Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan (L.) Huth) is one of the most common tropical and subtropical legumes cultivated for its edible seeds. Pigeon pea is fast growing, hardy, widely adaptable, and drought resistant (Bekele-Tessema, 2007). Because of its drought resistance it can be considered of utmost importance for food security in areas where rainfall is not reliable and droughts are likely to occur (Crop Trust, 2014). At the end of the dry season, pigeon pea provides green forage of outstanding value when other forages are not available (Sloan et al., 2009).
Cajanus cajan (L) Millsp. (Sanskrit: Adhaki, Hindi: Arhar, English: Pigeon pea, Bengali: Tur) (family: Fabaceae) is the most important grain legume crop of rain-fed agriculture in semi-arid tropics. It is both a food crop and a cover/forage crop with high levels of proteins and important amino acids like methionine, lysine and tryptophan. During the last few decades extensive studies have been carried out regarding the chemistry of C. cajan and considerable progress has been achieved regarding its biological activities and medicinal applications. This review article gives an overview on the biological activities of the compounds isolated, pharmacological actions and clinical studies of C. cajan extracts.
C. cajan are used in food poisoning, as colic and in constipation. In Chinese folk medicine pigeon pea leaves are used to staunch blood, as an analgesic and to kill parasites. In some parts of Tamil Nadu, India, the leaf, seeds and young stems are used to cure gingivitis, stomatitis and as a toothbrush.