The bitter leaf plant, scientifically known as Vernonia Amygdalina is a bitter herb found and consumed in tropical climates. In West Africa, besides being used for ethnomedicinal properties, the biter leaf plant is also used to make local dishes like Ndole – Cameroun’s national dish, and Nigeria’s Onugbu soup. These leaves contain a bitter essence which is said to be a quinine substitute for. Indeed, if any plant has earned the ‘ogun gbogbo ise’ (cure for all ailments). Here are 6 fantastic ways bitter leaf may be of benefit to your health.
Bitter leaf is said to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Studies have found compelling evidence to show that bitter leaf therapy or supplementation with edotides may benefit patients with cancer. More specifically, physiologically relevant concentrations of extract from Bitter Leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) have been proven to inhibit DNA synthesis in a breast cancer cell line.
- TREATS DIABETES: Treatments on diabetes are done with the aim of lowering blood sugar. People have attested to bitter juice extract from bitter lead significantly lowering blood sugar levels, a fact which has been attested to by research. However as with all medicinal applications, consult a doctor and consume in moderation so you don’t face the risk of being hypo-glycemic due to over-consumption. It is also said to have anti-diabetic effects on diabetes mellitus.
- TREATS MALARIA: In parts of Africa, Nigeria specifically, bitter leaf has featured in several agbos (herbal concoctions) as one of the indigenous remedies for malaria. Western science has also confirmed that bitter leaf indeed contains anti-plasmodic properties which help combat malaria.
- ANTI-INFLAMATORY: Interestingly, one of the other uses to which bitter leaf has been put to is to treat inflammation discomfort and even to treat wounds. Bitter leaf juice on open wounds also helps wounds heal faster. A study published in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin4.Suppl 2 (2014) reports that bitter leaf is effective in treating acute inflammatory disorders. The study further suggests that the anti-inflammatory effect of this extract may be attributed to inhibition of prostaglandin release and other mediators.
- PROMOTES DIGESTIVE HEALTH: Bitters (alcohol based extracts of bitter plants) have long since been used historically to for digestive and tummy ailments with unclear proof as to whether are really effective for such. However, chewing tender bitter leaf stalks or drinking its extract, salted, is a well-known remedy for constipation and stomach upset.
- FACILITATES THE WEANING PROCESS: In African culture, many mothers rub concentrated bitter leaf juice on their breasts to get their infants off breast milk. The bitter taste of course serves to keep the make the babies disenchanted with the bitter breast and to take to the bottle and other semi solids faster. Ssssh…don’t tell anyone we told you!
Do you eat bitter leaf or use it to treat any ailments? We’d like to hear form you…