Medicinal plants

Lupine – Application & Treatment for Health

Lupine

The lupine is a beautiful plant to look at along the road or path, but also in domestic gardens. In addition to the major role it plays in agriculture, it is also becoming increasingly important for health.

Occurrence & Cultivation of Lupine

Lupins , sometimes also called wolf beans or fig beans , belong to the legumes and within this to the subfamily of the legumes. The name is derived from the Latin “lupus” (wolf), probably because of the hairy, wolf-grey pods of the seeds. The lupine is originally mainly native to North America and the Mediterranean area, depending on the species. The best known lupine species are the blue, white and yellow lupine.

As a breeding form, there is also the red one. Lupins prefer light and loamy soil with lots of sun. They are perennial and can reach a height of about 1.50 meters. The leaves are finger-shaped. In June to August, depending on the color of the lupine, butterfly-shaped flowers appear on racemes that are 20 to 60 centimeters long. At the beginning of autumn, seeds form from the flowers in pods four to six centimeters long. The plant has deep roots that can reach a meter or two into the ground. Because it can form nitrogen in the root nodules, it is also often used for soil improvement and fertilization.

Effect & Application

The seeds of wild lupins and garden lupins contain toxic bitter substances, including lupinine and spartenin. Lupinine can cause fatal respiratory paralysis and spartenine circulatory collapse . Historically, however, lupins have always been important for human and animal nutrition and partly in medicine. The Egyptians already cultivated the plant and gave the lupine seeds to the pharaohs as grave goods.

In ancient Greece, physicians used the easy digestibility of the seeds as a treatment. In times of war and hardship, lupine seeds served as an important source of protein. The ability of the lupine as a soil fertilizer is valued in the past and is still valued today because it can bind nitrogen in the soil. In herbal medicine, lupins do not play such a big role because they have a fluctuating content of active ingredients, but they play an even more important role in nutrition.

However, the bitter alkaloids are a hazard to humans and animals. In order to make the seeds edible, they used to be watered to filter out the toxins. In the 1920s, the cultivation of low-toxic lupins was started to alleviate this problem, since the protein in blue lupins in particular has a beneficial effect on lowering high cholesterol and blood lipid levels .

Scientific tests have yet to show how extensive this effect is. Today there are already alkaloid-free varieties, which means that the bitter substances do not have to be extracted. Unlike other legumes, lupins are not poisonous even when raw. Due to their low purine content, they are also suitable as nutrition for rheumatic diseases . Because they are gluten- and lactose-free, they are also tolerated by people with gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance .

In addition, they have a low glycemic index, do not increase blood sugar levels and are therefore also suitable for diabetics . In nutrition, lupins are already used in a variety of ways: for dairy products, tofu, vegan burgers, sausages and other plant-based foods, as flour in baked goods.

Because of their neutral taste, they can be used for all flavors from sweet to savory. From an ecological point of view, too, lupine is a good alternative to soy, which has fallen into disrepute due to increasing genetic engineering and deforestation. Lupins grow even on poor, sandy soil.

Importance for health, treatment & prevention

It has long been known through research that the protein-rich seeds of the lupine are a real alternative to soy. Particularly noteworthy is their high protein content of almost 40 percent protein, which can easily compete with soybeans. It contains all essential amino acids, as well as vitamin A , vitamin B1 and important minerals such as calcium , iron , magnesium and potassium .

However, no evidence of vitamin B12 has yet been provided. Similar to soy, lupins also contain phytoestrogens, but in much lower concentrations. Nevertheless, these are being researched because, according to scientific studies, phytoestrogens play an important role in the prevention of breast cancer , prostate cancer , cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis .

The fiber in the lupine is also health-promoting, accounting for 15 percent of the seeds. They ensure good digestion in the intestines and thus help to prevent colon cancer . Studies also show a reduction in cholesterol levels. In addition to the roughage, the high protein content of the plant also contributes to the cholesterol-lowering effect, as research at the University of Halle has shown.

Lupine seeds contain less fat than soybeans (four to seven percent) and are high in monosaturated and polysaturated fats. Due to the low glycemic index, they can also be used by diabetics. However , the allergy risk is comparable to that of soy. People who are allergic to peanuts react particularly often to lupine components. In France, there has been an increase in intolerance since lupine flour can be mixed with other cereal flours in unlimited amounts. Because of the allergy risk, products containing lupins have been subject to mandatory labeling in the EU since 2007.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.