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Cajanus cajan


Cytisus cajan, Cytisus pseudocajan, Cajan inodorum, Cajanus flavus, Cajanus indicus, Cajanus striatus, Cajanum thora, Cajanus luteus, Cajan cajan, Cajanus pseudocajan, Cajanus obcordifolia [8]

Vernacular Names:


Kacang Kayu, Kacang Dal, Kacang Hiris

English Pigeon Pea, Congo Pea, Red Gram, Yellow Dhal

Kacang Bali, Ritik Lias (Sumatra); Kacang Hiris, Kacang Gude, Gude, Kacang Kayu (Java); Kekace, Undis (Bali); Lebui, Legui, Kacang Iris, Kacang Turis (Nusa Tenggara); Binatung, Kance (Sulawesi); Puwe Jai, Fou Hate (Maluku)


Cadyos, Cagyos, Gablas, Kagios, Kalios, Kadios


Shu Tuo, Mu Dou




Arhar, Tuver (Hindi); Tuvarika, Tuvari, Adhaki (Sanskrit)


Waken-damfami, Waken-turawa (Hausa), Lubia adassi, Ads sudani




Mbaazi (Swahili), Njugu (Kik)


Mbaazi, Mbani


Nandolo, mtambe za miti, Mbange, Nyandolo, Mbelemende, Imbanga


Mpeni, Nyamundolo, Mponso, Nyangu

Uganda Kapenda, Mpinnamutu, Ekilimite, Apenu, Lopena
Ethiopia Yewof-ater, Ohota-farengota
Somalia Salboco-ghed
French Pois cajan, Pois congo, Pois d’Angolie, Pois de bois, Pois de sept an, Pois de lisiere, Ambrevade
German Straucherbse
Portuguese Feijao-guando, guandu, guisante-de-angola
Spanish Cachito, Gandul [1][2][3][4][7][8][12]

General Information


Cajanus cajan is a short-lived perennial tree of the Fabaceae family. It may reach to a height of 4m. The stems are angles and covered with fine hairs. The leaves are trifoliate with the terminal leaflet on a longer petiole than the two lateral leaflets. The leaflets measures up to 10cm x 3cm, are entire, lanceolate and hairy, with the under-surface silvery grey and dotted with yellow resin glands. The flowers are formed in either terminal or axillary racemes measuring up to 12cm and usually carry several flowers which are up to 2.5cm long. The flowers are usually yellow but variants from the standards include striped or splotched with red or purple in colour. The pods are flattened, up to 10cm x 1.5cm and contains from two to eight seeds. The seeds are smooth, measure 4-8mm in diametre, and green when immature but turns white, grey, yellow, purple, red or black at maturity. The seed colour may be entire or mottled.[9]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, stem, and roots [5] [10] [11]

Chemical Constituents

2’-o-methylcajanone; 5,2'-dihydroxy-7,4'-dimethoxyisoflavone; 5,2',4'-trihydroxy-7-methoxyisoflavone; 5,2'-dihydroxy-7,4'-dimethoxyisoflavone; 5,7,2',4'-tetrahydroxyisoflavone; 5,7,4'-trihydroxyisoflavone; 7-hydroxy-4'-methoxyisoflavone; alpha-copaene; alpha-himachalene; alpha-humulene; beta-himachalene; cajaminose; cajanin; cajaninstilbene acid; cajaquinone; concajanin; gamma-himachalene; lupeol; orientin; phytic acid; pinostrobin; vitexin[5]

Traditional Used:

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The seeds or leaves of C. cajan is used to treat stomachache in some African countries. Either the pounded seeds mixed with water or a decoction of the leaves is given for this purpose. Jaundice is treated by giving a paste of the leaves mixed with salt and water on an empty stomach. The leaves again are used in treating diarrohea. As a remedy for toothache and other oral problems the leaves are chewed on or in a decoction as a mouthwash. In some areas of Africa the stalk and roots are chewed on to relieve toothache. In Madagascar, the leaves are used to clean teeth. Another use of leafy preparation is the expulsion of intestinal worms. A preparation of the roots is given for stomach problems.[5] [10] [11]

Infective Diseases

The leaves of C. cajan is used in the treatment of measles both in the Asian and African continents. Generally the juice of the leaves are applied over the lesions, but in Africa a decoction of the leaves is also given. The juice is also used to treat gonorrhea both in Africa and Asia. Other uses of the leafy preparations included eye infections, earaches, sorethroat, and sore gums. The roots on the other hand is a remedy for syphilis.[5] [10] [11]

Other uses

Other uses of various parts of the plants includes the treatment of anaemia, dizziness, epilepsy, cough and even for induction of labour where the juice extract of the leafy twigs is used.[5] [10] [11]

Pre-Clinical Data


Hepatoprotective activity

Studies[13] [14] [15] first reported the hepato-protective activity of C. cajan in 1998. They found that the purified protein fraction from the leaves could decrease the activities of serum transaminase alkaline phosphatase and decreased levels of serum bilirubin in carbon tetrachloride induced hepatic necrosis in Swiss albino mice. These findings were confirmed by histopathological studies of the liver. They further purified Cl-1 protein which also showed hepatoprotective activity, this time against beta-galactosamine induced hepatic damage in rats. This Cl-1 protein was found to also inhibit the pathogenesis of lesions produced by hepatotoxins including paracetamol and ethanol.

Another study subsequently isolated and purified a 43kD protein from the leaves of C. cajan which they believed to be the active principle for its hepatoprotective action. This protein proved to have anti-oxidant [25] [26] [27] activity which could attribute to its hepato-protective activity. Their studies should the protein to play and important preventive and curative role against hepatotoxins i.e thioactamide[16] [17], chloroform [18] [19], acetaminophen [20] and galactosamine [21] and sodium fluoride.[22] Purification and characterization of the 43kD hepatoprotective protein was done in the study.[23] This protein is a single polypeptide chain having an apparent molecular weight of 43kD. The isoelectric point is 4.8; and loss of biological activity after heat and protease treatment confirmed its proteinous nature. The maximum hepatoprotective activity was observed at a dose of 2mg/kg body weight for 5 days. In an attempt to understand the mechanism, a study [24] found that the protein exerts its protective action via the activation of the NF-kappaB and Akt; and deactivation of STAT-1.

Nephroprotective activity

Similar to the hepatoprotective activity, the 43kD protein also possesses a nephroprotective activity. Study [28] found that in galactosamine induced nephrotoxicity, the 43kD protein was able to ameliorate the pathogenesis and subsequent renal failure. This effect could be an indirect one i.e via the hepato-protective mechanism.

Anticytotoxic activity

Study [29] found that the 43kD protein was able to protect mouse hepatocyte against CdCl2 induced cytotoxicity. This is again attributed to its antioxidant property.

Immunomodulatory activity

Cl-1 protein from leaves of C. cajan showed immunomodulatory activity. This is evidenced by its ability to enhance the IgG level, increase primary and secondary antibody response, facilitate delayed type hypersensitivity response and enhance leucocyte and macrophage migration inhibition response in mice sensitized with sheep red blood cells. In addition there were fewer anaphylactic shock symptoms observed in mice sensitized with bovine serum albumin, after CI-1 administration at a dose of 6.0mg/kg body weight. The immediate effect of CI-1 on anaphylactic shock was not seen when 150 microg of CI-1 was injected in combination with BSA. These results suggest that CI-1 influences both humoral and cell-mediated immune response.[30]

Antioxidant activity

Apart from the presence of 43kD proteins as a potent antioxidant factor in the leaves of Cajanus cajan, there are other compounds which showed antioxidant activity. Wu N et al. [31] found antioxidant activities in the aqueous and ethanol extracts of the leaves, as well as in the petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, n-butanol and water fractions. They isolated 4 main compounds from the ethanol extracts i.e. cajaninstilbene acid, pinostrobin, vitexin and orientin, to have significant antioxidant activity as evidenced by their reactivity in DPPH radical-scavenging assay and beta-carotene-linoleic acid test. Cajaninstilbene acid showed the highest and most efficient scavenging activity.

Anti-osteoporotic activity

Cajanine is isolated from extracts of Cajanus cajan was found to have a structure similar to diethylstilbestrol. Zheng YY et al found that it promoted the osteoblast cells proliferation and mineralized bone-like formation in HOS TE85 cells, while inhibiting derivations of osteoclast cells. They also found that the stilbene extracted from the plant were able to improved femoral structure in ovarectomized rats treated with 200 mg/kg of the extract while at the same time decrease FSH and LH content without affecting the serum 17beta-estradiol level and uterine weight. These results suggest that C. cajan could benefit women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.[32] [33]


Small amount of free cyanic acid has been detected after C. cajan beans have been cooked in open aluminium pots. The beans also contains polyphenols and one should be cautious of over consuming it. To reduce the polyphenol contents, the bean should be cooked in pressure cooker or presoaked in water for 18 hours or allow them to germinate for 48 hours before cooking them.[4]

Chronic administration of polyphenols to rats had caused the development of chronic nephropathy, and its use in mice had reduced the life expectancy. Some polyphenols have carcinogenic or genotoxic effects in high doses or concentration.[6]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. John Harry Wiersema, Blanca León World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference CRC Press LLC., Boca Raton 1999 pg. 952
  2. Elmer Drew Merrill  A Dictionary of the Plant Names of the Philippine Islands BiblioLife LLC, Manila 1903 pg. 41
  3. Charles Henry Robinson Dictionary of the Hausa Language Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1913 pg394
  4. Markus S. Mueller, Ernst Mechler Medicinal Plants in Tropical Countries: Traditional Use - Experience – Facts  Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart 2005  pg. 37, 39
  5. Ogunbinu AO, Flamini G, Cioni PL, Adebayo MA, Ogunwande IA. Constituents of Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp., Moringa oleifera Lam., Heliotropium indicum L. and Bidens pilosa L. from Nigeria. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Apr;4(4):573-8.
  6. Louise I Mennen, Ron Walker, Catherine Bennetau-Pelissero and Augustin Scalbert Riskes and Safety of Polyphenol Consumption Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2005; 81 (Suppl):326 – 9
  7. Setiawan Dalimartha Atlas Tumbuhan Obat Indonesia Trubus Agriwidya, Jakarta 2008 pg 65
  8. Peter Hanelt Mandfeld’s Encycolpedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops Volume 5 Springer-Verlag Berlin 2001 pg. 767
  9. Reinhart Hugo Michael Langer, G.D. Hill Agricultural Plants Cambridge University Press Cambridge 1991pg. 253 – 254
  10. M. Brink, G. Belay Cereals and Pulses PROTA Foundation/Backhuys Publishers Wageningen 2006 pg. 35
  11. C.P. Khare Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Springer-Verlag Berlin 2007 pg. 110
  12. FAO of United States Traditional Food Plants Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome 1988 pg. 130
  13. Datta S, Basu K, Sinha S, Bhattacharyya P. Hepatoprotective effect of a protein isolated from Cajanus indicus (Spreng) on carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in mice. Indian J Exp Biol. 1998 Feb;36(2):175-81.
  14. Datta S, Sinha S, Bhattacharyya P. Hepatoprotective activity of a herbal protein CI-1, purified from Cajanus indicus against beta-galactosamine HCl toxicity in isolated rat hepatocytes. Phytother Res. 1999 Sep;13(6):508-12.
  15. Datta S, Bhattacharyya P. Effect of a herbal protein CI-1, purified from Cajanus indicus on the ultrastructural study of hepatocytes, in models of liver failure in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Sep;77(1):11-8.
  16. Sarkar K, Ghosh A, Sil PC. Preventive and curative role of a 43kD protein from the leaves of the herb Cajanus indicus L on thioacetamide-induced hepatotoxicity in vivo. Hepatol Res. 2005 Sep;33(1):39-49. Epub 2005 Aug 8.
  17. Sarkar K, Sil PC. A 43 kDa protein from the herb Cajanus indicus L. protects thioacetamide induced  cytotoxicity in hepatocytes. Toxicol In Vitro. 2006 Aug;20(5):634-40. Epub 2006 Jan 3.
  18. Ghosh A, Sarkar K, Sil PC. Protective effect of a 43 kD protein from the leaves of the herb, Cajanus indicus L on chloroform induced hepatic-disorder. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Mar 31;39(2):197-207.
  19. Ghosh A, Sil PC. A 43-kDa protein from the leaves of the herb Cajanus indicus L. modulates chloroform induced hepatotoxicity in vitro. Drug Chem Toxicol. 2006;29(4):397-413.
  20. Sarkar K, Sil PC. Attenuation of Acetaminophen-Induced Hepatotoxicity In Vivo and In Vitro by a 43-kD Protein Isolated from the Herb Cajanus indicus L. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2007;17(6):305-15.
  21. Manna P, Sinha M, Sil PC. Galactosamine-induced hepatotoxic effect and hepatoprotective role of a protein isolated from the herb Cajanus indicus L in vivo. J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2007;21(1):13-23.
  22. Manna P, Sinha M, Sil PC. A 43 kD protein isolated from the herb Cajanus indicus L attenuates sodium fluoride-induced hepatic and renal disorders in vivo. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 May 31;40(3):382-95.
  23. Sarkar K, Ghosh A, Kinter M, Mazumder B, Sil PC. Purification and characterization of a 43 kD hepatoprotective protein from the herb Cajanus indicus L. Protein J. 2006 Sep;25(6):411-21.
  24. Ghosh A, Sil PC. Protection of acetaminophen induced mitochondrial dysfunctions and hepatic necrosis via Akt-NF-kappaB pathway: role of a novel plant protein. Chem Biol Interact. 2009 Jan 27;177(2):96-106. Epub 2008 Sep 12
  25. Sinha M, Manna P, Sil PC. A 43kD protein from the herb, Cajanus indicus L., protects against fluoride induced oxidative stress in mice erythrocytes. Pathophysiology. 2007 May;14(1):47-54. Epub 2007 Apr 2.
  26. Ghosh A, Sil PC. Anti-oxidative effect of a protein from Cajanus indicus L against acetaminophen-induced hepato-nephro toxicity. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Nov 30;40(6):1039-49.
  27. Ghosh A, Sil PC. A protein from Cajanus indicus Spreng protects liver and kidney against mercuric chloride-induced oxidative stress. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Sep;31(9):1651-8.
  28. Sinha M, Manna P, Sil PC. Amelioration of galactosamine-induced nephrotoxicity by a protein isolated from the leaves of the herb, Cajanus indicus L. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007 Apr 25;7:11.
  29. Sinha M, Manna P, Sil PC. Attenuation of cadmium chloride induced cytotoxicity in murine hepatocytes by a protein isolated from the leaves of the herb Cajanus indicus L. Arch Toxicol. 2007 Jun;81(6):397-406. Epub 2007 Jan 30.
  30. Datta S, Sinha S, Bhattacharyya P. Effect of a herbal protein, CI-1, isolated from Cajanus indicus on immune response of control and stressed mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Nov 30;67(3):259-67.
  31. Wu N, Fu K, Fu YJ, Zu YG, Chang FR, Chen YH, Liu XL, Kong Y, Liu W, Gu CB. Antioxidant activities of extracts and main components of Pigeonpea [Cajanuscajan (L.) Millsp.] leaves. Molecules. 2009 Mar 4;14(3):1032-43.
  32. Zheng YY, Yang J, Chen DH, Sun L. [Effects of the extracts of Cajanus cajan L. on cell functions in human osteoblast-like TE85 cells and the derivation of osteoclast-like cells] Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2007 Apr;42(4):386-91.
  33. Zheng YY, Yang J, Chen DH, Sun L. [Effects of the stilbene extracts from Cajanus cajan L. on ovariectomy-induced bone loss in rats] Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2007 May;42(5):562-5.

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