Ziren Su, and Simon Ming-Yuen Lee (Pinostrobin Exerts Neuroprotective Actions in Neurotoxin-Induced Parkinson’s Disease Models through Nrf2 Induction)Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2018 66 (31), 8307-8318DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b02607.

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Yuan-gang Zu, Xiao-lei , Yu-jie Fu, Nan Wu, YuKong, Michael W. Chemical composition of the SFE-CO2 extracts from Cajanus cajan (L.) Huth and their antimicrobial activity in vitro and in vivoPhytomed. 2010;17:1095–101.



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