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18 Important Health Benefits Of Bitter Leaf: A miracle plant for everyone

The benefits of bitter leaf will amaze you, knowing what you have missed all this while by not taking bitter leaf.


Benefits of Bitter Leaf

What is bitter leaf?

Its binomial nomenclature (botanical name) is Vernonia amygdalina and it's common in tropical belts of Africa; English men call it bitter leaf due to its bitter taste while the Congolese call it Congo bololo.

 Across countries and regions, it bears different names and is very popular for its health and medicinal values.

Lovers of bitter leaf take it for different purposes; food, medicine, soap, and chewing stick. What are the health benefits of bitter leaf? let's find out.

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 Nutritional Value of Bitter Leaf

It has lots of nutrients to offer to our body. It is high in protein (33%) crude fiber (29%), ash (11%), fat (10%), and many minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, vitamins B1, B2, A, C, E It also contains phytate and low quantity tannins. It is also documented how some minute quantity of cyanide (about 1.1mg per kg)

 Benefits of Bitter Leaf

It contains steroids, coumarins, phenolic acids, xanthones, lignans, anthraquinone, sesquiterpenes, edotides, terpenes, saponins, and alkaloids as well.

 

Nutritionists and researchers over the years have studied the leaf extensively and confirmed many of the benefits it offers to health which will be the center of discussion in this article today.

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Benefits of bitter leaf to the human body.

 1. Antioxidant function

The leaves are rich in phenols, these phenols perform antioxidant functions. They prevent the formation of free radicals and high oxygen species and eliminate already formed ones, this function is useful in managing many chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, etc.

Flavonoid contents also contribute to the antioxidant function.

 2.  Endocrine Function

Grace Johnson, a renowned nutritionist confirmed the endocrine function of bitter leaf, according to her bitter leaf influences the endocrine system by balancing hormones, enhancing reproductive function, and ensuring a functional ovary making sure ovulation occurs in time.

 

nutritional value of bitter leaf

Bitter leaf is loaded with triterpenoids, flavonoids, glycosides, and antiviral compounds which help to lower blood sugar naturally. This means bitter leaf is good for diabetes because of its contents and not for its bitter taste.

 We all know the problem in diabetes isn’t necessarily because of the sweetness of sugar but because of the inability to produce insulin or the insensitivity of the body to insulin meaning insulin is present but not functioning.

 Despite what we know about bitter leaf reducing blood sugar, it is not enough to sustain you without your prescribed medication.

 3. Musculoskeletal system

Vitamin C and other antioxidants contained in bitter leaves help maintain the integrity of teeth and bones. Individuals with osteoporosis or at risk like the pre and post-menopausal women will benefit from the bone-strengthening ability of this great leaf. Also, people at risk of pathological fractures can take bitter leaves.

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4.  Management of hypertension

The potassium in it is very good for reducing blood pressure, by exchanging the sodium in the bloodstream for cellular potassium blood pressure control is achieved. We are aware that sodium drags water alongside and causes blood pressure to go up. We can conclude that this leaf is a herbal remedy for hypertension. It also helps in the reduction of cholesterol in the bloodstream and is a good preventive measure for cardiovascular accidents and heart attacks. Taking bitter leaves will help prevent cardiac disease.

 5.  Relieves Fever

It is known to have an antipyretic effect. Some evidence exists of its potency against malarial parasites.

 6.  Protective against prostate cancer

It contains antioxidants that help in the prevention of prostate cancers and other malignancies in general.

 7.  Helps with sleep and relaxation

Traditionalists have tried it on persons who have problems sleeping and achieved good results. It helped manage insomnia naturally.

 8.  Digestive system functions

It is high in fiber and has been utilized in managing digestive problems. It relieves abdominal pain, diarrhea, and amoebic Dysentry. It also enhances digestion and eliminates bloating when the juice is consumed.

 9. Skincare

It is very useful in the skincare industry, prevents aging by removing free radicals, ensures smooth skin, and prevents many skin problems. Some persons use the juice extract as a face wash for managing acne and getting a smoother face.

 10. Production of breast milk in lactating mothers

Intake of the bitter leaf during pregnancy prepares the breast for milk production and after birth, it ensures milk is produced in adequate quantity.

 11.  Aids childbirth by causing contraction:

It is uterotonic, there are reported cases of uterine contractions after ingestion of bitter leaf so it is advisable to eat bitter leaf with caution during pregnancy.

 12.  Antiparasitic function:

It has anti-parasite functions, individuals with schistosomiasis placed on waterleaf juice extract showed positive signs of cure and remission. Also, it has been used in managing amoebic dysentery and malarial.

 13. Detoxify the body:

It is rich in antioxidants that help remove toxins from the body after ingestion of bitter leaf.

14.  Weight loss

This is a natural way to shed some fat, the juice extract from bitter leave can cut down your LDL cholesterol and excess calories.

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 15.  Infections

Bitter leaf is a body cleansing leaf, it can help you get rid of infections in the skin (ringworm, eczema, rashes), liver, and kidney. It is known to have antibacterial properties and can serve as a natural antibiotic for various infective illnesses.

 Its efficacy has been studied and proven against staphylococcus aureus, escherichia Coli, and pseudomonas aeroginosa, it is able to do this by containing a phytochemical called ethanolic acid which makes these organisms and many others susceptible to it. 

A study by Evbuomwan et al on the antibacterial property of Bitter leaf in 2017 claims it was more potent to these organisms when compared to some conventional antibiotics. 

The study concluded that the antibacterial activity of bitter leaf is due to its phytochemical contents and urged the scientific community to do more research on the bitter leaf benefits and make concerted efforts to make it purer and useable by human body.

 16.  Reverses liver damage a documented study in the journal of food and nutrition sciences states that bitter leaf was able to reverse paracetamol-induced liver damage. 

Similar studies have shown the potency of bitter leaf phytochemicals in reversing fatty liver. Traditionally bitter leaf has been used to prevent fatty liver development.

 17. Prevent kidney disease, Nigerian scientists have demonstrated how bitter leaf can help prevent renal damage; of importance is the recovery of kidneys from damages occasioned by phenylhydrazine after bitter leaf therapy. 

These scientists came to the conclusion that bitter leaf was nephroprotective. kidney stones resolutions have been noted as well after taking the prescribed herbal dose of bitter leaf.

 18. Antimalarial, a study by Erasto et al 2007 confirmed the efficacy of bitter leaf extract for treating malarial. In this study, they confirmed the antioxidant, antispasmodic, and immune-modulating activities of bitter leaf.

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 Side effects of Bitter Leaf

The discussion isn’t complete without considering the side effects. Most of this will come from excess intake of heavy metals like zinc which can contaminate the leaf. 
Below are some of the side effects of bitter leaf.

 1. bitter leaf benefits and side effectsVascular shock

2. Vomiting

3. Diarrhea

4. Hypertension

5.  Loss of Appetite

6. Headache

7. Glucose imbalance

8. Damage to the pancreas

9. Damage to liver parenchyma

 Conclusion:

The health benefits of bitter leaf are so many and are quite commendable, it gives us many reasons to add bitter leaf to our diet. Also, it has a few side effects which should be taken note of in case our body fails to tolerate bitter so we can promptly stop taking them. Despite the many benefits ascribed to it, it is not a replacement for our prescribed medications for various ailments.

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