Lathyrus is a genus in the pea family and contains species such as Lathyrus savitus (grass pea) and Lathyrus odorata (sweet pea). Grass pea is used as a famine food, especially in India, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, because the plants are extremely hardy and the seeds are high in protein. However, chronic consumption of large quantities of the seeds can cause neurolathyrism, osteolathyrism, or angiolathyrism. Lathyrism is thought to be one of the oldest neurotoxic diseases and was well-described in India 2,000 years ago and again in France in 1829. It used to be prevalent throughout Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Asia. Today, lathyrism is found primarily in India, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia, primarily during famine crises or droughts.
There is currently insufficient evidence available in humans to support the use of Lathyrus spp. for any medical indication.

Related Terms

Chick pea, chickling pea, chickling vetch, grass pea, grass-pea, green grass pea, khesari, kollo (Amharic), Lathyrus lectins, Lathyrus ochrus, Lathyrus odoratus, Lathyrus odoratus L., Lathyrus sativa, Lathyrus sativus, Lathyrus sativus L., Lathyrus sativus Linn., Lathyrus sativus flour extract, Lathyrus silvestris L., Lathyrus tingitanus lectin, legume, Fabaceae (family), lectin lath-O, nifiro (Amharic), shiro (Amharic), sweet pea, vetchling.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.