Things bitter leaf can do
Written by Sade Oguntola
Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00
Bitter leaf is a traditional ingredient in many African soups. Also known as Vernonia amydalia, its bitter taste makes it distinct from many other ingredients used for preparing soups. Recent studies indicate that eating more of Bitter leaf also called ‘Ewuro’ in Yoruba. ‘Onugbu’ in Igbo, and ‘Shiwaka’ in Hausas, has many potentials health benefits.Treat diabetes:
Bitter leaf does not only reduce the blood sugar level drastically, it also helps to repair the pancreas. Squeeze 10 handfuls of the fresh leaves in 10 litres of water and take two glasses thrice daily. Some people take a handful of bitter leaf and eat it too.
According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioresources, researchers at the University of Jos, stated that the crude chloroform extract of the leaves of Bitter leaf has an anti-diabetic effect in rats with diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes) under laboratory conditions.
Similarly, researchers writing in the Medical Journal of Islamic World Academy of Sciences said that the administration of aqueous extract of bitter leaf at a concentration of 500 mg/kg of body weight significantly decreased the level of blood glucose. Its efficacy to lower blood glucose level was comparable with that of chlorpropamide, a standard drug used in the management of diabetes.”
Indeed, a Bitter leaf-based herbal anti-diabetic medication has passed human clinical trials and received a United States Patent 6531461 for the treatment of diabetes far back as 2008.Ward off heart attack, stroke:
Regular consumption of vegetables such as Vernonia amygdalina (bitter leaf) and Telfairia occidentalis (Ugwu) can help to regulate the blood’s cholesterol level, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
This build-up of cholesterol and other substances called plaque, can narrow the artery like a clogged drain, leading to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Over time, this causes heart attack.
The 2011 study published in the African Journal of Biochemistry Research showed that the treatment with bitter leaf and ugwu diets led to a significant increase in serum good cholesterol (HDL-C), showing their protective role in conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels such as heart attack.Treat stomach ache
In cases of constipation, stomach ache and inflammation of the stomach, bitter leaf is a remedy. Chew the tender stem of the plant like a chewing stick and swallow the bitterness or extract the juice and add a pinch of salt to three tablespoons for immediate relief.Prevent malaria
Bitter leaf has been widely used and recognised for its efficacy in preventing malaria. The raw leaves are plucked and washed before being squeezed to extract the juice. Drinking the juice alone is an antidote for malaria.
Scientists in a study of the antimalarial activities of the aqueous and ethanolic crude extracts of bitter leaves, found that under laboratory conditions, extracts of bitter leaf made from water and ethanol showed moderate antimalarial activity and a negligible level of toxicity in the test animals–rats.
In the 2011 edition of the Science World Journal study, the ethanol extract of bitter leave showed the highest antimalarial activity of 78.1 per cent. The water extract had the malaria parasite growth inhibition of 74.0 per cent.
In addition, another 2008 study documented in the journal African Health Sciences the potential use of bitter leaf in reversing chloroquine resistance when used as an adjuvant with chloroquine.Prevent toothache
Researchers in 2005 edition of the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines say that chewing the stem of Bitterleaf helps to prevent Gingivitis (a tooth-gum problem) and toothache due to its proven antimicrobial activity says. Whilst the bitter taste may make it unappealing to many people for everyday use, a person with embarrassing gingivitis or toothache may benefit from using it. Treat skin infections
Common skin diseases such as ringworm, eczema and others have been successfully treated with bitter leaf because of its antimicrobial effect.
In many communities, individuals squeeze and paste bitter leaf regularly on the affected portion of the skin, coupled with the drinking of the fresh bitter leaf juice. This clear the skin diseases in no time.Supports healthy liver
Bitter leaf protects the liver from drug induced damage. A study published in Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that Bitter leaf elicits protection against liver damage through its antioxidant (prevents cell death) activity on acetaminophen-induced hepatic damage in mice.Inhibits breast cancer
The results of a study by Professor Ernest B. Izevbigie suggest that Bitter leaf, if incorporated in the diet, can slow cancer growth and even kill cancer cells. Simply squeeze the flesh leaves in water and take a glassful four times daily.Hastening childbirth
The aqueous extract of Bitter leaf can help in inducing labour. Ugandan researchers studying the use of Bitter leaf herbal remedies in stimulating childbirth traditionally in rats found that the water extract of the plant showed marked rat uterine stimulation (oxytocic). This is an indication that Bitter leaf can hasten childbirth or cause abortion if used in preterm pregnancy.
In Malawi, ethnobotanical survey found that the dried bark of Bitter leaf is used to improve contractions of the womb during childbirth.As worm expeller
Wild chimpanzees in Tanzania eat bitterleaf to get rid of worms and other parasite diseases.Stop bleeding
Where there is no medical help, blood oozing from fresh wound can be stopped by squeezing fresh, green bitter leaves and dropping it on the wound.Protects prostate from damage
A study published in Health Inequalities Hub indicated that extract of bitter leaf can help to combat the adverse effects of diabetes on the testes of male rats.