IndusFresh Details

By TPCI | August 7, 2019

Shaped like a conch, the butterfly pea flower, or Clitoriaternatea as it is described in scientific lexicon, is a delight to behold. In Hindu religion, the flower is used in the worship of Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva. In fact, Hindu mythology has it that butterfly pea is a heavenly plant brought to earth by Guru Shukracharya. Some studies offer a plausible explanation why the plant is revered.

Documented in Aurvedic texts

Abundantly found in southern India, these therapeutic properties of butterfly pea have long been documented in Ayurvedic texts, which particularly recognise the plant’s action on the central nervous system. Extracts of the flower are traditionally used for the treatment of neurological disorders or as a brain and nervine tonic and laxative. It is also used to thicken hair naturally. Along with brahmi (Centellaasiatica), the flower is known to be used to sharpen memory. But what makes it a potent herb is that it has little side effects. Several leading Ayurvedic brands today offer shankhpushpi juice as a health tonic.

A brilliant flash of blue

Scientific evidence notwithstanding, the flower is extensively used in several cuisines across Asia (see ‘Shankhpushpi tea’). In South East Asia, the royal blue ones are used to colour rice. In Thailand, they are used to impart a blue colour to cakes and other dessert delicacies. In India also this flower is gaining popularity as a food colourant. One can buy the dried ones online and from Ayurvedic shops, but has to be careful as several other flowers, such as Convolvulus pluricaulis, Evolvulusalsinoides and Can scora decussate, are also known as shankhpushpi. But there is nothing like plucking fresh blue flowers and brewing a soothing cup of tea. 

The Butterfly pea is an amazing plant, with a rich history of use in traditional Asian medicine. Many believe this plant to be a true gift of nature as almost all parts of the plant were known to have beneficial effects, the seeds are said to be purgative, the flowers are an aphrodisiac and the dried herb is an anti-anxiety agent, antidepressant and anticonvulsant.

Your friend in Diabetes!

‘The plant has therapeutic values and can be used in the war against diabetes,’ says a study published in January 2018 issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The researchers tested the effect of Clitoriaternatea tea (a beverage made using the flower extracts) on healthy men and found that their blood glucose and insulin levels were lower even if they consumed the tea with sucrose. This reduction did not happen when the tea was consumed without sucrose. The researchers now plan to study the effect of the tea when consumed with complex carbohydrates such as white rice and bread. Positive results would prove a simple food based interventions to fight diabetes, says the study paper.

With a sudden shift in “consumption trends” to organic, many Indian tea makers, like Teayamo, Brew House and others have started using Himalayans and other indigenous herbs, like the blue pea flower, in their products brewed with the authentic tea leaves from the kosher Indian tea gardens. Developing an awareness among the masses, these brands also cater the healthy needs of niche tea products in the domestic and the international market, via exports, as well.