Horse gram can mitigate breathing difficulties | Sunday Observer

Horse gram can mitigate breathing difficulties

12 September, 2021

A complete cure for Covid-19 has not been found hitherto in spite of the advancement of technology. Hence, people in the world have been unable to get back to their ordinary lifestyle. Although there is no proper medicine for the fast spreading virus with many variants, health authorities recommend food supplements that enhance immunity to fight Covid-19 and to avoid fatality.

Literature surveys found that horse gram which is locally known as Kollu is an effective nutraceutical that can provide health and medical benefits for preventing, treating and protection against various diseases.

Scientifically known as Macrotyloma uniflorum, horse gram is a rich source of protein, carbohydrate, iron, vitamins and dietary fibre, although underutilised. As horse gram does not contribute to obesity, it is incorporated as a healthy diet in body fat shredding regimes.

Horse gram requires no close attention in cultivation. It grows under low fertility and with a few inputs (Witcombe et al. 2008).

In Sri Lanka, Kollu is cultivated in the Badulla and Moneragala districts and curried Kollu and Kollu porridge are popular among the villagers.

However, due to ignorance of the health benefits of horse gram, the crop is not widely cultivated and consumed in comparison to other legumes.

Medicinal properties

Among many medicinal benefits of Kollu or horse gram, its ability to ease breathing difficulties is surprising.

This special medicinal property of horse gram unveils a new use of it as a food supplement for Covid-19 patients who suffer from breathing difficulties due to pneumonia. Horse gram as a nutraceutical is well recognised in the traditional medical practice as a potential therapeutic agent for breathing difficulties, common cold, throat infection, fever and in certain instances pneumonia as well.

As per ancient Indian text named Bhojana Kuthuhala compiled by Pandit Ragunath Suri between 1675 to 1700 AD, which details about food and their medicinal properties and nutrition, consumption of horse gram or Kulaththi in Sanskrit language, can mitigate respiratory tract illnesses such as catarrh, breathing difficulties, asthma phlegm and bronchitis.

The book states that horse gram can also treat constipation, bloating of stomach, stomach gas problems, urinary tract ailments, cholesterol, piles, acidity in the stomach and eye ailments.

Pandit Ragunatha’s Bhojana Kuthuhala which was originally written in the Sanskrit language is referred by ayurvedic medical practitioners, dieticians and nutritionists to obtain authentic and accurate information on dietetics and culinary art.

When inquired about the medicinal properties of horse gram (as mentioned in Bhojan Kuthuhala), senior traditional medical practitioner and lecturer Palitha Sri Geegana Arachchige too spoke in agreement with the contents of the ancient ayurvedic and nutrition text. “Kollu is one of the main Yogas of Ratha Kalka used in traditional medical stream. Horse gram is prescribed as a food supplement for people of any age from an infant to an elderly person. People who are suffering from gastric ulcers and inflammation should not take horse gram too often,” he said.

Dr. Geegana Arachchige added that horse gram can treat reproductive issues of women such as irregular menstrual cycle and white discharge. This pulse is also a cure for constipation, piles, urinary tract ailments such as stones in kidney, mumps and stomach gas. “Horse gram eases body ache and back pain and reduces swelling. It also reduces cholesterol in blood,” Dr. Geegana Arachchige said.

Food supplement

When analysing the medicinal properties of horse gram, it becomes clear that horse gram can treat respiratory tract ailments. As per a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) is a respiratory tract infection caused by coronavirus. Patients with viral infection may have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, muscle pain and in extreme cases, pneumonia (WHO).

Horse gram is used in traditional medical practice to treat the illnesses mentioned by the WHO as the symptoms of coronavirus disease. Moreover, horse gram is a food that has been consumed by Sri Lankans for centuries, which includes no chemicals, toxins or additives. Hence, it can be suggested that horse gram can be given as a food supplement for patients with Covid-19.

When inquired from Dr. Geegana Arachchige about the feasibility of recommending dishes made of horse gram such as horse gram porridge (Kollu Kenda/ Kollu Kanji) for Covid-19 patients, he said, “We have been treating many patients with different ailments with our traditional medicines. I agree with you that horse gram can be given to Covid-19 patients to ease breathing difficulties as the Ayurveda says this pulse can treat respiratory tract ailments including pneumonia.

As there is no medicine or cure for Covid-19, we can prescribe horse gram dishes as a food supplement. Horse gram is also proven to enhance immunity in the body and provides energy. It strengthens lungs and treats phlegm and fever. Horse gram also strengthens liver. Since coronavirus is said to affect internal organs such as liver, horse gram is a good food supplement.”

Sweet porridge with Kitul jaggery


  • Horse gram 1 cup
  • Kitul Jaggery- ½ cup
  • First extracted coconut milk 1 cup
  • Second extracted coconut milk 4 cups
  • Cardamom 3 pods
  • A small cinnamon stick
  • Peppercorn 3-4
  • Cove 1
  • Salt as per taste


Wash horse gram well and remove dirt and stones. Let the water drain fully and dry. Heat a pan and roast it until a fine aroma emanates for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool for about five minutes. Grind the roasted horse gram. You may sieve ground horse gram to obtain fine powder.

Grind Kitul Jaggery. Crush cardamom and peppercorn.

Heat a clay pot. Add clove, cinnamon, crushed cardamom and peppercorn. Roast them for about one minute. Then add horse gram powder. Add coconut milk little by little so that horse gram powder will slowly dissolve in it. Cook for about five minutes. Then add first extracted coconut milk, salt and jaggery and mix well. Cook for about two minutes and serve warm.

Apart from horse gram, the spices used in this porridge, peppercorn, cinnamon, cardamom help enhance immunity too.