Scientifically called Vernonia amygdalina, bitter-leaf is a shrub that can be grown in most places in Africa. It is quite tolerant and grows well in normal soil without needing fertilizers. The bitter-leaf has been around for ages and is used to cure and manage a wide variety of illness and diseases. Its major characteristic that discourages most people from using it is its bitter taste. It can be used as a vegetable in cooking if properly squeezed.
Bitter-leaf contains vitamins A, B1, B2, E and K, potassium, fatty acids and a good amount of fibre. The benefits derived from it are numerous, but some of these are:
1. Improving body immunity: Bitter-leaf contains a lot of antioxidants which helps to check oxidation in the body system, thereby strengthening the immune system’s ability to resist diseases.
2. Helping digestion: The good amount of fibre contained in bitter-leaf helps to maintain bowel movement, increase intestinal motility and aid digestion thereby assisting the body to get rid of waste products and cleanse the body.
3. Protects the heart: Bitterleaf contains essential polyunsaturated fatty acids like linoleic acid and linolenic acids which help in protecting the heart against cardiovascular diseases.
4. Detoxifies the blood: Consumption of bitter-leaf juice has been seen to detoxify the blood and rid it of dangerous toxins and free radicals. It helps to maintain normal blood circulation by countering certain parasites present in the blood.
5. Stops bleeding: In the absence of immediate medical help, the juice squeezed out from fresh bitter-leaf can be applied to the surface of a wound to stop the bleeding. Its antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties help to disinfect the wound until proper medical help is gotten.
6. Cures skin infections: The juice of bitter-leaf can be applied to the skin to eliminate skin infections such as eczema and rashes and heat irritation. The antibacterial nature of bitter-leaf helps to inhibit the actions of the organisms causing these infections.
7. Prevents diabetes: Bitterleaf contains andrographolide which helps to reduce the effects of excess sugar in the blood. Drinking of bitter-leaf juice can help to regulate blood sugar level thereby considerably preventing the risk of diabetes.