Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) has been a strong source of African traditional medicine, most especially in the west. It is also known as Ewuro in western Nigeria, Onugbu in eastern Nigeria, and Ganye mai daci in the north. Just as the name implies, this leaf is known for its extreme bitterness, and its ability to tackle many illnesses.
The leaves can be eaten raw, squeezed to extract the juice as a drink, or mixed with other medicinal flowers and herbs depending on your preference. Either way, it still fulfils its purpose.
The leaf has been proven to possess antibacterial and antifungal properties and, historically, it has been used to treat many ailments. These include malaria, typhoid, diabetes, diarrhea, tuberculosis, gallstones, and kidney disease, although this cannot be scientifically proven or backed.
6 HEALTH BENEFITS OF BITTER LEAF
1. Relieves Stomach Aches
Whatever the cause of the stomach ache, bitter leaf is a known traditional remedy for stomach upsets. According to a study in the Toxicology Reports journal, the plant may provide some protection from stomach ulcers. This is because bitter leaf contains some strong antioxidants which contribute positively to the gastric effect.
2. Relieve Insomnia
While some people fall asleep as soon as they hit the pillow, others may find this impossible to achieve. Insomnia can range from an occasional inconvenience to a debilitating condition. Bitter leaf has traditionally been used to help with insomnia. Drinking a bitter leaf solution at night, before bed, is thought to bring on a calmness and relaxation that aids sleep.
3. Enhance Fertility
According to a study in the International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine , bitter leaf plant may have a positive effect on sperm quality. The high levels of vitamins and minerals in bitter leaf are beneficial to overall health, so will be beneficial to a couple trying to conceive.
4. Helps Relieve Fever
Bitter leaf contains flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant effects. This can help with treating a variety of health issues such as a high fever. In particular, bitter leaf was historically used in traditional medicine for the treatment of the bacterial infection typhoid fever.
5. Improve Metabolic Function
Vitamin B1, which is also known as thiamine, plays a significant role in the metabolism of lipids, amino acids and glucose in the human body. Thiamine is an important dietary supplement occurring naturally in bitter leaf that helps to oxidize fatty acids in order to produce the synthesis of lipids, which is one of the body’s essential processes.
6. May Be Preventative Against Prostate Cancer
This type of cancer is a relatively common cancer especially amongst older men. While following the treatments prescribed by a medical professional are essential for successful treatment of prostate cancer, bitter leaf has shown promise in the prevention of the disease by a study in the Nutrients journal . The same research also noted that the plant may improve survival rates.
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