It takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. It turns out that eating the right kinds of foods, including pigeon pea can help to keep the immune system on guard and maintain good health.
Pigeon peas are among the top 10 legumes grown globally, along with common beans, peas, chickpeas, broad beans and lentils. Its local names in Nigeria includes Fiofio (Igbo), Aduwa (Hausa) and Otili (Yoruba).
The pea, an important grain legume crop in the tropics and subtropics, contain high levels of protein and important amino acids such as methionine, lysine and tryptophan.
This excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium also contains fewer amounts of copper, zinc and magnesium. Aside this, it provides an adequate amount of iron and selenium.
In combination with other cereals, pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food. No wonder, in Africa, the dried seeds are typically used in sauces to accompany staple food preparations such as rice, yam and cassava.
The immature seeds and pods of pigeon pea, been rich sources of mineral nutrients are also eaten fresh as a vegetable in soups and sauces. When ripe, the seeds are often soaked first before frying or boiling them into porridge.
Different parts of pigeon pea plant have also been used in folkloric medicines to treat diarrhoea, gonorrhoea, measles, burns, eye infections, earache, sore throat, sore gums, toothache, anaemia, intestinal worms, dizziness and epilepsy.
In Madagascar, its plant leaves are used to clean the teeth while in Peru, its leaves are used as an infusion for anaemia, hepatitis, diabetes, urinary infections and yellow fever.
In 2013, scientists considered its leaves a possible lead for a anti-malarial drug discovery. In the Journal of Parasitology Research, the scientists indicated that its leaves possess antimalarial properties, corroborating its use for malaria infection in south western Nigeria.
Aside its effectiveness as a worm expeller, it was indicated as having significant anticancer activity by scientists in the 2013 BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. It was a study that examined 24 locally used Nigerian medicinal plants on five different cancer cell lines.
Extracts of its leaves is also protective against gastric ulcer, Indian scientists said in the 2014 International Research Journal of Pharmacy. Ethanolic extract of its leaves were found to be protective against ulcer and improve ulcer-healing activity.