Bitter leaf is a plant of the daisy family, indigenous to tropical Africa. Scientifically called Vernonia amygdalina, the bitter leaf is a small shrub which grows to a height of about 2-5m. the leaves are elliptical and up to 20cm long. The bitter leaf gets its name from its bitter taste and is most popular in West Africa, Nigeria precisely. Bitter leaf juice for weight loss is a common practice, commonly consumed by some people is homemade bitter leaf tea. The effect of bitter leaf on the liver as well as bitter leaf side effects are common questions amongst Nigerians.
Bitter leaf is farmed easily and mostly found in the eastern part of Nigeria. Bitter leaf plant can be planted using the stem. That makes it easy to get as many plants as you want for few numbers of stems available to you. bitter leaf is largerly farmed in the east and sold at costly prices in northern and some parts of western Nigeria. Bitter leaf is largely consumed due to its health benefits and the its contribution to African cuisine. When dried thoroughly and grounded, bitter leaf can also be exported to other countries. Bitter leaf can be found in pretty much any market and can be bought either fresh on the stem or pre-cut in the market.
When farming bitter leaf, it is essential to have good sunlight. This plant can grow almost uncared for and when being harvested it is ideal to cut the leaves from the stem without uprooting the stem. This will allow more leaves to grow on that same stem.
While Igbos call bitter leaf ‘Onugbu,’ Yorubas call it ‘Ewuro’ and the Hausa’s call it ‘Shiwaka’. The effect of drinking bitter leaf juice has been long emphasised by our aged parents and grandparents, who used and still use it as a herbal remedy. Bitter leaf and pregnancy are also components often associated with each other. With bitter leaf serving numerous unique purposes in our lives, here are some health benefits of bitter leaf.
Bitter leaf juice can be used a s a detox to cleanse the body and stomach of bacteria and other foreign bodies that may cause harm to the body.
Relieve stomach aches
Bitter leaf is a natural remedy for stomach aches. Stomach ache is a symptom of many causes and can in turn cause intestinal discomfort. Bitter leaf is effective for soothing stomach aches by blending and drinking it as a juice.
Blood pressure control
Bitter leaf is actively control’s blood pressure. The potassium compound in bitter leaf helps to lower blood pressure.
Typhoid is a deadly disease caused by bacteria. The andrographolide component present in bitter leaf aids the production of white blood cells which is the key agent in fighting bacteria and foreign bodies and thus, diseases like typhoid.
Malaria is caused by the malaria parasite. Bitter leaf can help to prevent malaria through its enhancement of white blood cells production
Present in bitter leaf is an antiseptic that can help reduce heat in the body, thus relieving fever. The content of andrographolide lactones, glucosides, diterpene, and flavonoids actively serve to reduce fever. When the dried leaves are boiled proportionally with turmeric tubers and water, strained and further mixed with honey, consumption 3 times daily will serve as a home remedy for fever.
Bitter leaf can treat hydatidiform mole, trophoblastic tumor and lung tumor which was the forerunner of cancer. Various components found in bitter leaf inhibit the growth/development of cancer cells making it a good agent for preventing cancer.
Bitter leaf contains andrographolide, potassium and alkaloid. The andrographolide component in bitter leaf improves the body’s immune system by aiding the production of white blood cells to attack foreign bodies. The potassium content reduces water and salt levels in the body combating hypertension.
Appendicitis occurs when the appendix (appendix) becomes inflamed and pus-filled swelling. This could be caused by a blockage by foreign objects (food) for food or foreign objects that are not easily digested. Due to the blockage, enlarged lymphoid tissue and enlargement (swelling) which is the means easy for bacteria to breed. Bitter leaf effectively helps to fight bacteria thus, hindering the development of appendicitis, buying more time for the patient to get treated properly.
Consumption of bitter leaf juice is known to relieve itching of the body. This will be helpful with illnesses that have itching as a side effect without consuming chemical substances that may react with already prescribed medication.
Andrographolide is the active agent in bitter leaf which helps to reduce glucose levels in the body. This is beneficial to diabetic patients as they constantly must watch their sugar level
Prevents kidney disease
Kidney disease is one disease that is very fatal. This is due to the expensive medicines, dialysis, other treatment and the difficulty of finding a kidney donor. The kidney is very important in the body as it acts as a form of filter. Bitter leaf can actively be used to prevent kidney disease.
Treats tooth ache
Tooth aches are caused by inflammation at the core of the tooth. Bitter leaf is very effective for treating inflammations and can therefore, treat tooth aches.
Relieves ear inflammation
Ear inflammations regularly occur in the outer part of the ear and especially in children. Bitter leaf can be used to treat such inflations. The leaves are blended or pureed into a juice and used as ear drops. This will serve as an anti-inflammatory substance.
Treats respiratory tract infections
Respiratory tract infections are infections that affect the respiratory tract. These infections are caused by viruses, bacteria and other organisms. Bitter leaf is effective in treating this infection because of the presence of it immune system strengthening components which will allow the body effectively to fight such infections.
Bitter leaf boosts the function of the reproductive system, thus improving fertility.