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A representation of the L-Canavanine molecule. This complex compound can be toxic in excessive amounts...but in lesser amounts, it is proving a powerful weapon in the battle against many serious ailments.


What is it?

L-Canavanine is one of over 300 documented non-protein amino acids, also known as secondary metabolites or anti-metabolites, which exist in plants (most commonly in legumes and their seeds). Essentially, they assist in the breakdown of the 20 known amino acids common in both plants and animals. L-Canavanine’s chemical structure is quite complex and defined as follows:


Specifically, L-Canavanine is an L-arginine antimetabolite. In the Sutherlandia plant, L-Canavanine is present at levels of just over 2.0 mg per dry leaf gram. It acts as an anti-predatory agent in the plant, protecting it against various insects.

L-Canavanine has been shown to be an inhibitor (selective) of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), with possible usage in the treatment of alcohol induced brain damage and certain other neurological disorders.

What are its benefits?
GL-Canavanine has been identified by G. A Rosenthal, of the Biochemical Ecology Laboratory at The University of Kentucky, as a likely therapeutic agent for human pancreatic and some other cancer types. It has been demonstrated by N. Suzuki, A. Sakomoto and R. Ogawa as having strong potential for the treatment of septic shock and chronic inflammation. These are just a few of numerous research papers on the substance.

There are a number of patents associated with L-Canavanine which indicate it's applicability in the treatment in a number of ailments. Two of the main examples are: Crooks, Rosenthal and Gerald were granted a patent in 1994 for the use of the substance to treat pancreatic cancer (Patent No. 5,552,440) and Karson, Lyon and Freeman being granted a patent that uses the substance in the treatment of numerous brain disorders in 1996 (Patent No. 5,527,825). In patent No. 6,346,519, E. Petrus gives L-Canavanine a partial role in the treatment of arthritis.

More research is currently underway on the substance and its applicability to certain other conditions. Details will be placed here as soon as confirmed.

Is a patent total proof that L-Canavanine is effective?
The tests, experiments and theory associated with the above have met a defined standard of proof with the US Patent office, as evidenced by the awarding of the patents. Despite this, we do not regard the awarding of the patents as demonstrable evidence for the efficacy of L-Canavanine in themselves. But critically, the above findings do correlate with the widespread anecdotal evidence we have taken from individuals who have used Sutherlandia and the fact that their ancestors, going back hundreds of years, have also used the plants for the same purpose, with very positive results.

Are there any side effects?
If taken in severe overdose quantities (i.e. 1,000 mg per day for 12 months), L-Canavanine can cause thinning of the blood. Furthermore, it can exacerbate the symptoms of Lupus, a disease where the body's own immune system starts to attack various organs. Individuals with kidney conditions must consult their physician before taking this substance.

At recommended dosage levels, the L-Canavanine in Sutherlandia Frutescens Tablets has not been shown to cause side effects.

Of Interest
The Nippon Medical School has a very readable report on how L-Canavanine fared in experiments for the treatment of septic shock. Click here for the report in PDF format.


The Japanese Journal of Cancer Research contains a very interesting report on how the substance can be used to treat the effects of cancer. Click here for an abstract.


Wahl, Allen and McCartney - Francis were awarded Patent no. 5,449,688 for the treatment of chronic inflammation. L-Canavanine features in the treatment. Click here for details.


Patent no. 5,527,825 refers to the treatment of various neurological disorders with L-Canavanine. Click here for the full patent.



L-Canavanine is the subject of a number of experiments which explore its potential as a treatment for shock. Please click here for details.

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