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Clitoria ternatea / Aparajita / Butterfly Pea - A Comprehensive Guide

Abstract

Clitoria ternatea, commonly known as "Butterfly Pea" or "Aparajita." This guide covers various aspects of the plant, including its Ayurvedic properties, morphology, habitat, and medicinal properties.

Introduction

Clitoria ternatea, commonly known as Butterfly Pea or Aparajita, is a perennial flowering plant with a rich history in traditional medicine, particularly in Ayurveda. It is native to Southeast Asia but is now found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. The plant's striking blue flowers have garnered attention not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for their potential health benefits.

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Classical Reference:- Bhavprakash nighantu - 327

Classical Categorization

In charak samhita as Shirovirechanopag dravya (Category of herbs used as Nasya)

Sanskrit Synonyms

  • Asphota (Has accessible fruit)
  • Vishnukranta (Considered as religious plant)
  • Girikarni (Leaves like ear of rats)

Morphology of Clitoria Ternatea

  • Leaves: The plant has compound leaves with three leaflets.
  • Flowers: The most distinctive feature is its bright blue, butterfly-shaped flowers with a white or yellow center.
  • Fruits: The fruits are long pods containing seeds.
  • Roots: The roots are often used for their medicinal properties.

Habitat and Distribution

Clitoria ternatea thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. It prefers well-drained soil and is often found near riverbanks and in open, sunny areas. Its native range includes Southeast Asia, but it has become naturalized in parts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific.

Ayurvedic Properties

  • Rasa (Taste) - Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter), Kashaya (Astringent)
  • Guna (Physical property) - Laghu (Light), Rooksha (Dry)
  • Veerya (Potency) - Sheeta (Cold potency)
  • Vipaka (Post digestion effect) - Katu (Pungent)
  • Effect on tridosha – Pacifies all the three doshas
  • Prabhava (Special effect) - Medhya (Nervine tonic)

Uses of Aprajita

In Ayurveda, Clitoria ternatea is classified as a "Medhya Rasayana" or a rejuvenating herb for the mind. It is associated with several Ayurvedic properties as follows:-

  • Mental Health: Aparajita is traditionally used to enhance cognitive functions, memory, and mental clarity. It is recommended for individuals dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Ayurvedic texts describe Aparajita as having anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for various inflammatory conditions.
  • Adaptogenic: It is considered an adaptogen, helping the body cope with stress and maintain balance.
  • Aphrodisiac: In some Ayurvedic texts, Clitoria ternatea is mentioned as an aphrodisiac, improving sexual vitality.
  • Skin Health: The plant is also used for skincare, with its extracts believed to promote healthy skin and reduce signs of aging.
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Medicinal Properties and Modern Research

Modern research on Clitoria ternatea is shedding light on its potential health benefits:

  • Cognitive Enhancement: Compounds in the plant have shown cognitive-enhancing effects by increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain.
  • Antioxidant Activity: The presence of anthocyanins and flavonoids in Butterfly Pea flowers provides antioxidant protection, reducing oxidative stress.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for chronic inflammatory conditions.
  • Eye Health: The plant is explored for its potential to promote eye health, thanks to its antioxidant-rich composition.
  • Food Coloring: Butterfly Pea flowers are used as a natural food coloring agent, imparting a vibrant blue or purple hue to various dishes and beverages.

Traditional Uses and Preparation

In traditional medicine, various parts of Clitoria ternatea are used for different purposes:

  • Roots: The roots are often used in Ayurvedic preparations for their calming and adaptogenic properties. They are typically boiled or brewed as a decoction.
  • Flowers: The vivid blue flowers are used to make teas, tinctures, or infusions, and they are valued for their cognitive and eye health benefits.
  • Leaves: Some traditional remedies use the leaves for their anti-inflammatory properties, and they are often incorporated into herbal preparations.

Controversies about Clitoria ternatia

The word aprajita is not explained in Our brihatrayis i.e Charak, sushtrut and vagbhata samhita but in shirovirechanopag dravya a herb named shweta and maha shweta is mentioned in charak samhita. So later on Acharya chakrapani cleared that shweta is Aprajita and Maha shweta is katabhi.

Varieties of Aprajita

As per Bhavprakash nighantu:-

  1. Shwetapushpa Aprajita
  2. Nilapushpa Aprajita

Safety and Precautions

While Clitoria ternatea has a history of traditional use, it's essential to exercise caution:

  • Always consult with a healthcare professional or Ayurvedic practitioner before incorporating herbal remedies into your healthcare regimen.
  • Be aware of potential interactions with medications or pre-existing medical conditions.

Part Used

  1. Root bark
  2. Root
  3. Seeds

Dosage

  • Root bark Powder: 1-3 gms
  • Seeds Powder: 1-2 gms

Medicinal Products Containing Arka

  1. Arka Lavan
  2. Arka Taila
  3. Arkeshwar Rasa 

Conclusion

Clitoria ternatea, or Butterfly Pea, is a plant with a rich heritage in traditional medicine and is gaining recognition for its potential health benefits in modern research. From its Ayurvedic properties, its clear stunning flowers and numerous medicinal uses, this plant exemplifies the synergy between traditional wisdom and scientific exploration. As research continues, Clitoria ternatea may find its place as a valuable natural remedy for a range of health concerns, but always consult with experts before use.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

MD (ALT. MEDICINE)

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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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