Health Benefits of Sweet Pea Leaves – Toxic but Healthy

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Sweet pea is one of the flowering plant with unique appearance and appealing fragrance commonly found in Italy because this plant is native to Southern Italy. Not only that, sweet pea flowering plant is also one of the plant with medicinal properties used as traditional herbs to treat several health conditions. Some people may be familiar with the benefits of flowers for health and happiness but fewer people know about the health benefits of sweet pea leaves.

What Is Sweet Pea Plant?

Before discussing about the health benefits of sweet pea leaves is important for you to find out the information about what sweet pea is. Sweet pea is a flowering plant with scientific name Lathyrus odoratus which is native to Sicily, Cyprus, Southern Italy. This beautiful flowering plant is also able to be found in Aegean Islands. There are some varieties of sweet pea flowering, each variety has its own signature colour from the shades of pink, blue up to purple. To learn more about the health benefits of sweet pea leaves, you could see the list below for detail information.

  1. Source of Plant-Based Protein

There are a lot of plants which are excellent source of plant-based protein. Animal protein is good for human health but you should know that animal-based product is also source of cholesterol while cholesterol level is relatively low in plant-based product. This is also the reason why sweet pea plant is consumed as famine food.

  1. Contains Antioxidants Properties

There are a lot of health benefits of antioxidants for human health due to its amazing ability in fighting free radicals and preventing oxidative stress in cells. The best way of how to prevent cancers is by consuming foods high in antioxidants. Aside from the toxicity effect, sweet pea leaves are packed with potent antioxidants.

  1. Potent Antifungal Properties

Some early studies about the health benefits of sweet pea leaves stated that this flowering plant may contain potent antifungal properties. However, if you want to use it externally to fight fungi but with one condition, you could use it to fight skin problems caused by fungus but only for those who are not allergic to sweet pea. Due to its high toxicity effect, allergic reaction may occur with symptoms similar to the signs of wheat allergy like rashes and swollen skin are possible to occur. That is why you have to ensure yourself first that you have no allergic problem against sweet pea plant.

  1. Natural Fragrances

Traditionally, people are using sweet pea flowering plant as ornamental plant to be planted in their garden or a vase, aside from that not only because of its beautiful appearance but also because of its natural fragrances.  This flower is among aromatic herbs list and health benefits are amazing for human. The fresh flowers and leaves could be used as natural air refresher with strong and sweet smell combined. However, there are also some people who prefer to use the dried flowers and leaves, which offer more spicy and herbal fragrance to the room. Some perfume products are also using the extract of sweet pea flowers and leaves as their main signature of aroma.

  1. One of the Main Cosmetic Ingredients

There are some factors why sweet pea plants are commonly used as cosmetic ingredients, first is the natural fragrance which is really appealing though it is still depending on the varieties and second is the natural colour of the flower. Those two factors are perfect mixture of why this flowering plant is becoming one of the main cosmetic ingredients. The toxicity effect of this flower is fewer when it is used externally but the risk becomes higher when it is consumed internally. That is why this flowering plant is quite safe when used as cosmetic ingredients.

  1. The Leaves as Famine Food

In some countries, in the poor regions of India, sweet pea leaves were consumed as famine food especially during drought season when some food sources become limited. The reason why sweet pea leaves were used as famine food is due to its rich protein content which is eligible to fight hunger problem and mal nutrients especially in children. Not only the leaves both the flowers and the seeds are also edible.

Cautions of Sweet Pea Plant

Studies about sweet pea flowering plant are still limited to claims made by the locals. In India, this flowering plant which is rich of protein is used as famine food to treat children who are suffering from hunger, especially during drought season.

  • Some scientific studies have proven that sweet pea is toxic. However, though the seeds are considered toxic but effective famine foods, to remove the toxic, the seeds will be dried under the sun to reduce the level of toxicity.
  • The risk of toxicity effect may increase when consumed by mothers during pregnancy or breastfeeding because it is not only affecting the mother but also the fetus or the baby. Risks like baby born with birth defect, premature birth or miscarriage may occur as the worst effect of consuming sweet pea leaves.
  • Sweet pea leaves may also increase the risk of bleeding especially for those with bleeding history. If you are about to have a surgery and now currently taking supplement form extract sweet pea leaves, you should stop it at least 2 weeks prior to the schedule.
  • The benefits of calcium are essential and those who have been surfing from the calcium deficiency or related condition like osteoporosis should avoid consuming sweet pea leaves due to its ability to cause skeletal deformation. However, this case is very rare and it occurs only when you consume it in high amount.
  • Consuming sweet pea leaves in high dosage could lead to kidney problems because the urinary oxalate is very high that could increase the risk of kidney problem.
  • The direct exposure of the flour of sweet pea leaves may improve the risk or increase the symptoms of asthma.

Unfortunately, the scientific research about sweet pea leaves are still limited because scientists realize  the risks offered from consuming this flowering plant is higher than the health benefits of sweet pea leaves obtained. Though in some countries like India where hunger problem becomes annual issue, sweet pea leaves could be the solution that could save their lives. Though, normally the flowers are used as natural fragrance and commonly used as part of cosmetic ingredients, still it is only for external use. If you are about to add it as part of daily supplement, consulting it with your doctor first is highly recommended.