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Butterfly pea flower

Benefits, side effects, and more

You may have heard of butterfly pea flower, but do you know about its health benefits? This article provides a scientific overview of the plant and suggests ways to incorporate it into your diet.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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Butterfly pea flower (blue tea): Benefits & side effects
Last updated on January 20, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on September 3, 2023.

Commonly used in cocktails, beauty products, and herbal teas, butterfly pea flower is famous for its striking blue color.

Butterfly pea flower (blue tea): Benefits & side effects

You might have come across it while exploring health and nutrition topics. Recently, the plant has gained attention for its rich antioxidant profile and health benefits.

Specifically, some research indicates that butterfly pea flowers could be good for your skin and hair, assist in weight loss, and help control blood sugar levels.

This article delves into the main advantages and potential side effects of butterfly pea flower, plus offers suggestions on how to include it in your routine.

In this article

What is butterfly pea flower?

Known scientifically as Clitoria ternatea, the butterfly pea plant originates from Asia and is notable for its vivid blue flowers.

It’s high in anthocyanins, the antioxidants that give it its distinctive color.

Manufacturers often use this flower in cosmetics, or as a natural colorant in foods, beverages, and fabrics.

The blossoms are frequently made into an herbal tea, often mixed with other ingredients like lemongrass, honey, and lemon.

A unique feature of the tea is that its color shifts when the acidity changes, making it a go-to for mixologists crafting special cocktails.

Besides its aesthetic uses, the plant is valued for its medicinal properties and has been linked to a range of potential health benefits.

Summary: The butterfly pea plant is native to Asia and is well-known for its bright blue flowers. It’s a rich source of antioxidants and is commonly used for making herbal tea and natural dye.

Nutrients in butterfly pea flower

Butterfly pea flowers are packed with a type of anthocyanin called ternatins, responsible for the plant’s vivid color.

Studies conducted in test tubes suggest that ternatins may reduce inflammation and could even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

The plant also offers a variety of other antioxidants, such as:

Summary: Butterfly pea flowers contain a variety of potent antioxidants, including ternatins, kaemphferol, p-coumaric acid, and delphinidin-3,5-glucoside.

Potential health benefits of butterfly pea flower

Butterfly pea flowers may be associated with several health benefits.

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Butterfly pea flowers support skin and hair health

Cosmetic manufacturers boast about butterfly pea flowers’ effectiveness in everything from skincare serums to hair mists and shampoos.

According to a 2021 study, butterfly pea extract may increase skin hydration by 70% one hour after topical application.

A 2012 animal study found that butterfly pea extract may be more effective at promoting hair growth than minoxidil, which is a common product used to treat hair loss.

Butterfly pea flower contains a rich array of antioxidants, which may also be beneficial for promoting hair and skin health.

Still, more research is needed to fully understand how butterfly pea flowers may affect your hair and skin.

Butterfly pea flowers may promote weight loss

Some studies even suggest that butterfly pea flowers may aid weight loss efforts.

One test-tube study suggests that butterfly pea flower extract may slow the formation of fat cells by regulating certain pathways involved in cell progression.

Some older test-tube and animal studies have found that ternatins, which are found in butterfly pea flowers, may also block the synthesis of fat cells in your body.

Further research is necessary to evaluate how butterfly pea flowers may impact your weight, primarily when worked into your diet.

Butterfly pea flowers can stabilize blood sugar levels

Studies indicate that butterfly pea flowers may reduce your risk of diabetes and related symptoms.

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For instance, one study of 15 men showed that drinking a beverage containing butterfly pea flower extract increased antioxidant levels and reduced blood sugar and insulin levels despite the sugar levels in the drink.

Moreover, an animal study found that administering butterfly pea flower extract to rats with diabetes significantly reduced their blood sugar levels compared with a control group.

One study even reported that the antioxidant properties of butterfly pea flowers may protect against cell damage and complications related to diabetes.

However, additional studies are needed to determine how butterfly pea flowers may affect long-term blood sugar control.

Summary: Some studies suggest that butterfly pea flower and its compounds may have benefits for skin, hair, weight loss, and blood sugar levels.

Does butterfly pea flower have any side effects?

Nutrition experts typically regard butterfly pea flower as safe when eaten in reasonable amounts.

While there are isolated reports of side effects such as nausea, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea, there’s no scientific evidence to confirm these claims.

However, if you’re dealing with any health issues or are on medication, it’s advisable to consult your doctor before adding butterfly pea flower or any other herbal supplements to your regimen.

Summary: Generally, butterfly pea flower is deemed safe if consumed responsibly. Although no studies confirm side effects, some individuals have reported issues like nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

How to use butterfly pea flower

Butterfly pea flower is a common ingredient in a range of beauty products like hair sprays, toners, shampoos, and facial masks.

You can also make an herbal tea using this plant, which is known for its earthy taste and stunning blue shade.

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To brew a cup of what’s commonly called “blue tea,” simply mix 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of the dried flowers with 1 cup (240 mL) of hot water.

Allow it to steep for about 10 to 15 minutes, then strain out the flowers. You can enjoy it hot or pour it over ice for a chilled version.

Feel free to add a splash of lemon or lime juice, or a dollop of honey, to enhance the flavor. The natural acidity of citrus will also change the drink’s color to a rich purple, thanks to the ternatins in the plant.

Summary: Butterfly pea flower is a popular component in numerous beauty items and is also used to create an herbal tea.


Butterfly pea flower is often found in herbal teas, cocktails, and beauty items.

Packed with antioxidants, it’s thought to offer multiple health advantages, such as promoting weight loss, stabilizing blood sugar, and improving the condition of your hair and skin.

Since it’s versatile and generally comes with minimal side effects, it could be a beneficial add-on to your eating plan.

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