Bitter leaf (vernonia amygdalina), is a vegetable that is commonly grown in West Africa. It can be found growing randomly along roadsides or in the bushes. Since they are very easy to plant and maintain, in Nigeria, you can find them grown in most home gardens especially as it is one of the major ingredients in some Nigerian delicacies.
Bitter leaf which the Hausas call Shiwaka, the Yorubas call Ewuro and the Igbos call Onugbu; is not just used in cooking however, it has been used for ages as a medicinal herb in concoctions popularly called agbo or as a straight juice. Because of the overpowering nature of its bitter taste, it is often washed before being added to soups to reduce the bitter taste, sometimes after being washed it is then dried. For the agbo or drinks however, it is best taken fresh. Inspite of all these, very few people are still fully aware of the amazing potentials of this commonly found greens.
Just as with most vegetables, it also has some great sweet benefits that thankfully defy its name which can greatly cure certain ailments and boost your family’s wellness.
Here is a list of some of these sweet benefits for children and adults alike;
1. It helps to fight the effects of fever
fevers simply refer to a high body temperature which can be brought on by a number of conditions. Bitterleaf can help lower the body temperature due to its high content of andrographolide lactones, glucosides, diterpene and flavonoids.
2. It helps in the flu (common cattarh, cold and cough)
It relieves the sufferer from the discomforts associated with this condition. Once noticed, taking a drink of the juice immediately helps
3. It prevents malaria
Renowned for its high natural quinine potency, regular drinking of its juice prevents malaria
4. It treats pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory disease of the lungs that is caused by bacterial or viral infection, in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid. To combat this conditon, squeeze the fresh leaves of the plant in water and take a glass-full thrice daily for at least a month. Always remember to warm (not boil) the solution on fire each time before drinking.
5. Its used for tummy aches and menstrual cramps
A great remedy for stomach upsets, some people chew the stem much in the same way you would a chewing stick, but swallow the bitterness instead of spitting it out. Another option is to pound the leaves to get the juice out and then drink undiluted with maybe a pinch of salt. Usually relief is felt within minutes
6. It helps in memory loss
for those who have suffered loss of memory, drinking the juice daily for a minimum of 2 months can help boost memory retention.
7. It has anti-diabetic properties
Its ability as a detoxificant helps in cleansing the blood of sugar which greatly helps in preventing the onset of diabetes as ell as managing the condition naturally
8. It also has anti-cancer properties
Bitter leaf extract can inhibit the growth and development of breast cancer cells, can treat hydatidiform mole, trophoblastic tumor and lung tumor which was the forerunner of cancer and the plants can stop the activities of gastric cancer cells as well as inhibit tumor growth. The Andrographolide bitter extract shows activity in particular substances that are effective in preventing liver disease/liver, improve the immune system as well as prevent cancer.
Bitter leaf consumption in any form is an acquired taste. In case you are wondering how best to get your children to succumb to a bitter leaf treatment, starting them early is always your best bet. However, if you are starting them late…a bit of honey does not nullify the potency of the bitter leaf. Then again, its bitterness is still overpowering…so just go ahead and ensure you give it to them with love and before long, they will no longer be affected by the taste. The bottom line is, a family living in wellness as a result of more natural remedies.
9. It is great for hypertension
Its bitter compounds as well as its high potassium content make it perfect for lowering high blood pressure as the potassium reduces salt content.
10. It does wonders for the skin
It not only fights against the onset of aging and the effects of free radicals, it also helps in increasing the body’s defence against infections that can wreak havoc on the skin such as scabies, acne (pimples), ring worm and itching.
11. Fight ear inflamation
This condition is commonly experienced more with children, blend the leaves into a puree after washing, strain and using a dropper, put no more than 3 drops on the affected ea 4 – 5 times daily
12. It is used to treat diarrhea or dysentry
Again as a result of its cleansing properties from the bitter compounds, it can stop diarrhea even in your children. All you need do is boil the leaves in water, strain out the leaves, allow the water to cool and then drink at least twice daily
13. Reduce the effects of tooth ache
believe it or not, bitter leaf can ease the pain that comes from tooth ache. Follow the same preparation as you would for diarrhea
14. Improve fertility and pregnancy chances
It is renowned as a fertility booster because it helps to detox the liver which is responsible for keeping in balance all reproductive hormones. Estrogen is the well known fertility hormone in women that stops the ovulation process when pregnancy occurs. Cleansing the liver boosts the possibility of fertilization and conception. Its detoxification properties also prevents the pollution of the antibodies that help the body initiate tissue repair and regeneration. Bitter leaf also corrects abnormal and irregular menstruation which a major sign of hormonal imbalance and anovulation.
Are there any other benefits of bitter leaf you are aware of? How do you prepare your own remedies? Kindly share in the comments section and let us know if this post has helped you.