A bitter leaf also known as Vernonia amygdalin is a medicinal plant from the Acanthaceae family.
It has a bitter taste and is mostly used by Africans in preparing bitter leaf soup, tea, bitter leaf juice, and herbal medicine.
The health benefits of bitter leaf juice are many because of its phytochemical and bioactive components.
Vernonia amygdalin has antidiabetic property, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti-malaria, haematological, liver protective effects and other beneficial effects you will know as you read this article.
Health benefits of bitter leaf
1. Bitter leaves and diabetics:
Aqueous extracts from better leaf plants have shown anti-diabetic effects, the ability to reduce blood sugar level (hypoglycaemic), the ability to reduce blood clots (antithrombotic) and the ability to reduce cholesterol levels.
The study showed a reversal in the serum, and the blood sugar levels of a diabetic rat after consuming the extracts for 14 days.
However, more studies are needed to confirm the claim. (3)
2. Bitter Leaf Juice and Infertility
Bitter leaf juice and tea helps in reducing the estrogen level in the blood. A high level of estrogen in the body prevents ovulation, causing infertility.
Extracts from a bitter leaf, balance the progesterone, and estrogen levels, hence improving ovulation and fertility.
Studies on the fertility effect of bitter leaf extracts on male Wistar rats showed an increase in sperm concentration, percentage motility, percentage morphology, and a decrease in the level of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) when 50 to 200 mg of the extract was administered for 30 days.
However, an increase in dosage administration above 200 mg for 60 days was harmful.
There was a great decrease in sperm concentration, motility, normal morphology, percentage number of live sperm, and a decrease in the number of healthy sperm.
The study warns against taking over 200 mg of the extracts for a long time as it may cause infertility. (4)
Bitter leaf juice for weight loss
Bitter leaf juice plays a vital role in weight loss. It helps break down excess fats in the body. It also contains fibre which makes you feel satisfied while eating. This satiety act helps in reducing body weight.
3. Effects of Bitter Leaf on the Liver
Extracts from Vernonia amygdalin have been used to prevent kidney and liver damage in albino rats and mice, this is because of their antioxidant properties.
In a study to access the liver protective effect of bitter leaf extracts to carbon tetrachloride (CCL4) induced hepatotoxicity and oxidative stress in albino rats.
Rats injected with CCL4 had a significant reduction in kidney and liver performance.
However, the administration of bitter leaf extracts on the affected rats reversed the hepatic damage. (5)
4. Effective in Treating Respiratory Tract Infections
Respiratory tract infections are ailments that affect the lungs or respiratory tracks.
They are caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Bitter leaf water has antimicrobial effects that help trash out all respiratory tract infections.
5. A cure for malaria and cold
Bitter leaf tea has been known for decades as a remedy for malaria, cold and catarrh. The antimicrobial compounds in them prevent the growth and development of any microorganism.
6. Lowers Hypertension
Bitter leaf extracts are fortified with potassium and alkaloids. The high level of potassium in bitter leaves helps in lowering blood pressure.
Meanwhile, the phytochemical compounds of the extracts strengthen the immune system to produce more white blood cells for body defence.
7. Bitter leaf and pregnancy
Using bitter leaf extract during the second week of pregnancy comes with some side effects.
According to the studies, female Wistar rats fed with 400 mg of bitter leaf for 7 days, had a decrease in the body and brain weight of their offspring when compared with the control group.
The study warns against using the vegetable extract in the second week of pregnancy. (6)
8. Bitter Leaves and Cancer
Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
Although several emphasises on early detection and treatment have decreased the mortality rate, there is still room for improvement.
Using bitter leaf extract for cancer treatment has shown an impressive result.
In a study to access its anti-cancer effect on MCF-7 cancer cells, a concentration of 250-1000 ug/ml was seen to be effective within 48 hours.
The study recommends the use of extracts to treat breast cancer. (7)
9. A remedy for stomach ache
Bitter leaf is used to treat stomach problems because of its bitterness. Squiz the leaves or stems to extract the juice. Add a little salt to the undiluted juice and drink. This will stop the ache within a few seconds.
Health Benefits Of Bitter Leaf And Scent Leaf Juice
The combination of bitter leaf and scent leaves juice gives an excellent result in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Below are some of their health benefits.
- Used in Treatment of Diabetes
- Aid in the treatment of diarrhoea
- Help with gastrointestinal disorder treatment
- Fight against hypertension
- It helps in food digestion
- Help fight off cancer
- Contains lots of antioxidants
- Excellent immune booster
- Ideal for weight loss
- Cold reliever
- Relieves abdominal pain
Bitter Leaf Side Effects
Bitter leaf is safe to consume provided you do not overdose on it. some side effects that may arise from an overdose or those allergic to it are
- Loss of appetite
- Runny nose
Nutritional composition of Bitter Leaf vegetables
A bitter leaf plant contains both phytochemical and bioactive compounds. They include
Alkaloids 2.16 g
Ascorbic acid 5.1mg
Cyanogenic glycoside 1.11
Dietary Fibre 1.5g
Flavonoid 4.89 g
Manganese 710. 0 mg
Zinc 85.0mg (2)