Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
- The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is grown in semitropical areas of the world. Beans vary in color and shape and are a cheap and nutritious food. They are typically high in protein, fiber, and nutrients, and are usually low in fat.
- Early research suggests that beans may reduce cholesterol levels and body weight. They may also benefit people with diabetes. Canned refried black beans may be a good source of iron for those with iron deficiency.
- Some studies report that beans act as “carb blockers” by helping to block the process of carbohydrate digestion. A product called Phase 2® Carb Controller (Pharmachem Laboratories, Kearny, NJ) has been found to promote weight loss and reduce blood glucose after meals.
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.
Preliminary research suggests that pinto beans and black beans may lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as increase HDL cholesterol. More studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
Eating dry beans may reduce the risk of cancer, according to some research. More studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
Various studies have found that beans may act as “carb blockers” and slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. A bean extract product called Phase 2® Carb Controller (Pharmachem Laboratories, Kearny, NJ) has been found to lower blood glucose and insulin after eating in both healthy and diabetic people. However, the results are not consistent, and more research is needed.
Beans have been found to increase stool output and may be safe for children with sudden diarrhea. Beans may also be safe for newborns with diarrhea after bowel surgery. More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Early research suggests that eating beans may reduce the risk of heart disease. More studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
Some studies have found that bean extract may lower body weight, body fat, and waist size in overweight and obese people. Beans may act as “carb blockers” to slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the body. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Acne, arthritis (joint pain), anemia, antiaging, antioxidant, bladder disorders, body building, burns, cardiovascular disease (heart disease), carminative (prevents gas), colorectal cancer (bowel cancer), constipation, cough, diabetes, diarrhea, diuretic (promotes urination), dropsy (fluid buildup), dysentery (stomach disorder), eczema (skin disorder), food uses (weaning), hiccups (hiccoughs), HIV, hypertension (high blood pressure), iron deficiency, kidney stones, laxative, lung cancer, myocardial infarction prevention (heart attack prevention), pruritus (itchy skin disorder), rheumatism (joint pain), sciatica (leg pain and numbness), skin moisturizer, ulcers, urinary tract infections.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
- To treat high cholesterol in overweight or obese people, two 150-milligram capsules of northern white kidney bean with locust bean gum extract have been taken by mouth three times daily for three months. A dose of 1,500 milligrams of bean pod extract (Phase 2®, Pharmachem Labs) has been taken by mouth twice daily with meals. A meal of consisting of 130 grams of dried, cooked pinto beans has been taken by mouth daily for 12 weeks. A dose of 1/2 cup of vegetarian baked beans has been taken by mouth for eight weeks.
- To promote weight loss, 1,000-1,500 milligrams of a specific bean pod extract (Phase 2®, Pharmachem Labs) has been taken by mouth twice daily, with lunch and dinner.
- Note: Secondary sources say that the ingredients in commercially available bean extracts such as Phase 2® may vary among products.
- Note: According to Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., doses of Phase 2® should not exceed 6-10 grams daily.
Children (under 18 years old)
- There is no proven safe or effective dose for beans in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
- Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to Phaseolus vulgaris, its parts, or other members of the Fabaceae family.
Side Effects and Warnings
- Beans are considered safe when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. Bean pod extracts are considered possibly safe when taken by mouth for up to three months.
- Beans may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
- Beans may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
- Use cautiously in people who have anemia, folate deficiency, gout (joint inflammation), or vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Bean consumption may lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
- Use cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and people with severe liver or kidney disease, due to a lack of safety information.
- According to Pharmachem Laboratories, Phase 2® should be taken by mouth in doses of no more than 6-10 grams daily.
- Potential side effects include anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction), breathing problems, constipation, diarrhea, gassiness, giddiness, hives, increased frequency of bowel movement, increased risk of metabolic syndrome (factors that increase heart disease and diabetes risk), loss of consciousness, nausea, shortness of breath, and stomach pain or swelling.
- Avoid consuming raw or improperly cooked beans due to the risk of food poisoning.
- Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to Phaseolus vulgaris, its parts, or other members of the Fabaceae family.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Use cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety information.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
- Beans may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
- Beans may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
- Beans may also interact with anticancer agents, antifungals, antiobesity agents, antiretrovirals, cholesterol-lowering agents, and laxatives.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
- Beans may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
- Beans may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
- Beans may also interact with amino acids, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungal herbs and supplements, antiobesity herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, folic acid, iron, laxatives, sodium, and vitamin B12.
- This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Azinge NO. Use of beans diet for control of diabetes. Trop.Doct. 1985;15(3):139. View Abstract
- Barrett ML. and Udani JK. A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): a review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic control. Nutr J 2011;10:24. View Abstract
- Beans for body building. Philippines, Food and Nutrition Research Institute. FNRI Publication. 1977;27
- Birketvedt GS, Travis A, Langbakk B, et al. Dietary supplementation with bean extract improves lipid profile in overweight and obese subjects. Nutrition 2002;18(9):729-733. View Abstract
- Bo-Linn, GW, Santa Ana CA, Morawski SG, et al. Starch blockers–their effect on calorie absorption from a high-starch meal. N Engl.J Med 12-2-1982;307(23):1413-1416. View Abstract
- Celleno L, Tolaini MV, D’Amore A, et al. A Dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women. Int J Med Sci 2007;4(1):45-52. View Abstract
- Layer P, Carlson GL, and DiMagno EP. Partially purified white bean amylase inhibitor reduces starch digestion in vitro and inactivates intraduodenal amylase in humans. Gastroenterology 1985;88(6):1895-1902. View Abstract
- Mkanda AV, Minnaar A, and Kock HL de. Relating consumer preferences to sensory and physicochemical properties of dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2007;87(15):2868-2879.
- Obiro WC, Zhang T, and Jiang B. The nutraceutical role of the Phaseolus vulgaris alpha-amylase inhibitor. Br J Nutr 2008;100(1):1-12. View Abstract
- Okada Y and Okada M. Effects of radical scavenger protein from broad beans on glutathione status in human lung fibroblasts. Environ Health Prev Med 2007;12(6):272-277. View Abstract
- Preuss HG. Bean amylase inhibitor and other carbohydrate absorption blockers: effects on diabesity and general health. J Am Coll Nutr 2009;28(3):266-276. View Abstract
- Rodriguez-Burger AP, Mason A, and Nielsen SS. Use of fermented black beans combined with rice to develop a nutritious weaning food. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
- Schumann K, Romero-Abal ME, Maurer A, et al. Haematological response to haem iron or ferrous sulphate mixed with refried black beans in moderately anaemic Guatemalan pre-school children. Public Health Nutr 2005;8(6):572-581. View Abstract
- Wolever TM, Jenkins DJ, Thompson LU, et al. Effect of canning on the blood glucose response to beans in patients with type 2 diabetes. Hum Nutr Clin Nutr 1987;41(2):135-140. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.