BITTER LEAF (Vernonia amygdalina)
Bitter leaf is a common healthy sour vegetable that is majorly grown in the western and southern part of Nigeria.
Bitter leaf is known as onugbu in Igbo, efo ewuro in Yoruba, shakwa shuwaka in Hausa and etidot in Cross River State of Nigeria, and it contains flavonoid and other plant compounds that have nutritional values which promote overall health.
Bitter leaf has a bitter taste and it is true that most people may not find it pleasant because of its bitter taste. It is well known that the best of medicines comes with a bitter taste and bitter leaf is one of such medicines.
From treating malaria, typhoid, diabetes, diarrhea, tuberculosis, gallstones and kidney disease, to the prevention of cancer and lowering of hypertension, the health benefits of bitter leaf is incredible.
Below are therefore the numerous health benefits of bitter leaf
- It relieves stomach ache
Bitter leaves are known to help treat some abdominal difficulties such as diarrhea, stomach upset and gastrointestinal tract diseases like dysentery and related other issues. For this to be effectively done, its stems must be chewed like a chewing stick and swallow its bitterness.
Another way of doing this is to pound the fresh leaves in a mortar or squeeze the leaf to let out the juice, add a pinch of salt to three tablespoons of the undiluted juice and drink. It has been proven to bring instant relief.
- It helps to treat Fever
Bitter leaves contain flavonoidswhich have powerful antioxidant effects in treating several health issues such as feverish conditions.
Other elements like andrographolide lactones, glucosides, diterpene are also present in the leaves and work together to treat and trim down fever and its symptoms.
A glass of bitter leaf juice is a strong herbal medicine that helps to combat malarial symptoms and reduce fever effects.
- Lowers High Blood Pressure
Chewing fresh bitter leaves or drinking the juice extracted from the leaves is commonly known to reduce the level of sugar in the blood and control blood pressure due to the bitterness.
This is true because bitter leave has andrographolide content that contributes to sugar reduction in the blood thereby reducing the risk of resulting diabetes.
There is also a trace of potassium in bitter leaf which is also good for the treatment of hypertension.
This mineral helps to flush out the accumulation of salt which spikes the amount of sodium in the bloodstream and causes high blood pressure.
- It Prevents Cancer Risks
Presence of anti-cancer properties in bitter leaves makes it effective in preventing and management of hydatidiform mole, trophoblastic tumour and lung tumour which are signs of cancer.
Bitter leaf has also been mixed with other herbal preparations in an alternative medicine experiment on breast cancer and was found effective.
Andrographolide, labdane diterpenoid present in bitter leaf is a plant compound and a powerful cancer curative agent that has been studied scientifically and found effective in the treatment of gastric cancer, colon and prostate cancers.
Research has shown that prostate cancer is common among men who are over forty years old. And one of its known symptoms is difficult and painful urination. Bitter leaf can be used to treat prostate cancer, because it helps to increase the flow of urine and reduce the pain, as well as regulates the spread of the cell.
To fight prostate cancer with bitter leaf, simply squeeze the fresh leaves in water and take a glassful four times daily while you constantly go for a checkup. You’ll urinate frequently, but don’t worry about that because it is part of the cleansing process.
Also, it can also be treated by;
Combining the bitter leaf with turmeric. Curcumin in turmeric and substances that exist in the bitter leaf such as andrographolide will be able to form a synergistic formula as a “cure cancer” as earlier stated.
- It fights pneumonia
Pneumonia is an acute or chronic inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms, or sometimes by physical or chemical irritants. Bitter leaf has been known for the treatment of pneumonia.
Squeeze the fresh leaves of the plant in water. Take a glass full of the liquid juice three times a day. Warm the solution on fire each time before drinking. Remember, do not boil, just warm. Continue with the medication for a month. You do not need to squeeze the leaves each time you want to drink it. You can squeeze a large quantity at once and add some honey. This will preserve the solution. However, note that if you store bitter leaf extract for twenty-four hours or more, the bitterness will disappear or diminish.
- It improves fertility in women
Studies have shown that bitter leaf boosts the chances of pregnancy among women who are finding it difficult to conceive. This is so because, it helps to improve quality hormone profile and as well prevents the toxification of immunoglobulin that fights an important female sex hormone, estrogen and reproduction.
- It treats Insomnia
Insomnia is a condition that promotes habitual sleeplessness. And as funny as it may sound, there are a lot of people experiencing this condition.
This group of people finds it impossible to sleep at night and no matter how hard they try, their effort is always met with wakefulness.
However, studies have shown that Bitter leaf extract has done wonders for those suffering from sleeplessness. Simply take two glasses of bitter leaf solution every night and you will experience a calmness that comes with relaxation and sleep. Honey may be included to ease the sweetness.
- Good for the bones and teeth
Bitter leaf contains Vitamin c, and Vitamin c is a strong antioxidant that performs special roles like the repairs and maintenance of bones and teeth as well as prevention of deficiencies associated with this essential vitamin.
Bitter leave also contain a vitamin K, and Vitamin k helps in clotting of blood by maintaining healthy bones and prevention of bone tissues weakness called osteoporosis.
- Treats Diabetes
In fact, bitter leaves have versatile curative and medicinal properties which can treat and manage various health conditions.
Andrographolide is the main active ingredient in bitter leaf that serves to reduce levels of glucose in the blood. The Andrographolide compound found in the bitter leaf hinders the rising of glucose in the blood which leads to the risks of diabetes. It does not only reduce sugar level, but also helps to repair the damaged pancreas in the body.
Here’s how to use bitter leaf to treat diabetes
- Squeeze bitter leaves approximately 5 grams of fresh leaves,
- Pour 1 cup of hot water (boiled), after the cold and then filtered.
- Distillate, then take two glasses three times daily for one month, this amounts to six glasses daily.
- Improves Body Metabolism
Vitamin B1 called thiamine, in other words, plays important role in the metabolism of lipids, amino acids and glucose in the human body.
Thiamine is an important dietary supplement occurring naturally in a bitter leaf that helps to oxidize fatty acids in order to produce the synthesis of lipids.
Metabolism of lipids is commonly associated with that of carbohydrate which can be converted into fats by known processes.
Bitter leaf is very effective in this chemical synthesis known as metabolism because it contains the mineral that plays the key role.
11. Treating of Typhoid
Typhoid is a disease caused by bacteria. Consuming bitter leaf is able to kill the bacteria that cause typhoid.
How to treat typhoid with bitter leaf:
- Wash a handful bitter leaf,
- then boil with water,
- wait for it to cool down
- mix with a reasonable amount of honey
- Then drink a cup three (3) times daily.
- Treatment of Skin Infection
Bitter leaf is also effective for the treatment of skin infections. It helps to eliminate various skin infections. For skin infections such as ring worm, itching, rashes and eczema, the pure undiluted extract of bitter leaf is excellent. Simply apply it to the affected part daily.
Squeeze the fresh leaves on your palm and apply the juice on skin rashes, eczema, ring worms and any superficial skin ailments, you’ll notice a change in few days.
Note: Don’t apply to open wound.
13. Cleansing of the kidney
The kidney is another important organ in the body. The kidney is the organ that helps to expel waste materials from the body. It secretes urine that flows into the urethras. If the kidney breaks down, there will be a general disorder in the body. Bitter-leaf is very useful in taking care of the kidney and the liver. It is for this reason that we refer to bitter leaf as a cure for all. If the kidney and the liver are healthy, the whole system will function well.