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Ayurvedic Herbs

Sword Bean – Medicinal Qualities, Toxicity, Research

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Sword beans are nutritious edible bean. It is used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Its young pods are used as vegetable. Seeds are used to make soups and stews. In folklore practice, its seeds, pods, stems and roots are used to treat dysentery, nausea, hemorrhoids, sinusitis, back pain, obesity, diarrhea and hiccups. Research studies have also reported the skin whitening property of sword beans.
Read – Flat Beans Benefits, Research, Remedies, Side Effects

As a natural antimicrobial agent, sword bean is used to prevent food poisoning caused by Vibrio vulnificus.

Sword beans are the good source of urease which has a wide range of applications in medical science, food industry and technical fields. In clinical diagnosis, urease is used for the determination of urea in blood and urine.
Read – Green Pea (Matar) Medicinal Qualities, Uses, Research

Botanical Name – Canavalia gladiata
Synonyms – Dolichos gladiatus
Family – Fabaceae 


Vernacular Name

English Name – Sword bean, Scimitar bean, Jamaican horse bean
Hindi Name – Badasem, Khadsampal
Marathi Name – Abay, Abai, Chopdi
Bengali Name – Makhan Sem
Tamil Name – Segapputampattai
Malayalam Name – Valpayar, Valaringha
Telugu Name – Tamma
Kannada Name – Tumbekonti, Sembi
French Name – dolic en sabre
German Name – Schwertbohne
Spanish Name – haba de burro, poroto sable (A)
Read – Pigeon Pea (Tur Dal) – Uses, Qualities, Remedies, Research

Medicinal Qualities

Virya (potency) – hot
Shukra – increases sperm count
Guru – heavy to digest
Agnisada – reduces digestive strength
Vrishya – aphrodisiac
Ruchikrth – improves taste
Baddavid – causes constipation
Effect on Tridoshas
Balances Vata dosha
Increases Kapha and Pitta dosha
Read – Moth Bean – Uses, Medicinal Qualities, Research

Sanskrit Verses

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can 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.

With western medicines
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.


Sword beans eaten in large quantities can cause mild toxicity. To remove the poisonous substance, it is advised to drain off the water boiled with beans. (read more)

Morphology, Distribution

Sword bean is a twinning herb grows up to 10 meter long. Leaves are alternate, large, trifoliate and glabrous. Flowers are white and pink in color. Pods are 30 – 40 cm long, straight, rough surfaced, slightly compressed with 10 – 16 seeds. Seeds are oblong-ellipsoid in shape, color varies from red, red-brown to white or black. (read)

Sword beans are widely cultivated in Southeast Asia and other tropical regions.

Chemical Components

Sword bean contains components such as urease, canavanine, hemaglutinine and C. gibberellin I and II.

Pharmacological Activities

Sword beans possess anti allergic,anti inflammatory, anti cancer, antioxidant and skin whitening properties. They are also effective against gastritis.
Read – Green Gram (Mung bean) Qualities, Uses, Remedies, Research

Nutritional Values

Fresh sword bean per 100 g edible portion contains water 83.6 g, energy 247 kJ, protein 4.6 g, fat 0.4 g, carbohydrate 10.7 g, fiber 2.6 g, Ca 33 mg, P 66 mg, Fe 1.2 mg, vitamin A 40 IU, thiamin 0.2 mg, riboflavin 0.1 mg, niacin 2 mg, ascorbic acid 32 mg.
Dry seeds contain per 100 g – water 10.7 g, energy 1453 kJ, protein 24.5 g, fat 2.6 g, carbohydrate 59 g, fiber 7.4 g, Ca 158 mg, P 298 mg, Fe 7.0 mg, thiamin 0.8 mg, riboflavin 1.8 mg, ascorbic acid 1 mg (Rubatzky, V.E. & Yamaguchi, M., 1997). 
(Read more)


Antioxidant, Skin whitening, Antibacterial Activity – A research study conducted to evaluate the anti oxidant, skin whitening and anti bacterial activities of Canavalia gladiata extracts have concluded that Canavalia gladiata is a potential source of anti aging, skin whitening and anti bacterial properties.
Reference: Med Biol Sci Eng 2018;1(1):11-17 Published online January 31, 2018
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Sanskrit Synonyms

Kolashimbi, Krishnaphala, Paryankapattika


Classical Categorization
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Shaka varga

Scientific Classification
Kingdom – Plantae
Division – Spermatophyta
Sub-division – Angiospermae
Class – Diocotyledonae
Sub-Class – Polypetalae
Series – Calyciflorae
Order – Rosales
Family – Leguminosae
Sub-family – Papilionaceae
Genus – Canavalia
Species – gladiate
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