Bitter leaf is a plant that grows in Tropical Africa, especially in West Africa.
The leaves are green, broad, ovate, and spirally arranged on branches.
These leaves are widely used either as vegetables or mixed with other vegetables for cooking.
Before you can use bitter leaves as vegetables, you will need to wash them twice with several changes of water.
Bitter leaf is used as a traditional medicine, as it possesses many health benefits.
In this post, we will look at the scientific name, health benefits and side effects of bitter leaf, with the illnesses it can cure as well.
What is the Scientific Name of Bitter Leaf?
The scientific name for bitter leaf is Vernonia amygdalina, a member of the Asteraceae family.
It got its English name because of the bitter taste it possesses.
The bitterness can be removed either by boiling it or by washing it twice with several changes of water.
What are the Health Benefits of Bitter Leaf?
Here are the health benefits of the bitter leaf:
1. Enhances Metabolism
Bitter leaves can aid metabolism.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) contained in bitter leaves is essential for the body’s lipids, glucose metabolism, and amino acid.
Thiamine plays a huge role in energy production as it helps our body convert carbohydrates to energy and keeps the healthy functions of our brain and nervous system.
2. Detoxifies the body
Bitter leaf has high antioxidants and detoxifying abilities that can help resist fat build-up in the liver and prevent fatty infections.
Bitter leaf extract is equally used to cleanse the lungs and liver, helping to prevent stomach stones and rid the stomach of harmful bacteria.
3. Improves Sperm Quality
Scientifically, bitter leaf extract contains antioxidants, flavonoids, and vitamin B1, which may help to maintain sperm shape and survival, functionality, and quality.
It also boosts glucose metabolism, resulting in creating pyruvate, essential for sperm cell activity and survival.
4. Postnatal Care
Breastfeeding mothers are advised to take bitter-leaf soup because it is believed to stimulate the natural production of breast milk.
Bitter leaves contain galactagogue properties beneficial to new mothers experiencing difficulty with lactating for the first time.
5. Women Fertility Improvement
Bitter leaf is very effective in women’s reproductive lives because it balances genital hormones.
Chemical compounds like Edotides in bitter leaves help balance the hormones and boost your immune system to help fight toxification.
Once your hormones are balanced, your fertility chance is increased.
6. Protection against Prostate Cancer
Andrographolide compound, proven scientifically effective in treating gastric cancer, prostate cancers, and colon, is also present in the bitter leaf.
Bitter leaf extract has been shown by research to be effective in preventing the development of cancer cells.
7. Blood Cholesterol Levels Regulation
Regular bitter leaf intake helps regulate cholesterol levels in the blood, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
8. Teeth and Bones Health
Vitamin C, essential in maintaining healthy teeth and bones, is one powerful antioxidant in bitter leaves.
Therefore, it is vital to our bodies.
Vitamin K, which helps to make various proteins needed for blood clotting and building bones, is also contained in bitter leaves, among other vitamins and minerals.
9. Helps in Weight Loss
Bitter leaf has antioxidants and inflammatory qualities that help reduce the storage of fat in the body.
Drinking bitter leaf juice or eating a few leaves daily helps reduce excess calories, which causes weight gain.
Bitter leaves suppress your appetite, which results in reduced caloric intake.
10. Prevents Risk of Diabetes
Bitter leaves contain compounds that help lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, regulate insulin levels, and improve the ability of the body to store glucose.
A scientific comparison of neem and bitter leaf has shown that bitter leaf extract is a better anti-diabetic agent.
What Can Bitter Leaf Cure?
Bitter leaf can cure these illnesses:
The bitter leaf contains compounds that can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
If you have difficulty sleeping, taking a glass of bitter leaf extract before bed can help increase both the quality of your sleep and the time spent in deep sleep.
2. Malaria and Fever
Bitter leaves have always been used traditionally to cure fever.
This is because they are rich in several flavonoid compounds with potent antioxidants.
These properties can cure health issues such as malaria and fever.
3. Treatment of Abdominal Issues
Bitter leaf is a powerful natural remedy for relieving abdominal issues like stomach upset, dysentery, and diarrhea.
Research has shown that bitter leaves contain compounds that help in digestion.
Drinking a cup or two of bitter leaf extract is very effective in bringing relief to your stomach issues.
Bitter leaf extract is very effective in clearing up and decongesting the chest from cough and catarrh.
Chew bitter leaf at night before bed for three days or more to relieve cough and catarrh.
5. Skin Infections
Bitter leaf is very effective in the treatment of skin infections such as ringworm and skin rashes.
To use the bitter leaf as medication for skin infections, extract the juice and apply it on the affected area.
Do this once daily, repeatedly.
If you feel tired, taking the bitter leaf extract with a pinch of salt will help you instantly regain energy.
Side Effects of Bitter Leaf
There could be side effects of bitter leaf extract such as serious heart troubles, blood pressure, and an increase in glucose levels in the body.
Talk to your doctor before using bitter leaf if you have any medical conditions.
It is also advised to keep bitter leaves out of reach of children and allergic persons.
Can I Drink Bitter Leaf Water?
Intake of bitter leaf extract helps aid metabolism, increases the quality of your sleep and time spent in deep sleep, among other benefits.
Therefore, you can drink bitter leaf juice.
For generations, the bitter leaf has been used in traditional healing practices.
From treating minor illnesses like rashes, cough, catarrh, and insomnia to helping in more critical conditions like cancers and diabetes.
Bitter leaf can be used for treating skin wounds, mouth inflammation, toothache, ear inflammation, respiratory tract diseases, tuberculosis, and typhoid.
Bitter leaf is a natural remedy that can improve overall health and well-being.
Thus, including bitter leaves in your diet is a favor you would like to do yourself.