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Bay Bean


Bay bean is a fast-growing plant with stems that can grow more than six metres long and two and a half centimetres thick. The fleshy vines form a dense foliage that grows on the ground. Officially the plant is called Canavalia Maritima or Canavalia Rosa. However, it is known by many other names such as beach bean, seaside bean, coastal Jack bean and MacKenzie bean.

As the names ‘seaside bean' or' beach bean' suggest, bay bean can grow on sandy soils but also does well in places where there is more soil. It prefers plenty of sun and can withstand drought. The plant contains purple flowers which consist of three petals. These open when light falls on them and close when it gets dark. Bay bean leaves have a slightly psychedelic effect.

bay bean flower

The mystery of Bay bean

Bay bean seeds can float, which is the reason why the plant is widespread in coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico, including the Yucatan peninsula. It is also found in Australia, Asia and Africa. Despite the fact that bay bean can be found in many places around the world, little is known of it. This makes the plant mysterious, especially when you realise that it has been found regularly among the graves of ancient civilizations. Since bay bean is very unattractive in dried form, the plant probably had a different function than just decoration.

Since it was assumed that bay bean has no medicinal effect whatsoever, it was not subjected to scientific research, in contrast to most psychoactive plants. Nevertheless, some ancient sources report a healing effect. If bay bean was prepared in the right way, it could be used to cure certain ailments. Following the clues of such reports, the first investigations into the possible medicinal properties of this drug have been carried out in the past ten years. It shows that bay bean does have potential. Read more about it in this article. 


The seeds of bay bean have been found during excavations of ancient civilizations in Oaxaca, Yucatan and Peru. The plant was also found around tombs of the Mazatec and other tribes. From this it can be concluded that the plant has been used as early as 300 BC. Possibly bay bean was used as a substitute for marijuana. Furthermore, Captain James Cook and his crew ate the beans during their journey around the world in the years 1768 to 1771. More than a hundred years ago the plant was called Canavali. It wasn't until 1913 that the name changed to Canavalia.

Traditional use

Traditionally the plant was used as a drug against rheumatism. An infusion was made of the leaves. You can make an infusion by pulling parts of a plant into hot water and then sieving them. Such an extract of bay bean was smeared on the skin to prevent rheumatic pains. Unlike most plants, bay bean does not have dry but juicy roots. These can also be pressed out. The juice of the roots should be mixed with the infusion of the leaves. This makes the effect of the brew stronger.

Bay bean was also often used to cover poor and dry soils. The plant can handle extreme conditions. It can withstand heat and needs little water. As the roots of the plant form a strong network, it can also be used to prevent soil erosion.

bay bean plant

Bay bean has also been used as a crop in very dry areas, such as Australia and Africa. In places where almost nothing can grow, this plant survives and provides people with food. Young beans can be eaten raw. However, full-grown beans must first be peeled and then boiled or roasted. This makes them softer and therefore easier to digest. They are also less toxic after heating because adult raw beans are slightly toxic.

The beans contain very high levels of minerals (potassium, manganese, magnesium and zinc) and antioxidants. It also turns out that they contain a lot of protein, carbohydrates and fibres. The problem, however, is the bitter taste. The taste can be masked with certain herbs, although it will never taste great. The beans can also be used to make edible oil. The bitter taste should be less noticeable and one can still benefit from the nutritious effects.

Because of the slightly mind-expanding effect, the leaves used to be smoked. However, dried leaves look unattractive, but when burned they smell delicious. They can also be used as incense.

Chemical background

Bay bean contains the substance L-Betonicin with the structural formula C7H13NO3. This substance is likely responsible for the psychoactive effect, although no research has yet been done to prove this. This assumption is based only on the interpretation of the structural formula. It is possible for a chemist to conclude that a structure like L-Betonicin can attach itself to receptors in the brain and also should be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Both characteristics are necessary if you want to experience a mind-enhancing effect. Other substances found in bay bean are unlikely to have this effect. For this reason, the psychedelic effect is attributed to L-betonicin. However, nothing is known about the mechanism.

Medical applications

Bay bean can be used for its calming effect. In that case, it must be drunk as a tea. Tea can also stimulate digestion and increase blood circulation. Scientific research shows that substances extracted from bay bean in rats have a vasodilatory effect. [1]

According to traditional herbal medicine, external use could reduce pain and inflammation as well as stimulate the production of new tissue. For that reason, the plant was considered to be effective against rheumatism, skin problems and stiffened muscles due to a cold. The affected areas should be treated with an infusion, after which the active substances from bay bean can enter the skin.

The medicinal effects of combating rheumatism are likely caused by the strong antioxidant effect of the beans. This has already been investigated. It also turns out that the antioxidant content increases sharply when the beans are fermented. [2] It has also been proven that the antioxidant effect of bay bean is considerably enhanced when combined with resveratrol. A synergistic effect is created, which means that both plants work stronger together than the sum of the individual parts would suggest. [3] It also appears that certain substances from bay bean inhibit inflammation in rats. The substances with an anti-inflammatory effect in bay bean are called lectins. [4] Given the results of scientific research, it seems that this plant does indeed offer relief from rheumatism.

It has also been proven that certain lectins from bay bean kill bacteria that are responsible for the formation of cavities.   6] It is, therefore, possible that certain components of bay bean could serve as a basis for the development of new medicines, although further research is needed.

As far as the medicinal effect of bay bean is concerned, no scientific research has yet been carried out on humans. Scientists have only investigated how certain components of these plants behave in test tubes. In addition, some studies on rats were carried out. Therefore not much can be said with certainty, but the idea that this common plant has no medicinal effect whatsoever is probably not true.

Legal Status

There are no countries where bay bean is prohibited. The extracts are also legal everywhere. It would be very difficult to ban this plant, given that it is so widespread. 

bay bean 50x extract


You can make a tea from bay bean tea. However, do not let the water boil with the plants in it, because then the active substances will break down. Instead, pour hot water over the leaves and heat over a tea light for some time.

Smoking the leaves is another good option. Grind some leaves and make a joint with them. Azarius also sells a strong extract of this substance, which can be dissolved in hot water and drank. This should also result in a more intense experience. However, the tea has a bitter taste. By adding honey and lemon, this flavour can be masked.


From the extract that Azarius offers, one to three grams can be consumed. Little is known about the possibility of an overdose. As the effect is mild the chance of an overdose is negligible.


Drinking a tea made from the leaves creates a relaxed, slightly euphoric effect, which is a bit like a light cannabis trip. At high dosages and on an empty stomach, the effects can become more intense. For example, someone from the Azarius test team reported that he felt he was moving through fluid after he had consumed bay bean.


As explained earlier, bay bean itself has no strong effect. However, when combined, bay bean can enhance the effect of other herbs. Although little is known about the mechanism behind this, it can significantly enhance the effects of kanna and salvia, among other things.


There are no known cases where the use of bay bean has led to a health risk. Also, no adverse reactions have been reported so far. However, it is not advisable to use this substance for a long time in succession. After all, we do not know what the long-term effects are.


Because of the unfamiliarity with this drug, we do not know exactly of any contraindications. Basically, use your common sense. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use herbs that are not completely known to be safe for the baby. Never combine with medication.

Because it could improve blood circulation, it is not advisable to use this substance when suffering from high blood pressure. It also inhibits inflammation. A disease associated with a chronic infection will therefore not respond well to this drug when used for long periods of time. After all, if the inflammatory reaction is inhibited, bacteria are more likely to occur.


Bay bean is a little-known plant, yet it seems that this drug can result in a light psychedelic trip. The psychonauts among us should certainly give this drug a chance, whether or not in combination with other herbs.

  1. Vasodilator effects of Diocleinae lectins from the Canavalia genus. Assreuy AM, Fontenele SR, Pires Ade F, Fernandes DC, Rodrigues NV, Bezerra EH, Moura TR, do Nascimento KS, Cavada BS. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2009 Dec;380(6):509-21. doi: 10.1007/s00210-009-0465-1. Epub 2009 Oct 24.
  2. Antioxidant activity of raw, cooked and Rhizopus oligosporus fermented beans of Canavalia of coastal sand dunes of Southwest India. Niveditha VR, Sridhar KR, J Food Sci Technol. 2014 Nov;51(11):3253-60. doi: 10.1007/s13197-012-0830-9. Epub 2012 Sep 4.
  3. Structural basis of ConM binding with resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant polyphenol. Rocha BA, Teixeira CS, Silva-Filho JC, Nóbrega RB, Alencar DB, Nascimento KS, Freire VN, Gottfried CJ, Nagano CS, Sampaio AH, Saker-Sampaio S, Cavada BS, Delatorre P, Int J Biol Macromol. 2015 Jan;72:1136-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2014.08.031. Epub 2014 Sep 2.
  4. Interactions between indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) with a lectin from Canavalia maritima seeds reveal a new function for lectins in plant physiology. Delatorre P, Silva-Filho JC, Rocha BA, Santi-Gadelha T, da Nóbrega RB, Gadelha CA, do Nascimento KS, Nagano CS, Sampaio AH, Cavada BS.Biochimie. 2013 Sep;95(9):1697-703. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2013.05.008. Epub 2013 May 29.
  5. Effect of lectins from Diocleinae subtribe against oral Streptococci. Cavalcante TT, Anderson Matias da Rocha B, Alves Carneiro V, Vassiliepe Sousa Arruda F, Fernandes do Nascimento AS, Cardoso Sá N, do Nascimento KS, Sousa Cavada B, Holanda Teixeira E. Molecules. 2011 Apr 27;16(5):3530-43. doi: 10.3390/molecules16053530.
  6. S. Prabhu1 , L. Joelri Michael Raj1 , S. John Britto1 *, S.R. Senthilkumar2 1  Antibacterial activity and Preliminary phytochemical analysis of leaf extract of Canavalia rosea (Sw.) DC. (Beach Bean)






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