The herb commonly known as the bitter leaf is a small tree that can grow up to 5 m. The perennial tree grows in countries with a tropical climate, mainly in Africa. The tree has brown or gray bark with a rough texture. It has veined green leaves with an oblong shape and fine, soft hair at the bottom. It grows wildly outside, as in a wasteland, on the roadsides, in the fields or even in the forest. People also grow the plant in their garden for the household’s medicinal needs. Read on and learn more about the benefits of bitter leaf, so that you get many benefits in favor of comprehensive health care.
The genus Vernonia consists of hundreds of species. But usually when people talk about the bitter leaf, it refers to Vernonia amygdalina, Vernonia colorata and Vernonia calvoana. These species grow widely and are traditionally consumed in many parts of West and Central Africa. The leaf has a unique flavor: bitter and sweet. Despite its bitterness, many people consume the leaf due to its medicinal and nutritional benefits. Some African countries even export dried Vernonia amygdala leaves to other continents for their restorative quality. Traditionally, people in Africa have been using the leaves to treat a number of ailments due to their nutritional values and therapeutic properties.
Bitter Leaf Benefits:
1. Reduce Cholesterol Level:
The cholesterol level is one of the most important health indicators in the human body. When our cholesterol level rises, we run the risk of having many health problems, especially strokes, heart attacks and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, to stay healthy, bad cholesterol levels should be reduced. One of the effective ways to prevent the elevation of bad cholesterols is to consume bitter leaves. The February 2008 edition of the “Journal of Vascular Health and Risk Management” had a report on how bitter leaf can level bad and total cholesterol in our body. Using animal subjects for the experiment, researchers who participated in the study found that bitter leaf extract reduced the level of LDL cholesterol by 50%. At the same time, the level of HDL or good cholesterol also increased. No similar studies have been conducted in humans. However, the study suggested that it most likely provides a similar effect in humans.
2. Contains Powerful Antioxidants:
Human cells are always under the threat and constant attack of dangerous free radicals. The process of oxygen metabolism produces free radicals as an excess of product. These free radicals interact with the molecules of our cells, causing damage to nearby stress and DNA. Free radicals can be useful for your body in a small amount, but if the amount is not controlled, it becomes a dangerous problem. It can cause fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss, headaches, vision problems, wrinkles and, in the long term, numerous serious health conditions. Because of this, we need other substances that can fight free radicals, known as antioxidants. This free radical nemesis can easily be found in abundance in bitter leaves. As reported in the December 2006 issue of the journal “Food Chemistry”, the antioxidant properties of a bitter leaf can be used by humans to combat the oxidation process and the danger of free radicals. When you join the diet, this will also improve your health and protect your body against various dangerous diseases.
3. It is a Rich Source of Fatty Acids:
Fatty acids are abundantly present in the benefits of the bitter leaf, including linoleic acids and linolenic acids. Both fatty acids are not produced by our body. However, both fulfill important functions to boost our health. Due to our body’s inability to produce these fatty acids, we need to get the fatty acids from our diet. According to the study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in November 2001, these two fatty acids have a protective characteristic against cardiovascular diseases. When taken regularly as part of the diet, fatty acids can prevent various health problems. Research subjects who took the highest amount of linoleic and linoleic fatty acids have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease by about 40%. On the contrary, those who took the least amount and frequency of both fatty acids are at greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
4. Cure the Common Flu:
Some researchers have shown that the bitter leaf extract combined with Siberian ginseng serves as a good herbal remedy to treat the common flu. The concoction should be taken within the first 72 hours of the infection for it to work. In about two to three days, all the common symptoms of the flu, including sneezing, headache and runny nose, will disappear as the energy level returns to normal. Some studies also showed that bitter leaf extract and Siberian ginseng is also very effective in the treatment of the common cold in children. This effectiveness is mainly due to the antimicrobial properties and vitamin C in the extract that can improve the body’s immune system against diseases and eradicate viruses at the same time. The concoction can also warm the body and prevent the cold from happening. When you start feeling sick, you should drink the bitter leaf mixture to prevent flu or other related diseases.
5. Prevents Diabetes:
A bitter leaf contains a generous amount of andrographolide, the compounds that are effective in reducing blood glucose levels. According to the study by researchers at Gajah Mada University in 2004, drinking boiled bitter leaf water can reduce the level of glucose in male rats as animal subjects. While the research was not conducted on the human issue, this research is positive. Another animal test also confirmed this quality. Some African researchers from the Bandung Institute of Technology conducted an experiment with rabbits for the same subject.
“The researchers found that andrografolide in bitter leaf extract has a hypoglycemic effect or the ability to reduce the level of blood sugar”.
One of the possible benefits of this characteristic is the ability to prevent and treat diabetes mellitus. The disease characterized by high blood sugar due to lack of insulin can be treated by regularly drinking the bitter leaf mixture. In addition to drinking the concoction, you should also consume many fibrous fruits and vegetables, maintain a physically active life and quit smoking because it negatively affects the absorption of glucose in the cells.
6. Treat Dysentery:
The bitter leaf mixture can also be an effective herbal remedy to treat dysentery. Dysentery is a disease in which inflammation occurs in the colon. Symptoms are stomach cramps along with severe diarrhea and blood or mucus in the stool. While hydration is fatal, the remedy is also urgently required. The benefits of bitter leaf offer a powerful ability to treat dysentery. To obtain the corrective property of the leaves, you must crush some dried bitter leaves and put them in boiling water. Then, turn off the stove and filter the mixture before drinking the water. You should consume the herbal drink three times a day: in the morning, in the afternoon and at night.
7. Prevents Breast Cancer:
Breast cancer is a threat to many women around the world. In the United States alone, BreastCancer.org estimates that no less than 10% of omen will suffer at least one form of breast cancer at some time in their lives. The risk of breast cancer can be reduced if a healthy lifestyle is maintained, which includes regular exercise, adopting a low-fat green diet and maintaining a weight balance. To equip yourself with a better weapon against breast cancer, consume bitter leaves regularly. The antioxidant properties present in the leaf can fight cancer cells and inhibit their growth. The study by some scientists at Jackson State University managed to demonstrate this wonderful quality of bitter leaves. The researchers conducted a test tube study on the effect of bitter leaf extract on human breast cancer cells. According to the study published in the February 2004 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, it can be concluded that bitter leaf can inhibit the growth and spread of human breast cancer cells.
8. Prevents Other Types of Cancer:
In addition to breast cancer, the benefits of bitter leaf also work effectively as a cure for other types of cancer. Andrografolide compounds that are present in the bitter leaf can inhibit the growth and development of cancer and tumor cells. The anticancer properties in the bitter leaf are revealed through several studies. In one of the studies, the leaf has proven effective in the fight against lymphocytes attacked by leukemia. A study by some Japanese researchers found that bitter leaves can stop the activities of gastric cancer cells. It does this by preventing and altering the synthetic process of cancer cell DNAs. It is also very easy to use bitter leaves as aherbal remedy to treat cancer. You just have to prepare fresh bitter leaves and boil them with water. Once the mixture is warm or cold enough, drink it at once. Drink the concoction two or three times a day while continuing the treatment as prescribed by your doctor.
9. Relieves the Headache:
The benefits of bitter leaf are also very effective in treating a headache, including the types of headache caused by the flu and fever. To get the benefit, make a mixture of bitter leaves by crushing a handful of bitter leaves and mixing them with water. Boil the tea and drink it as once it cools.
10. Prevents Malaria:
Malaria is an infection caused by the Plasmodium parasite that is transported to the blood by mosquito bites. Plasmodium is commonly found in tropical countries, therefore, in many tropical countries, suffering from malaria remains a risk. Malaria is a dangerous disease that potentially causes deaths. Fortunately, bitter leaves can be an effective herbal treatment for infection. One of the active substances present in the leaf is andrografolida. Andrografolide is known for its antiparasitic property. According to some studies, the substance is an active ingredient that inhibits the growth of the parasite and, therefore, can be extracted for malaria medication. Andrographolide achieves this result by disrupting the Plasmodium defense system and preventing its development. As the parasite’s immune system descends, the oxidative process is affected and the parasite is easily destroyed. However, the scientific world has not concluded the appropriate method and dose for the treatment of malaria using bitter leaf extract. Therefore, you should never use it as a primary treatment, unless you cannot get access to the medications prescribed by the doctor.
11. Treat Typhus:
Worldwide, there are at least 26.9 million cases of typhoid fever reported annually. Diseases generally take about 200,000 deaths. Typhoid fever is an infection of the Salmonella typhimurium bacteria that is transmitted from one human to another. The bacteria enter the human body system through feces or infected food and drinks. The bacteria enter the human body first through the mouth and then travel to the intestine and bloodstream. This is where it gets dangerous. Typhi spreads to other organs and tissues without much defense by the human immune system because bacteria can live inside the host cells safely. High fever and stomach ache are the main symptoms of the infection. If typhoid patients do not receive adequate treatment, they will be at risk of death because the bacteria kill 25 percent of those infected. However, when treated early, it will be eradicated successfully. Antibiotics are usually prescribed by doctors to eliminate the bacteria. During this period, the mixture of bitter leaves or bitter leaf supplements in other forms can also be taken to accelerate healing. Andrografolide, tannin, flavonoid and saponin have antibacterial properties that will be a good help to eliminate bacteria.
12. Reduce High Blood Pressure:
Hypertension is also a disease that affects many people in the world. Avoiding this common disease is not an easy task, however, the disease represents a danger when not treated properly. Prolonged and untreated hypertension will cause some complicated problems, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, blurred vision and even death. Doctors usually prescribe drugs such as diuretics, beta blockers or calcium channel blockers to their patients with hypertension. However, these chemical medications are not the only treatment for hypertension. There are several herbal alternatives for people suffering from hypertension and one of the effective herbal ingredients is bitter leaf. Bitter leaves can prevent and treat hypertension because they contain a large amount of potassium that can stimulate salt secretion from the body. In addition, the leaf also contains very fewsodium, which is supposedly responsible for the increase in blood pressure. In addition, potassium in the bitter leaf will dilate the arteries and prevent arteriosclerosis. As a result, it also relieves blood flow and stabilizes high blood pressure.
13. Improves the Immune System:
Another benefit of the bitter leaf is the ability to boost your immune system. Our immune system is our best defense against infections and diseases that threaten our health. When your immune system weakens, you are under the threat of many contagious diseases. Fortunately, drinking bitter leaf tea or drinking bitter leaf extract can give your immune system a significant boost. In fact, it is actually the reason behind the popularity of bitter leaf tea as an herbal drink in some parts of the world.
14. Treat Hyperuricemia:
Hyperuricemia is the condition when uric acid in the blood is abnormally high. Typically, this abnormal condition manifests itself in gout, such as monoarthritis in the big toe, knee and joints. It can also trigger a form of hematuria, which is a pain felt in the area of the abdomen, flank or inguinal region accompanied by nausea. Chronic pain can interrupt activities and sleep. To treat the disease, you must plan and follow a proper diet. It is also recommended to incorporate bitter leaves in the daily diet of patients to help treatment. Ketones, aldehydes and flavonoids in bitter leaves will neutralize the level of uric acid and eliminate symptoms.
15. Promotes Healthy Skin:
Some substances in the benefits of bitter leaf are natural antibacterial agents that will eliminate the bacteria that cause inflammation in the skin when acnes occur. In addition, these substances also have antioxidant properties that naturally fight free radicals that accelerate the aging process. Drinking bitter leaf tea will keep wrinkles and sunspots at bay. Your skin tissue will rejuvenate and look younger and healthier.