Bitter leaf is a tropical plant that grows in some parts of Africa. It is majorly grown in the western and southern part of Nigeria and are planted with the stem during the raining season.
It is well-known for its bitter taste and is often referred botanically to as Vernonia amygdalina (VA).
Apart from the scientific name, it is also known under many names such as onugbu in Igbo, efo ewuro in Yoruba, shakwa shuwaka in Hausa and etidot in Cross River State of Nigeria
Like the name suggests bitter leaf is so bitter that just touching the leaves can leave your hands tasting bitter for many hours.
Because of this, many people cannot withstand the thought of drinking bitter leaf juice/water.
But remember that the best of medicines comes with a bitter taste and bitter leaf ranks high among them.
Bitter leaf is used in preparing popular Nigerian soup called bitter leaf soup (ofe onugbu) in Igbo land and many other local cuisines.
Bitter Leaf Business
There is no restaurant or eatery you will go to in Nigeria without them having bitter leaf soup. In short, it is a business and those in bitter leaf business are smiling to the bank.
Apart from eating it as a food, bitter leaf vegetable is also used in the pharmaceutical industries for their extracts.
This means that you can sell bitter leaf to these pharmaceutical industries and make your money. To prepare the leaves for cooking, you need to wash them first.
The sad part is that almost all the nutrients are washed off from the leaves. Even the leftovers are further lost to the cooking process:
But the truth is, without washing it for cooking, the bitterness will not allow you to eat the food. Some wash it without washing off all the bitterness, thereby leaving it with a kind of bitter sweet taste.
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Bitter Leaf Tea
Bitter leaf tea is an extract from the bitter leaf itself. It has numerous medicinal values and benefits to human health and lifestyle.
It is good in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems and generally protect the body from damages to cells, tissues, and organs.
Bitter leaf juice/water on its own, is bitter and a turn off for a lot of people.
So to reduce the bitterness of the bitter leaf juice, firstly, blend it with spinach or Ugwu (fluted pumpkin). The same method applies to bitter leaf smoothie.
If you still find it very bitter, then add some sweeteners like sweet fruit juices to it, such as apples, pineapple, or oranges.
It is important to note that it is better to consume bitter leaves raw without washing off its bitterness in other to enjoy its miraculous maximum health benefits.
Nutritional Facts about Bitter Leaf
Bitter leaf is an herb plant. According to the herbpathy.com this plant has a botanical name, Vernonia amugdalina.
It contains a lot of useful nutrients. This is a full list of it’s nutrients; alkaloids, anthraquinones, ascorbic acid, calcium, chlorogeni, cooper, coumarins, essential oil, flavonoids, folic acid, iron, liganans, minerals, myricetin, phenolic acid, phosphorus, potassium, protein, saponins, sesquiterpenes, steroids, tannic acid, terpene, vitamin C, vitamins, xanthones, and zinc.
Bitter leaves itself; the roots and the plant, in general, are highly medicinal and exhibit certain nutritional benefits in the human body.
Aside from using it for cooking, most people are unaware of its other miraculous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Bitter Leaves
From treating malaria, fertility, typhoid, diabetes, Hepatitis B, diarrhea, tuberculosis, gallstones, and kidney disease, to the prevention of cancer, correction of hormonal imbalance, and lowering of high blood pressure, the health benefits goes on and on.
- Helps to Clear Fever
Firstly, bitter leaves contain flavonoids which have powerful antioxidant effects in treating several health issues such as feverish conditions.
Antiseptic contained in the bitter leaf is very effective to reduce the heat inside the body. Bitter leaf nutrients like andrographolide lactones, glucosides, fiterpene, and flavonoids can decrease the body tension and of course serve, to reduce fever.
A glass of this herbal juice helps to combat malarial symptoms and reduce fever effects.
- Soothes and Cures Pile.
Secondly, taking a cup of the juice a day is a great way to detoxify the body of harmful toxins. The juice aids in increasing breast milk production in nursing mothers.
- It relieves stomach ache
Thirdly, it is a renowned remedy for stomachaches. All you need do is to chew the tender stem of the plant like a chewing stick and swallow the bitterness and the ache will stop within a few minutes.
Alternatively, you can 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. You will experience relief in no time.
- It fights prostate cancer
Fourthly, 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.
It is very good for this ailment because it intensifies the flow of urine and reduces the pain, as well as regulates the spread of the cell.
- It fights pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lung and this miraculous plant is powerful enough to combat this condition.
Insomnia is a condition that promotes habitual sleeplessness.
However, studies have shown that Bitter leaf extract has done wonders for those suffering from sleeplessness.
- Enhances fertility
Studies have shown that it boosts the chances of pregnancy among women who are finding it difficult to conceive.
And this is because the detoxification power of helps prevent the pollution of the antibodies that fight diseases, initiate tissue repair and regeneration.
- Aids in Weight Loss
The components in leaf juice make it great therapy for burning off that extra fat you have been looking at getting rid of. A daily dose of the juice in your diet can eliminate bad cholesterol and reduces excess calories in the body
- Detoxifies the Body
The juice extracted has detoxifying properties that help in mopping off impurities from the body.
This effect also helps to get rid of toxins in the liver, kidney as well as the lungs and entire human body.
- Treats Diabetes
Bitter leaves have versatile curative and medicinal properties which can treat and manage certain health conditions.
Scientifically, it has been proven that bitter leaf contains plant compounds which contribute to its bitter taste and play a pivotal role in moderating the blood sugar level and promoting normal insulin function.
This compound hinders the rising of glucose in the blood which leads to the risks of diabetes.
Above all, you can use it as a laxative. Taking bitter leaves or extracts may help soften your stool and relieve constipation.
Mature Vernonia amygdalina (Bitter leaves) is safe for consumption by humans either by cooking or eating it fresh.
Please consult your doctor before consumption if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Bitter Leaf Side Effects
It is safe to consume in moderation or the right amounts.
Side effects that may arise in the form are loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, headache, runny nose, and fatigue.
This article is for educational purposes only, Always seek medical advice before you try anything new.