Horse gram – Dolichos biflorus Linn.is an ayurvedic herb used for the treatment of kidney stones, cough, asthma, piles etc. It is called Kulattha in Ayurveda.
Botanical Name- Dolichos biflorus Linn. Also called Macrotyloma uniflorum.
Names in different languages:
English name – Horsegram, Cowpea
Hindi name – Kulathi
Telugu name – Ulavalu
Kannada name – Huruli
Tamil name – Kollu
Unani – Kulthi
Peetamudga – resemble mung bean but yellow in colour
Tamra Varna – seeds with copper colour
Surashtraka – grows in Saurashtra region – Gujarat
Druk Prasada – good for eyes
Habitat: Horsegram is a shrub grown and cultivated in the plains of Indian states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, for its seed. The whole seeds of horsegram is used as cattle feed. Its whole seed is also consumed, as sprouts or whole meal in some parts of India.
The herb Kulattha is available in two types based upon the cultivating pattern
- Wild variety
- Local grown variety
Dolichos biflorus is classified into 4 types based upon the color of the seeds
Charaka- Swedopaga – Group of herbs used in sweating treatment
Vagbhata- Niruhopaga – Group of herbs used in Niruha Basti
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Krutanna varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu- Suvarnadi varga
Bhava Prakasha- Dhanya varga
Rajanighantu – Parpatadi Varga
Properties, part used
Horsegram medicinal properties:
Rasa (Taste) – Kashaya – astringent
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna – Hot
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu – light to digest, Rooksha – Dry in nature, Teekshna- Pungent
Vipaka- Amla – After digestion it undergoes into sour taste
Prabhava (Special effects) – Ashmari Bhedana- breaks down the renal stones
Effect on Tridosha- As the drug is predominant of Kashaya rasa, it is Kapha vata shamaka (reduces the vitiated Kapha and Vata) and Rakta Pitta kopaka (increases the Rakta and Pitta dosha)
Part used- Seeds which are reddish brown in color.
Major chemical Constituents of Kulthi:
Horsegram seeds contain 21% of crude protein, 11% of pentosan and about 3% of water soluble gum. They also contain traces of urease and phosphorus. The other chemical constituents present in the seeds are Genistein, Dalberioidin, Phasw and Collidin.
Nutritional value, dosage
The mean protein value of the horsegram seeds is 25.5% which is more or less equivalent to soyabean, winged bean. Nutritionally the horsegram seeds are richer in lysine content when compared to gram pulse.
The leaves of the herb Dolichos biflorus may be used in Vitamin C deficiency, due to the presence of ascorbic acid and calcium.
Dosage– Seed powder- 4-6 g
Decoction of the seed- 40-50ml per day in divided doses.
Paste of seed: For external application.
Uses of Dolichos biflorus:
- The paste of Kulatta seeds are used for fomentation to relieve localized swelling. The seeds stimulate and increases sweating, thus opening the sweat pores of the body to push out the toxins from the body.
- The seed of the herb is powdered, burnt and the smoke coming from it is inhaled to relieve hiccups.
- Cold infusion (Hima) of the seeds of horsegram is taken in a dosage of 80-100ml per day to treat renal calculi, difficulty in micturition and pain in the urinary bladder.
- The powder of the seeds in a dosage of 10-12g per day is used to treat renal calculi.
- Seeds of Dolichos biflorus is given in the form of decoction to relieve intestinal worms, treat piles and relieve constipation.
- It induces menstrual periods. Hence people with prolonged menstrual cycle, scanty bleeding (oligomenorrhoea), are advised to use horse gram in their diet regularly.
Sweda Sangrahaka – it causes sweating
Sara – laxative, promotes movement of liquids in channels
Vidahi – causes burning sensation
Vatanulomi – Causes normal movement of Vata in its proper direction
Shwasa – asthma, respiratory disorders involving difficulty in breathing
Kasa – cold, cough
Diseases of Kapha and Vata Dosha imbalance
Hikka – hiccough
Ashmari – calculi
Daha – Burning sensation
Anaha – bloating
Peenasa – rhinitis
Meda – obesity
Jwara – fever
Krumi – worm infestation (in wounds and in intestines)
Shwasa – asthma, respiratory disorders involving difficulty in breathing
Arsha – Hemorrhoids
Shotha – oedema, swelling, inflammatory conditions.
Udara – Ascites
Tuni, Pratituni – lower abdominal pain
Akshiroga – eye disorders
Horse gram is boiled with water, its steam is used for local sweating treatment, called Nadi Sweda, in Vata imbalance disorders (Charaka Vatavyadi Chikitsa)
Use of horse gram in treating piles:
If the patient is suffering from non bleeding piles with constipation, then he is encouraged to include horse gram in his diet.
But if it is bleeding piles, then it is best to avoid horse gram.
Precautions, side effects
People suffering from hyperacidity, gastric ulcers should not take this herb or any formulation containing this herb as it will worsen the disease condition.
Acharya Charaka in Ayurveda has said that Kulattha is the herb which can cause amlapitta (Hyperacidity)
It is described as Raktapittakrut – It worsens bleeding disorders. Hence, not ideal in people having nasal bleeding, menorrhagia (heavy periods) etc
Shukrahara – it can decrease semen and sperm quality and quantity. Hence, people seeking male infertility treatment should avoid or reduce the intake of horsegram.
In case of gout, because Rakta dhatu is involved, horse gram is best avoided.
When you are taking Shilajit, Horse gram should be avoided, as it increases Pitta Dosha.
In people taking Tapyadi Yoga, a medicine for the treatment of anemia, taking horsegram is contraindicated. (Charaka Pandu Chikitsa)
Horse gram recipes
Healthy horse gram recipes:
Take 4 teaspoon horse gram, add half litre of water, heat this mixture up to it reduces to one fifth, collect soup, add 2 teaspoon crushed pomegranate seeds, mix, filter and take once a day. This is especially useful in kidney and bladder stones.
Vegetable soup of ber fruit, horsegram, coriander, bael, or barley – are indicated in the treatment of vomitting with gastritis. (Charaka Chikitsa 20th chapter)
Interaction with medicines, supplements
Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.
this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets,
Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.
Formulation containing Kulattha:
- Dhanvantaram Ghritam– useful in treating abscess, hemorrhoids, anemia
- Kolakulathadi Choornam– useful in treating inflammation of joints, lumbago
- Sukhaprasava Ghritam– for easy delivery
- Sarvamayantaka Ghritam– useful in treating gout, Parkinson’s disease, neck stiffness,
Research articles on Dolichos biflorus:
- Seeds of the herb kulattha is shown to have anti histaminic action in the management of asthama
- The seeds are antioxidant and antiradical in nature.
- Anti obesity property is seen in the seeds of Dolichos biflorus.
- The seeds are known to have anti urolithiatic property.
Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: [email protected]