By Saidat Nassali………Bitter leaf, scientifically called vernonia amygdalina and locally known as omululuza has been famed for curing a number of conditions.
It is a shrub or small tree that can reach 23 feet in height when fully grown; has a grey or brown coloured bark, which has a rough texture and is flaked. The herb is an indigenous plant, which grows in most parts of sub-Sahara Africa.
It’s of great importance in human diet because of the presence of vitamins and mineral salts – a long time medicinal for stomache that helps in the management of malaria symptoms.
Facts on what it cures and how it can be consumed;
For traditional purposes
Bitter leaf is often consumed by chewing the tender stem to release a bitter liquid; alternatively one can pound the fresh leaves in a motar and to press out the juice, add a pinch of salt of up to three tablespoons of the undiluted liquid and drink.
The bitter taste is bearable because of the following health benefits;
– It is good for bones and teeth
Vitamin c is a great antioxidant mineral found in bitter leaf, which plays a vital role in the body including the maintenance of bones and teeth.
It also contains traces of vitamin k, which helps the body in maintaining healthy bones and prevents the weakening of bone tissue, also known as osteoporosis.
– It helps fight free radicals
Another nutrient in bitter leaf is vitamin E, which serves as an antioxidant that fights against free radicals that have harmful effects on the body system.
– It may help protect against prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a relatively common, especially amongst older men. While following the treatment prescribed biomedical professional are essential for successful treatment of prostate cancer, bitter leaf has grown promise in the prevention of the disease by study in the nutrients journal. The same research shows that the plant may improve survival rates as well.
– Improves metabolic function
Vitamin B1 also known as thiamine plays an important role in the metabolism of lipids, amino acids and glucose in the human body. Thiamine is an important dietary supplement occurring naturally in a 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.
– The plant may enhance fertility
A study in the international journal of reproductive biomedicine has shown that the plant may have a positive effect on sperm quality. All in all, the generally high levels of vitamins and minerals in bitter leaf are beneficial to a couple trying to conceive.
– It has properties that may aid in diabetes
Research published in the international journal of biological and chemical sciences demonstrates that the presence of phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, ash and other components are thought to act together to lower blood sugar levels.
– It also helps to get rid of fever.
A study in toxicology reports journal, has also shown that the plant may provide some protection from stomach ulcers. It is thought that the antioxidants in bitter leaf contribute to these positive gastric effects.