Cicer / Kikkererwten

De geschiedenis van de keker, Cicer arietinum L., is beschreven vanaf  Homerus en de vroegste vondsten, 5450 j.v.Chr. in Hacilar, Turkije. Het 
gewas werd vermoedelijk het eerst door de mens in gebruik genomen in KleinAzie. In India werd de keker geintroduceerd uit de oorsprongsgebieden KleinAzie of Centraal Azie. Sommige vormen vonden er zelfs tamelijk recent (1700)  hun domicilie. Ethiopie is een secundair genencentrum. Uitwisseling van genenmateriaal met Egypte en Azie blijft speculatief. De mening van DE CANDOLLE  (1882) dat de Egyptenaren en de Joden de keker niet gekend hebben voor onze  jaartelling, kan met voldoende aanwijzingen worden weerlegd.  De medische toepassing is in onbruik geraakt, maar biedt interessante historische aspecten. 
 
De keker is een belangrijke peulvrucht, in productie alleen overtrofTen door  bonen en erwten. Qua areaal neemt het gewas in produktie de 15e plaats in  de wereld in. De opbrengsten zijn gemiddeld slechts 700 kg per ha, maar kunnen oplopen tot 1670 kg in Egypte en 1220 kg in Turkije. Ongeveer 83 % van het  gewas wordt op het Indische subcontinent verbouwd. 
Het weer is de belangrijkste oorzaak van fluctuaties in de bebouwde oppervlakte. De gedeeltelijke teruggang van het areaal in India wordt veroorzaakt 
door de zich uitbreidende nieuwe graanrassen. Dit zal worden gecompenseerd  door stijgende opbrengsten per ha en hogere prijzen van keker. 

De teelt van de keker wordt meestal nog op traditionele wijze bedreven.  De droogteresistentie (diepgaand wortelstelsel) en de mogelijkheid het 
gewas op een arme grond te telen hebben de verzorging van het gewas niet  verhoogd. Met goede grondbewerking, zaaien op uniforme afstand in rijen, onkruidbestrijding en enige bemesting kan het goede opbrengsten geven. De  zaaidatum is van groot belang. Zaaien vroeg in het seizoen is het beste, maar  niet wanneer verwelkingsziekten in het geding zijn. 

De keker wordt in India vaak in mengteelt verbouwd met tarwe en Indiase  mosterd, om grotere oogstzekerheid voor de boeren te verkrijgen. De grond  wordt beter benut doordat verschillende lagen worden beworteld. In de vruchtopvolging is keker een gewaardeerd gewas. Het hield eeuwenlang de bodemvruchtbaarheid in India nog op een zeker peil, al is dat laag. De boer bevroedt  dit ook vaak. 
De planten worden meestal met de hand opgetrokken bij de oogst. Dorsmachines moeten zorgvuldig worden afgesteld om het breken van zaden, bij 
traditionele dorsmethoden gering, te beperken. De wijze van bewaring is belangrijk, omdat vooral hier belangrijke verliezen kunnen optreden. 
Ecologische proeven werden gericht op de invloed van het licht, de daglengte, temperatuur en relatieve Iuchtvochtigheid. De fotosynthesesnelheid 
varieerde van 250-400 u,g  C 0 2 opname per cm en per uur bij ongeveer 26°C,  maar bij 18°C was dat niet veel minder. Deze waarden zijn vergelijkbaar met die van tarwe. Bladeren van omstreeks twee weken hebben de hoogste fotosynthese-snelheid, en kunnen tot ongeveer twee maal zoveel koolzuur opnemen als bladeren van vier weken oud. De berekende potentiele produktie bedraagt 12 tot 14 ton droge stof per ha, wat ongeveer 5-7 ton zaden zou kunnen betekenen. Dit ligt niet veel boven de hoogste zaadopbrengst, ooit verkregen op een  klein oppervlak in Iran. 

De keker is een kwantitatieve langedag-plant. Bij een daglengte van 16 uur  kon de bloei met bijv. 20-35 dagen worden versneld, ten opzichte van planten bij een daglengte van 9 uur. De drogestof-opbrengst werd in LD verhoogd  voor alle onderzochte cultivars. De invloed van de daglengte corresponderende  met verschillende zaaidata op een breedtegraad van 30° is klein. Toenemende  daglengten lijken beter dan afnemende. 
De optimale temperatuur voor de eerste vegetatieve groei varieert van 21-29°C  (nacht- en dagtemperatuur) tot 24-32°C voor verschillende cultivars. Over de  gehele groeiperiode gerekend is de optimale temperatuur wat lager, 18-26°C  tot 21-29°C, hetgeen ook optimaal is voor de bloei. 
 De relatieve Iuchtvochtigheid als zodanig had weinig invloed op de vruchtzetting. De oorzaak van slechte vruchtzetting werd hieraan vaak toegeschreven, maar een afname in Iichtintensiteit had een grote invloed op bloei en vruchtzetting. Een afname van de Iichtintensiteit met 25 % van de in de kas beschikbare hoeveelheid in de maanden mei en juni over de bloeiperiode deed het aantal peulen met 25-50% dalen. 
Het toppen van de Stengels van keker is een oud gebruik in India om vertakking te bevorderen. Hergroei neemt echter veel tijd en is slechts voldoende als het in een vroeg stadium onder goede groei-omstandigheden wordt uitgevoerd. 

De keker is hoofdzakelijk van belang voor de menselijke voeding. De  zaden worden rauw, en vers gekookt gegeten, maar meestal gekookt of 
geroosterd nadat het gewas is afgerijpt en de zaden zijn gedroogd. Gebruikt in  vele gerechten vormt keker een belangrijk aandeel in de eiwitvoorziening van  miljoenen mensen, vooral in India. Als onderdeel van sommige uitgebalanceerde  voedingspreparaten kan het bijdragen tot de verbetering van de eiwitvoeding van kinderen. 
De samenstelling van het zaad (bijv. tot bijna 30% eiwit), alleen voor methionine en tryptophaan kunnen de zaden  van keker een tekort vertonen. 

http://edepot.wur.nl/195431
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cicer+arietinum



WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CICER ARIETINUM?

Cicer arietinum, otherwise known as chickpeas, are a type of edible legume. As a food source, chickpeas are a cheap source of protein used as a staple in many different countries around the world. In addition, vegetarians commonly use chickpeas as a meat-free source of dietary protein. Chickpeas contain many vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber required as part of an overall healthy diet.

COLON HEALTH
Chickpeas are a good source of dietary fiber. One cup of chickpeas contains 12.5 g of fiber. This represents approximately 50 percent of your daily recommended value of fiber. Approximately 66 percent of this fiber is insoluble fiber, meaning fiber that passes through your digestive tract unchanged until it gets to your colon. Your colon then breaks down the insoluble fiber into short chain fatty acids used as energy by the colon cells. Having a healthy colon can help to prevent many digestive disorders, including colon cancer.
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BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL
When foods break down too quickly in your body, your blood sugar levels can rise quickly. Proteins and fiber can stabilize and slow how sugar passes through your digestive tract. As dietary fiber, chickpeas improve your digestive function and help to reduce your blood sugar levels. According to "Advances in Chickpea Science," consuming as little as one half cup of chickpeas daily can lower your blood sugar levels in as little as one week.

LIPID IMPROVEMENT
Consuming chickpeas can also decrease fat levels in your body. Specifically, the consumption of chickpeas can help lower your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. The soluble fiber content of chickpeas also supports heart health. Chickpeas also contain valuable amounts of fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid, the body's omega-3 fatty acid. One cup of chickpeas contains approximately 70 mg to 80 mg of alpha-linolenic acid.

ANTIOXIDANTS
The damage caused by oxidative stress and reactive oxygen molecules has a long and systemic effect on all of the systems in your body. Chickpeas contain several antioxidant vitamins and properties that help to keep your body clean from free radicals. Chickpeas contain vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and several kinds of phytonutrients. The variety of chickpea will determine the specific nutrients found in the chickpea. The phytonutrients present on the skin of the chickpea include the flavonoids, quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin. The interior portion of the chickpea contains the phenolic acids chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid and vanillic acid.

REFERENCES
"Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal"; Phyllis Balch; 2003
"Advances in Chickpea Science"; Ratikanta Maiti; 2000
"Studies on Biology, Ecology and Management of Wild Onion in Chickpea"; Muhammad Ishfaq Khan; 2009



Chickpea (Cicer arietinum, Fabaceae)

History and Traditional Use
Range and Habitat
Chickpea is an annual crop with a small, bushy form. Its branched stems contain as many as 17 pairs of leaflets.1 Chickpea flowers are white to violet in color, appearing in spring to early summer.2 The edible chickpeas themselves are formed inside hairy, oblong pods which grow up to 1 ½” (38 mm) long, containing one to two seeds per pod.1 The genus name Cicer originates from the Hebrew kirkes, which means round, while the species name arietinum means “ram-like,” alluding to the resemblance of chickpeas to the rounded, curled head of a ram.3 The chickpea has many other names depending on the geographic region, such as garbanzo (Spanish), pois chiche (French), kichar or chicher (German), chana (Hindi), and gram or Bengal gram (English). In terms of its culinary qualities, chickpea has a nutlike taste with a texture that is both buttery and pasty.
There are two types of cultivated chickpeas, with distinctions based on size and color.3 Macrosperma or kabuli chickpea seeds are often large and cream-colored, while microsperma or desi are much smaller with a yellow-brown color.2,3 The kabuli chickpea is grown in temperate regions from Afghanistan through western Asia, as well as North Africa, southern Europe, and America.4 Desi chickpeas are grown predominately in the semi-arid tropics of southern India, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran. Currently, the chickpea is grown in more than 50 countries, including Australia.5

Phytochemicals and Constituents
The chickpea is an excellent source of both macro- and micro-nutrients. It is high in protein and contains carbohydrates, fat, and both soluble and insoluble fibers. In addition, chickpeas contain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), calcium, folic acid, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, molybdenum, chromium, and also selenium, a hard-to-acquire dietary trace mineral.5,6 Approximately 100g of chickpeas meets the recommended daily value of iron and zinc in a 2,000-calorie diet, and 200g meets daily magnesium requirements.5

Carbohydrate content in the chickpea is higher than that of other pulses.5 (“Pulses,” sometimes called “grain legumes,” are legumes that are harvested for a dried seed, such as kidney beans [Phaseolus vulgaris], garden peas [Pisum sativum var. sativum, Fabaceae], and lentils [Lens culinaris, Fabaceae].) Various types of sugars and carbohydrates — monosaccharides, disaccharides, and oligosaccharides — are all found in the chickpea, although the amount will vary depending on the genotype (desi or kabuli). Carbohydrates serve as a source of energy for the human body. Complex carbohydrates, such as oligosaccharides, benefit the microflora (i.e., the probiotic or beneficial bacteria) in the intestine.
Dietary fiber is important for intestinal health, and consumption of fiber has been associated with lower blood cholesterol levels and improved bowel health. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are found in the chickpea, providing a substrate for healthy intestinal bacteria and promoting bowel regularity. The chickpea contains a total of 18-22g/100g of dietary fiber, which is much higher than other pulses.5
The protein content found in the chickpea differs depending on whether or not the hull, or seed coat, is intact.5 Compared to other pulses, such as lentil, green pea, and kidney bean, chickpea has a higher amount of bioavailable protein. Chickpea also contains a variety of amino acids, including lysine, tyrosine, glutamic acid, and histidine. To complement the incomplete protein of chickpea, it is typically consumed with cereal grains.
Fat content in the chickpea is higher than that of other pulses and cereals. Chickpea is a good source of nutritionally-important polyunsaturated fat, and also contains monounsaturated fat and saturated fat.5 Additionally, chickpea is higher in linoleic acid and oleic acid than other pulses. Both polyunsaturated fat and linoleic acid have been known to positively affect serum lipid levels (e.g., cholesterol) and insulin sensitivity and therefore are capable of lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).7

The alpha-tocopherol content in chickpea is also higher than other pulses, which contributes to its antioxidant properties.5 Alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that the body absorbs easily, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and plays a role in lowering cholesterol.8
Several bioactive compounds have been identified in chickpea, contributing to its growing reputation as a “functional food.” These compounds include antioxidant phenolic compounds such as isoflavones; protective carotenoids including beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin; cholesterol-lowering phytosterols; and immune-enhancing and cholesterol-lowering saponins. These compounds are capable of providing health benefits beyond basic macro- and micro- nutrients.

Isoflavones have been shown to be capable of inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation and maintaining the physical properties of smooth muscle cells.5 Saponins have been shown to be capable of binding to dietary cholesterol and therefore reducing overall plasma cholesterol. Lycopene has been associated with a protective role against prostate cancer. Saponins have also been shown to have anti-cancer properties in rats by inhibiting the formation of pre-cancerous lesions.9
The Fabaceae family contains several species which have been associated with allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. The proteins found in these plants in high amounts, albumins, globulins, and prolamines, can trigger allergic reactions.9 Heating and cooking do not de-activate these proteins. Although the allergy to chickpea is less common than that of peanut or soybean, the symptoms can be severe. Symptoms range from hives to severe respiratory distress.
A common attribute of pulses like chickpea is the presence of anti-nutrient factors (ANFs), which limit their biological value and use as a food. ANFs interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients. Chickpeas contain two kinds of protease inhibitors, and the phytic acid content of chickpea binds iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, making them unavailable for absorption in the small intestine.5 However, there are ways of accessing important nutrients from chickpea and other pulses. These ANFs can be reduced or eliminated by soaking, leaching, boiling, or cooking, as traditional practices have demonstrated.

Historical and Commercial Uses
Chickpea is believed to have originated 7,500 years ago from its wild plant ancestor and was domesticated in southeastern Turkey, within the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East.1 Chickpeas then migrated to the Mediterranean region about 4,000 BCE and reached India by 2,000 BCE, where they became a staple food crop. Cicero, the famous Roman philosopher from the first century BCE, gained his family name from “cicer,” the Latin name for chickpea, due to a cleft-like formation on an ancestor’s nose.10

Historically, the leaves, stems, and pods of the chickpea plant were grown for malic and oxalic acids, which were harvested by spreading a thin length of muslin over the crop during the night.11 The cloth was pressed out in the morning to collect the acids. These collected acids were used for various medicinal purposes: as an aphrodisiac, for bronchitis, mucus buildup, cholera, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence, snakebite, sunstroke, and warts. Further, the chickpea has been used to expel parasitic worms from the body, as well as to treat blood disorders, and liver- or gall bladder-related issues, such as biliousness.5 A traditional preparation of a cooked chickpea-milk mixture still is used in Chile to control diarrhea in infants.4 For over 2,500 years, Uygur people in western China have used the chickpea as a treatment for hypertension and diabetes.5

Worldwide, the chickpea is prepared in a variety of ways to create culinary dishes that vary by region and culture. In India, the chickpea is ground to make flour known as besan, which forms the base of many dishes.5 In Asia and Africa, the chickpea traditionally is used whole in stews, soups, and salads, prepared by roasting, boiling, salting, or fermenting. In the Middle East and India, chickpeas are used in dishes such as hummus, falafel, and curries. Chickpeas most commonly appear canned or dried, since fresh chickpeas have a higher moisture content and spoil quickly.12
Americans may be most familiar with chickpeas as the main ingredient in hummus. The dish, which is an ancient recipe from the Mediterranean region, is composed of chickpeas, lemon, tahini, garlic, and olive oil, and is growing in popularity outside of its cultural sphere of influence in the near-Eastern countries of Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. In 2010, an IRI market study reported that American consumption of pre-packaged hummus had increased 35% over 21 months and, by 2013, it had increased 25% more for an estimated market of $530 million in sales.13,14 Growing demand for hummus products has spurred some tobacco farmers to convert their fields to chickpea cultivation instead, and PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, two of the largest food companies in the world, have added their own brands to the line-up: Sabra Dipping Co. and Athenos, respectively.14 Unlike many popular packaged dips, hummus contains protein and fiber without much fat, and marketers are using this to target health-minded consumers, claiming that 2015 could be “the year of hummus.”15

Modern Research
Chickpeas have been consumed for thousands of years, but not until the past few decades has interest grown regarding the beneficial impact the chickpea can have on human health. Chickpeas are an economical source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, folate, beta-carotene, and a healthy array of fatty acids. As a result, research has shown a number of health benefits from the chickpea.
In a 2008 clinical study conducted on adults with CVD risk factors, poor glucose tolerance, or family members with CVD risk factors, participants consumed chickpeas for 12 weeks.16 Participants showed an increase in polyunsaturated fatty acid and dietary fiber levels, as well as an increase in polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acid ratio that was also associated with a reduction of cholesterol and fasting insulin concentration.
Low-glycemic foods, such as chickpea, also tend to be high in dietary fiber and are digested slowly, qualities which correlate to reduced rates of obesity, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes.17 A study on rats that were fed chickpeas along with a high-fat diet showed a decrease in excess fat accumulation when compared to a high-fat diet including no chickpeas.18 The chickpea diet also improved insulin resistance and prevented hyperglycemia following a meal. Human studies that integrated chickpea into a high-fat diet demonstrated improvements in fasting insulin and total cholesterol levels.5 Additionally, a short-term clinical study showed plasma glucose to be lower following a chickpea meal compared to wheat or white bread.17
The medical field is increasing its understanding regarding the role of the microbiome on health. The microbiota in the human gastrointestinal tract also has been shown to have an important role in health and disease. A human clinical study showed that certain species of beneficial bacteria were more abundant in subjects fed a chickpea diet when compared to a control diet.19 These findings indicate that the chickpea has the potential to modify the intestinal microbial composition and thus enhance the overall health and immune function of most individuals.

Nutrient Profile20
Macronutrient Profile: (Per 100g [approx. 1/2 cup] chickpeas)
378 calories
20.47 g protein
62.95 g carbohydrate
6 g fat
Secondary Metabolites: (Per 100g [approx. 1/2 cup] chickpeas)
Excellent source of:
Folate: 557 mcg (139.3% DV)
Molybdenum: 62 mcg (137.8% DV)
Dietary Fiber: 12.2 g (48.8% DV)
Manganese: 0.85 mg (42.5% DV)
Thiamin: 0.48 mg (32% DV)
Vitamin B6: 0.53 mg (26.5% DV)
Phosphorus: 252 mg (25.2% DV)
Very good source of:
Iron: 4.31 mg (23.9% DV)
Potassium: 718 mg (20.5% DV)
Magnesium: 79 mg (19.8% DV)
Zinc: 2.76 mg (18.4% DV)
Riboflavin: 0.21 mg (12.4% DV)
Vitamin K: 9 mcg (11.3% DV)
Good source of:
Niacin: 1.54 mg (7.7% DV)
Vitamin C: 4 mg (6.7% DV)
Calcium: 57 mg (5.7% DV)
Also provides:
Vitamin E: 0.82 mg (4% DV)
Vitamin A: 67 IU (1.3% DV)
DV = Daily Value as established by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Recipe: Rosemary-Herb Crackers
Ingredients:
1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water (or more, as needed)

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until a dough forms. Add a bit more water (if the dough is dry) or chickpea flour (if the dough is loose) as needed to get a workable dough. The dough will be sticky.
Sandwich the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
Remove the top layer of parchment paper and cut dough into 1″x1″ squares, poking holes in each cracker to prevent them from puffing.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown and the crackers are firm.
—Hannah Bauman

References
The National Geographic Society. Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants. Lane Cove, Australia: Global Book Publishing; Washington, DC: National Geographic Society; 2008.
Van Wyk B-E. Food Plants of the World. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2006.
Singh F, Diwakar B. Chickpea Botany and Production Practices. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics: Telangana, India; 1995.
Cicer arietinum (chickpea). Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Available here. Accessed October 14, 2015.
Jukanti AK, Gaur PM, Gowda CL, Chibbar RN. Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review. Br J Nutr. 2012;108(S1):S11-26.
Murray M, Pizzorno J, Pizzorno L. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books; 2005.
Zuilani G, Galvani M, Leitersdorf E, Volpato S, Cavalieri M, Fellin R. The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the treatment of dyslipidemias. Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(36):4087-93.
Rigotti A. Absorption, transport, and tissue delivery of vitamin E. Mol Aspects Med. 2007;28(5-6):423-36.
Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. University of Nebraska-Lincoln website. Available here. Accessed October 13, 2015.
Plutarch. Parallel Lives. Perrin B, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1919. Available here. Accessed October 22, 2015.
Cicer arietinum. NewCROP FactSHEET. Purdue University website. February 23, 1998. Available here. Accessed October 15, 2015.
Garbanzo Beans: Garden to Table. The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition, and Science website. May 25, 2008. Available here. Accessed October 22, 2015.
Feretti A. There’s Hummus Among Us. Fox News. April 5, 2010. Available here. Accessed November 9, 2015.
Kesmodel D and Fletcher O. Hummus Is Conquering America. The Wall Street Journal. April 30, 2013. Available here. Accessed November 9, 2015.
Valinsky J. 2015 Will Officially Be the Year of Hummus. Mic.com. December 12, 2014. Available here. Accessed November 10, 2015.
Pittaway JK, Robertson IK, Ball MJ. Chickpeas may influence fatty acid and fiber intake in an ad libitum diet, leading to small improvements in serum lipid profile and glycemic control. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(6):1009-1013.
Nestel P, Cehun M, Chronopoulos A. Effects of long-term consumption and single meals of chickpeas on plasma glucose, insulin, and triacylglycerol concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(3):390-395.
Yang Y, Zhou L, Gu Y et al. Dietary chickpeas reverse visceral adiposity, dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance in rats induced by a chronic high-fat diet. Br J Nutr. 2007;98(4):720-726.
Fernando WM, Hill JE, Zello GA, Tyler RT, Dahl WJ, Van Kessel AG. Diets supplemented with chickpea or its main oligosaccharide component raffinose modify faecal microbial composition in healthy adults. Benef Microbes. 2010;1(2):197-207.
Basic Report: 16056, Chickpeas, mature seeds, raw. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture website. Available here. Accessed October 8, 2015.



Research Note - Pankaj Oudhia

Cicer arietinum, commonly known as Bengal gram or chickpea, is a much branched herb and native to South west Asia. It is now grown as a pulse crop all over India. In different Indian languages it is known as chana, chania (Gujarati); boot, chana (Hindi); kari-kampukadale (Canarese); harbara (Marathi); balabhojya, chanaka, kanchuki, and vajibhakshya (Sanskrit). Chickpea seed is consumed in various forms such as dal flour, boiled or parched, salted or sweet preparations, and green foliage as salad. Since ancient times chickpea has been known as a valuable medicinal plant. A preliminary survey of chickpea growers conducted by the author during 1998-99 in different districts of Chhattisgarh state of India revealed that most of the farmers are not aware of the valuable medicinal properties of chickpea. Only few traditional healers are aware of its therapeutic uses and there is a strong need to document this knowledge for the use of future generations. As the demand for medicinal and aromatic plant products (including chickpea) is growing at the rate of 7% per annum globally, it is essential to document and publicise the medicinal properties of chickpea mentioned in ancient Indian literature and also the traditional medicinal knowledge of the common people.

Common and popular names of Chana (Chickpea) around the world.
Languages/Regions/Countries Names
1) Arabic Dzelbana, Hamas, Humn, Humz, Jumes, Nakhi
2) Assam Butmah
3) Bengal But, But Kala, Chhola, Chanabatula, Chotabut
4) Canarese Kadle, Karikadale, Kempukadale
5) Dutch Keker
6) Egypt Hommos, Homos, Melanch
7) English Bengal Gram, Gram, Chickpea, Egyptia Pea.
8) French Café Franzais, Ceseror, Cicerolle, Garoutte
9) German Kichererbse
10) Hindi But, Chana, Chema, Harbhari
11) Iraq Hummus
12) Italian Cece, Ceci
13) Kurdish Nok
14) Mexico Garbanzo
15) Persian Nakud
16) Portugese Ervance, Gras de bica
17) Russian Ovetichie harokh
18) Sanskrit Balabhaishajya, Balabhojya, Chanaka, Harimantha, Kanchuki, Salealpriya, vajimantha
19) Sinhalese Kondi Kodala
20) Spanish Garbanzo
21) Tamil         Kadalai
22) Telugu Harimandhakam, Saunagaly

Chickpea leaves and seeds, and acid exudation of the plants are commonly used as medicine. Chickpea holds a reputed position in Ayurvedic and Unani system of medicine. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, chickpea leaves are sour, astringent to bowels, and improve taste and appetite. Leaves are used to cure bronchitis specially the chronic bronchitis. The seed is used as tonic, stimulant, and aphrodisiac. Because of its aphrodisiac properties, it is referred as vajibhakshya in Sanskrit.

The seed is used as an appetiser; it also has anthelmintic properties. It also cures thirst and burning. Seeds are mainly used for the treatment of bronchitis, leprosy, skin diseases, blood disorders, throat problems, and biliousness. According to Unani system of medicine, chickpea leaves are purgative and abortifacient. Leaves are used in treatment of cold, cough, and pains. Seeds are mainly used for the treatment of diseases of liver and spleen. Seeds enrich the blood and cure skin diseases and inflammation of the ear. Medicinal properties of weeds in chickpea fields and of pod borer (Helicoverpa armigera), a major insect pest of chickpea, have also been reported.

The people of Chhattisgarh have rich traditional medicinal knowledge about plants, insects. Chickpea is one of the frequently used medicinal plants in Chhattisgarh. A survey was conducted during 1999-2000 in ten districts of Chhattisgarh to list the existing medicinal uses of chickpea. From each selected district, two blocks were selected and from each block, a random sample of four villages was taken to make a sample of 200 respondents. Information regarding existing uses was collected through personal interviews.

The survey revealed that chickpea is among frequently used medicinal plants in Chhattisgarh. It revealed that acid exudation from chickpea plants is most frequently used as compared to leaves and seeds during the crop season. The acid exudation is collected by spreading sheets of white cloth over the crop in the field at night and the next morning the dew mixed acid is collected and used as medicine. The natives use this "miracle potion" to cure common ailments like constipation and indigestion. It was also noted during the survey that many pharmaceutical companies are regularly purchasing this exudation at fair rates from the farmers. Many farmers have installed pH meters in their farms. The tribals of Chhattisgarh use this cure patients suffering from snake poisoning and dog bite. In many parts of India, the fresh plant is used for the treatment of dysmenorrhoea (i. e., painful menses). Many traditional healers of Chhattisgarh are also using chickpea plants for this purpose. Fresh chickpea leaves are styptic and farmers use these as first aid remedy to stop bleeding. The styptic properties of Helicoverpa pod borer have also been reported. The boiled leaves of chickpea (collected before flowering) are used as poultice to sprained and dislocated limbs.

The survey suggested that by contacting pharmaceutical companies and other potential buyers of acid exudation, leaves, and seeds, chickpea growers can be encouraged to earn extra profit from the crop. The survey also revealed that there is a strong need to prepare the list of potential buyers of medicinal chickpea plant parts and to recognise and promote traditional uses of chickpea.

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