Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) is a vegetable used for preparing the popular bitter leaf soup. It is known by everybody, it grows every where and it is a homely plant. The igbo calls it onugbo, the Yoruba calls it ewuro and the hausa calls it shiwaka. Although this plant has been around for hundreds of years, only a few people know of its medicinal and healing properties. Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) as the name implies, is actually a bitter plant whose leaves, extracts, stems and barks are used for culinary,medicinal and curative purposes. Vitamins in Bitter leaf includes;Vitamin A, Vitamin C ,Vitamin E, Vit.B1 and Vit.B2. Bitterleaf is used mostly as a vegetable in igbo land while the Yoruba use it more as a medicine. The fact is that bitter herbs are good for the body. Bitter leaves should always be taken fresh. Nigerians eat a lot of bitterleaf, but they often squeeze out the bitterness from the leaves before eating it. What is left then, is mere chaff, with little or no medicinal value.
Even though it is called bitter, the taste is actually described as having a mild flavor. Bitter leaf carries several health benefits for many people around the globe who consume it regularly. Even though many people are very familiar with bitter leaf, this type of food ingredient may be completely new to others. This food will grow anywhere, unlike other leaves that require specific temperatures and locations in order to maintain growth. Therefore, these leaves are able to flourish in any location.
Bitter leaf does the following;
Battles against breast cancer
According to BreastCancer.org, over 10 percent of all American females will develop breast cancer. In order to lower chances of developing breast cancer, maintaining a healthy weight, remaining physically active and maintaining a healthy diet are a few things that you can do. Adding bitter leaf in addition to that routine may also lessen the risk of breast cancer, according to the February 2004 edition of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
Using a bitter leaf extract supplement on animals during a study decreased bad (LDL) cholesterol by nearly half, while simultaneously raising good (HDL) cholesterol levels. There are no studies, however, providing a definitive determination of how bitter leaf will effect a human body’s cholesterol levels.
If you are a smoker or someone who is breathing second hand smoke, using bitter leaf is helpful for acting as a shield against the pollutants that pour from cigarettes while burning. Through the consumption of bitter leaf juice, smokers and those breathing second hand smoke can help protect themselves against the health dangers associated with the habit.
Contains essential fatty acids
It is important for a person’s diet to contain linolenic and linoleic acid, because the body is unable to make them. Bitter leaf is able make these fats. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when people consumed large quantities of linolenic and linoleic acid, they were at the lowest risk for cardiovascular disease when compared to those who did not.
High in antioxidants
Oxidation is constantly assaulting your system’s cells. If this is left unchecked, precancerous cell formation could possibly arise. According to research conducted by and published in Food Chemistry, there are antioxidant properties found in bitter leaf that, when added to a person’s diet, offer excellent disease-fighting properties.
While use of bitter leaf is not considered a cure-all, it does have proven benefits. The research studies listed above have proven that the benefits of adding bitter leaf to your diet on a routine basis outweigh any doubts that may exist.
The following are some of the uses of bitter leaf.
1. STOMACH ACHE
Chew the tender stem of the plant like chewing stick and swallow the bitterness. This is a well known remedy for stomachaches. In some cases, the ache stops within a few minutes. An alternative is to pound the fresh leaves in a mortar and press out the juice. Add a pinch of salt to three tablespoons of the undiluted juice and drink. This brings immediate relief.
2. SKIN INFECTION
For skin infections such as ringworm, itching, rashes and eczema, the pure, undiluted extract of bitter leaf is excellent. Simply apply it to the affected part daily.
4. LOSS OF MEMORY
5. PROSTATE CANCER
6. GENERAL WEAKNESS