The rainforest is a tropical ecosystem and a predominant forest in Nigeria. It provides a wide range of plants which serve as sources of numerous human needs. Gongronema latifolium referred to as ‘utazi’ is one these vegetations. Utazi is a tropical plant belonging to the genus of milkweeds. Utazi is a native plant to West Africa. It is primarily used as spice and vegetable in traditional folk medicine. Utazi contains essential oils, nutrients and the likes which makes it so desirable. Utazi has hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Utazi leaves have been used over the years for medicinal purposes to treat diseases and ailments. It is recorded that a great number of Nigerians rely on traditional medicine for their health care needs.
Utazi, a spice plant, is grown in the humid forests of South-Eastern Nigeria. When used in soups, it adds a bitter-sweet taste and is used as a spice in locally brewed beer. It can be considered to be consumed around the nation as it is equally used in the south, south-west, south-east and some parts of the north. Utaz is also utilized in countries like Ghana and Senegal.
Utazi has various health benefits, mainly nutritional and medical. It treats issues concerning the organs, blood, and body. Often deployed in assorted, spicy dishes like nkwobi, isi ewu, abacha, ugba, plantain porridge and soup, Utazi has various health benefits people are not aware of. The parts commonly used are the leaves, stem, and roots. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of Utazi.
It has been reported that Ikales of Ondo State of Nigeria, use Utazi leaves to treat malaria, nausea, and anorexia. The extract of the leaves is often used by the Efik and the indigenes of Cross River State to treat malaria, constipation, diabetes, and hypertension as well. Other cases where utazi is used include treat cough, intestinal worms, dysentery, and dyspepsia. This plant is also proven to relieve pains from cuts and bruises. This is done by creating a paste with the leaves and placing it on the area where the pain is concentrated. A decoction of utazi the roots, combined with other plant species is taken to treat sickle cell anaemia. Utazi contains antioxidant properties which fight free radicals that cause damages to the body. The bark of the utazi plant contains anti-ulcer properties. This plant also has properties which prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Utazi leaves are high in protein. Protein is essential for the growth of cells and proteins to provide a bit of energy to the body. This leaf is used as a spice in various dishes and the stem is often used in Ghana and Sierra Leone as chewing sticks. Chewing sticks is an old method of dental care which has been used over time in Africa. Utazi is high in mineral components which are crucial to digestion, blood, organ function, muscles and bone strength and development. Utazi is also a good element to control body weight, especially for lactating mothers. This high in protein plant has been proven to be good for weight loss and controlling weight gain. Its nutritional components are such that it’s ideal for use in food/feed formulation operations and as industrial raw materials.
The African rain forest remains a source of vegetation play a key role in the health of the African people. Utazi is one which shapes our cultural dishes and has an advantage wherever it is added. Utazi is local, healthy and affordable. Cultivated by the local farmers and agro-agricultural groups, Utazi can be bought at various rates in the market or supermarkets which have sealed produce of the plant.