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Vicia Faba, Favism and Other Health Precautions

Vicia Faba, Favism and Other Health Precautions


Vicia faba or broad beans, when raw, contains chemical substances like vicine, isouramil and convicine. All of these contribute to the development of hemolytic anemia for people who have glucose-6-phospate dehydrogenase deficiency or G6PD. Hemolytic anemia is a medical condition wherein there is abnormal breakdown of red blood cells. Thefore, faba beans, when taken raw, can potentially aggravate hemolysis which can be fatal for G6PD patients.


This condition is called “favism” to some. The word favism was taken after the word “faba” of the faba bean. Acute anemia occurs almost immediately after a G6PD patient ingests the vicia faba seeds. There are studies being done to determine the specific cause or the specific substance that can cause such.


There are other health concerns that could also be taken into account when vicia faba is ingested. Faba beans are said to be rich in tyramine, a natural monoamine compound and therefore should not be taken by people who have been prescribed to take monoamine oxidase or MAO inhibitors.


Raw vicia faba or broad beans can also produce allergic reactions to some people. These allergic reactions are usually presented as discomfort but rarely coma. However, these could be prevented by cooking the beans.


Another thing to be concern of is that vicia faba plants have varying amounts of levodopa (L-Dopa). The amount of levodopa could either be too much or too little depending on the plant. If this would be used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms, little amount of levodopa would be insufficient. It is also important to know that too much of L-Dopa can lead to dyskinesia. This is usually observed in patients taking medications for Parkinson’s disease. In addition to that, there are cases wherein high concentration of L-Dopa can cause nausea.

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