If you stare long enough and let your mind stray, you might appreciate how both scientific and common names derived from the flower's similarity to the female external genitalia: clitorea from clitoris and pukingan, tagalog variant for vagina. (Also see: Butterfly pea, Centrosema pubescens)
Pukiñgan is a twining herb or climbing vine with cylindrical and slender
stems, sometimes up to 1 centimeter in diameter.
Leaflets are 5 to 7, elliptic to oblong, 3 to 7 centimeters
in length. Stipels are small, and acicular. Flower is solitary. Calyx is green, about 1.5 centimeters long. Corolla is 3.5 to 4 centimeters long,
with the standard deep blue with a white, yellowish, or pale-blue center. Pods are 5 to 10 centimeters long, flat, with 6 to 10 seeds.
- Throughout the Philippines, in thickets in settled areas at low
and medium altitudes.
Cultivated for its conspicuous blue flowers.
- Introduced; now pantropic.
• Studies have isolated triterpenoids, flavonol glycosides, anthocyanins and steroids.
• Root-bark contains starch, tannin and resins.
• The seeds contain a fixed oil, bitter acid resin (the active principle), tannic acid, glucose, and 6%
ash. Testa of the seed is brittle and contains a cotyledon which is full of granular starch.
• The seed is reported to contain a toxic alkaloid.
• Phytochemical screening has yielded tannins, resins, taraxerol and ternatins.
• Screening of petals of CT yielded three flavonol glycosides - kaempferol 3-O-(2″-O-α-rhamnosyl-6″-O-malonyl)-β-glucoside, quercetin 3-O-(2″-O-α-rhamnosyl-6″-O-malonyl)-β-glucoside, and myricetin 3-O-(2″,6″-di-O-α-rhamnosyl)-β-glucoside - together with 11 known flavonol glycosides.
* Leaves of blue and white varieties of Clitoria ternatea showed significant amount of crude protein, crude fiber, ash, carbohydrates and minerals such as potassium and iron.
• Phytochemical screening of ethanolic extract of leaves yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, free amino acids, glycosides, phenols, proteins, reducing sugars, steroids, and tannins. Quantitative analysis yielded flavonoids 20.48±0.96 mgRE/g extract, tannins 78.75 ±2.09 mgTAE/g extract, total phenols 245.14 ±6.97 mgTAE/g extract, vitamin C 118.83 ±0.47 mgAAE/g extract, total carbohydrate 176.03 ±1.19 mg/g extract, and total protein 3110 ±18.02 mg/g extract. (47)
• Study of the bromatological and mineral composition of both varieties of C. ternatea (blue and white) leaves yielded significant amount of crude protein, crude fiber, ash, carbohydrates and minerals such as potassium and iron. (48)
• Roots considered laxative, diuretic, antiinflammatory and anthelmintic.
• Studies have shown pharmacologic activities: antimicrobial,
antipyretic, antiinflammatory, analgesic, diuretic, anesthetic, antidiabetic,
insecticidal, vascular smooth-muscle relaxing and platelet-aggregation
• The roots taken as purgative, have been reported to be toxic and narcotic,
causing irritability, loss of memory or unconsciousness.
• The roots and seeds are considered emetic, diuretic and emmenagogue.
• Roots considered vomitive and laxative. An alcoholic extract is used as a cathartic.
Roots, leaves, flowers, seeds.
Edibility / Culinary
• In Southeast Asia, flower pigment is used for food coloring.
• In the Philippines poultices of leaves used for swollen joints.
• Infusion of leaves is used for eruptions.
• Warm leaf juice mixed with common salt is applied around the
ears for earache.
• Leaves are used as poultices for swollen joints.
• Seeds are mildly laxative and purgative; also, antihelminthic.
• In India,
the white flowered specie is considered superior to the blue variety.
• The roots of the blue flowered variety is used for piles. For
earaches, the juice of the blue variety is used.
• The roots, in soup, used to remove phlegm in chronic bronchitis and to induce nausea and vomiting when necessary. (Note toxicity above.)
• Root-bark infusion used as demulcent for bladder and urethral irritation. Alcoholic extract has been used as a cathartic.
• For hiccups, the seeds are burned for fume inhalation; same also
used for asthma.
• Also used for throat, eye infections, skin diseases.
• To hasten delivery twinning branches of the white flowered variety
are wrapped around the waist.
• Root ash is used for facial care.
• Root powder is used for jaundice.
• Roots used to treat mental disorders and to relieve stress.
• For renal stones, the roots used with boiled rice.
• Roots and seeds used as diuretic and emmenagogue; also to induce vomiting.
• Juice of leaves mixed with green ginger used in cases of colliquative sweating in hectic fever.
• Juice of leaves mixed with common salt is applied warm around the ear for earaches, especially when accompanied by swelling of the surrounding glands.
• Root juice, applied in the nose for migraine.
• For painful boils, mix the root juice with vinegar and apply
to the boils.
• A traditional Ayurveda
medicine as a brain tonic, memory and intelligence enhancer, antidepressant,
anti-stress,anxiolytic, sedative and anticonvulsant.
• In South Travancore, India,
leaf juice taken twice daily for 6 days for scabies. source
• In West Bengal,
root juice used for fevers.
• Acetylcholine / Memory: Root extract of CT significantly increased the ACh content
in rat hippocampi. ACh
content in the hippocampus may be the neurochemical basis for improved memory and
• Anthelmintic: Study showed
the alcoholic extracts of CT with significant anthelmintic activity. (5) A methanolic extract showed dose dependent anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma, with piperazine citrate as positive control. (34)
• Antipyretic: The methanol
extract of CT showed dose-dependent antipyretic effect comparable to that of paracetamol. (6)
• CNS Effects: The methanol
extract study on the CNS showed it to possesses nootropic, anxiolytic,
antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. (7)
• Cytotoxic Activity: Methanol crude extract of leaves and 3 fractions (n-hexane, di-chlormethane, methanol) demonstrated promising cytotoxic activity. (8)
• Antifungal: Leaf extract exhibited considerable antifungal activity against filamentous fungi in a dose-dependent manner. (9)
• Larvicidal: Screening of natural products for mosquito larvicidal activity against Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus and Anopheles stephensi was done with three potential plant extracts. Of the three, C ternatea showed the most promising mosquito larvicidal activity. Phytochemical analysis of the seed extract showed carbohydrates, saponins, terpenoids, tannins and proteins. (10)
• Hypoglycemic: Study suggests that Clitorea ternatea leaf and flower extracts exhibit antihyperglycemic effect in rats with alloxan-induced diabetes. (11)
• Antihyperglycemic / Antihyperlipidemic:Study suggests the C ternatea leaves and flower extracts showed antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic effects and may alleviate liver and renal damage associated with alloxan-induced diabetes in rats. (12)
• Antihistaminic Activity: Clonidine, an a-2 adrenoreceptor agonist induces dose-dependent catalepsy in mice and releases histamine from mast cells responsible for asthmatic conditions. Study results suggest antihistaminic activity of C. ternatea ethanol extract of root as shown by significant inhibition of clonidine-induced catalepsy in mice. (14)
• Wound Healing: Study showed seed and root extracts significantly improved wound healing in excision, incision and dead-space models, both orally by gavage and as ointment. The activity in animal models was attributed to flavonol glycoside and phenolic compounds through alterations in the inflammatory and immune components of wound healing. (15)
• Cytotoxicity: Study evaluating the the petroleum ether and ethanolic extracts of CT in short term in vitro cytotoxicity using Dalton's Lymphoma ascites cells showed both the extract poses significant cell cytotoxic activity. Phytochemical screening of PEE yielded steroids, triterpenoids, tannins, and saponins, while the EE yielded flavanoids. (16)
• Antiasthmatic: Study of ethanol extract of C. ternatea roots showed antiasthmatic activity which may be due to the presence of flavonoids or saponins.
• Antidiabetic Effect: Chronic administration of plant extracts for 14 days reduced the blood glucose levels of the diabetes-induced animals compared to the diabetic control group. The antidiabetic effect was comparable to the standard antidiabetic drug Glibenclamide. (18)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic / Flowers: Study of a petroleum ether flower extract of C. ternatea exhibited significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. On acute toxicity study, it was safe even at doses of 2000 mg/KBW. Phytochemical screening yielded taraxerol, a pentacyclic triterpenoid, which may be responsible for the pharmacologic activity. (22)
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antioxidant effects of leaf extracts Clitorea ternatea and Alternanthra sessilis in treated yeast cells DNA. The leaf extracts effectively decreased the extent of DNA damage. DPPH scavenging activity was highly elicited by the methanol extracts of Clitorea ternatea. (23)
• Juvenile Diabetes / Hippocampal Area Ca 3 Effect: Encepalopathy is a major complication in juvenile diabetes mellitus that can cripple physiomorphological growth and development in childhood. Study of an alcoholic root extract of C. ternatea showed significant gross impact in preventing possible complications to brain hippocampal area CA3 and pancreatic tissue in juvenile diabetic rat models. (24)
• Hypoglycemic Effects / Leaves: Study of a methanol extract of leaves showed significant reduction of blood glucose in alloxan-induced diabetic rats twelve hours after administration. (25)
• Nootropic Effects / Leaves: A methanolic extract of leaves showed promising nootropic effect in scopolamine induced amnesia in rats. (26)
• Antibacterial / Leaves: Various extracts of leaves were tested against Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus vulgaris and Salmonella typhi. A methanol extract showed the most potent inhibitory effect. (27)
• Antiasthmatic / Roots: Study evaluated the bronchodilator activity of an alcoholic extract of roots on histamine-induced bronchospasm in wistar rats. Results showed a bronchospasmolytic activity, with 47.45% protection against histamine-induced bronchoconstriction. (28)
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol Induced Damage / Leaves: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of C. ternatea leaf extract against liver injury induced by paracetamol in mice. Treated mice showed significant decrease in ALT, AST, and bilirubin, together with protection against histopathological alterations. Hepatoprotection was attributed to potent antioxidative activity. (29)
• Synergistic Antidiabetic Effect / Clitorea ternatea and Tricosanthes dioica: Study evaluated the antidiabetic effect of combined leaf extracts of T. dioica and C. ternatea on STZ induced diabetic Wistar rats. The extent of reversal of hyperglycemia in the combined extract treated animals compared well with the glibenclamide treated group. (30)
• Neuroprotective and Nootropic Activity / Diabetic Induced Cognitive Decline / Leaves: An ethanol extract showed nootropic and neuroprotective activity in diabetes-induced cognitive decline rat model. (31)
• Phenolic Compounds / Radical Scavenging Activity: Study evaluated the total phenolic compounds and DPPH scavenging activity in flowers and leaves of Clitoria ternatea and Vitex negundo. Results showed antioxidant activity in both leaves and flowers of CT and VN and suggest a potential alternative source of natural antioxidants. (32)
• Anti-Compulsive Effect: Plants used to treat anxiety and depression suggest a potential therapeutic strategy for treatment of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). To evaluated this possibility, study evaluated an ethanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea on marble-burying behavior in mice. Study showed reduction of marble burying behavior, comparable to that of fluoxetine. Results showed EECT can modulate obsessive compulsive behavior and also potentiate the effect of fluoxetine, with a potential as an herbal treatment for OCD. (33)
• Anti-Ulcer / Leaves: Various extracts of leaves were evaluated for gastroprotective activity on pylorus ligation induced ulcer and ethanol induced ulcer models. Results showed a protective effect on the ulcer induced models when compared to standard drug Omeprazole. Activity could be due to an antisecretory mechanism attributed to cytroprotective and free radical scavenging antioxidant activities. (36)
• Antidepressant / Motor Coordination and Locomotor Effects / Roots: Study of ethanolic root extract showed significant antidepressant activity, mild reduction in locomotor and motor coordination activity. Results suggest a potential resource for natural psychotherapeutic agent against depression and mood disorders. (37)
• Neurogenic Potential / Roots: Study of Clitoria ternatea root extract showed growth promoting neurogenic effect on aSVZ (anterior subventricular zone) NSC (neural stem cells and their survival similar to neurotrophic factors like Survivin, Neuregulin 1, FGF-2, BDNF possible the basis for enhanced learning and memory. (38)
• Antipyretic / Purgative / Leaves: Study using albino rats showed significant antipyretic and purgative activities of ethanol and acetone extracts of leaves. The antipyretic activity was higher than than standard drug paracetamol; the purgative activity was higher than standard sodium picosulphate. (40)
• Immunomodulatory / Seed and Roots: Study investigated the immunomodulatory activity of C. ternatea seed and root extracts. Results showed significant immunosuppressive effects which may be attributed to decreased immune cell sensitization, immune cell presentation and phagocytosis. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant could be playing a major role in the immunomodulatory activity. (41)
• Chemosensitizing Cyclotides: Cyclotides have been shown to have antitumor effects and cause cell death by membrane permeabilization. Study showed cytotoxicity and chemosensitizing activities of certain cyclotides from C. ternatea against paclitaxel-resistant lung cancer cell, and suggests a potential in chemosensitization application. (42)
• Inhibitory Effects on Protein Glycation: Accumulation of advanced glycation end products in body tissues lead to degenerations, atheroslcerosis and diabetic complications. Results showed CT extract significantly and dose-dependently inhibited formation of AGEs, markedly reduced fructosamine and amyloid cross ß-structure formation. Results suggest a potential for a new natural product for prevention of AGE-mediated diabetic complications. (43)
• Corrosion Inhibitor / Flower: Study evaluated the corrosion inhibitive action of flower extracts of Clitoria ternatea on mild steel corrosion. Results showed extracts functioned as good inhibitors in 0.5 M H2SO4 solution, with inhibition increasing with extract concentration. (44)
• Amelioration of STZ Induced Cognitive Impairment: A hydroalcoholic extract prevented STZ-induced cognitive impairment dose dependently by reducing oxidative stress, cholinesterase activity, and ROCK II expression. (45)