To many people around the world bitter leaf is relatively unknown. However, the health benefits of bitter leaf are numerous and can be considered unique in the sense that not many other natural herbal remedies possess the same. Excited to learn more about bitter leaf? Then let’s check out what all the hype is about.
What Is Bitter Leaf?
Bitter leaf, known binomially as Vernonia amygdalina is a shrub that belongs to the daisy family, related to the many small flowering plants of that variety. Depending on where you live, bitter leaf is also known as many other things with the majority of its names originating in various African languages. A few of these names include grawa, ewuro and olusia. It is found most abundantly growing throughout tropical parts of Africa.
It is commonly made into teas, juice or chewed upon raw. It possesses a range of flavonoids, alkaloids, terpenes and more which imbue it with interesting properties.
Bitter Leaf Nutrition
Bitter leaf contains vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2 and minerals such as zinc, manganese, iron, potassium, and calcium.
11 Amazing Benefits of Bitter Leaf
1. Stimulates Uterine Contractions
A long time before advanced medical practice and medications were readily available, bitter leaf was one herb that was used to help assist women with childbearing, especially if difficulty was being encountered. It possesses uterine stimulatory properties which help to propel the child along the uterine and subsequently vaginal tract. It also helps with removing the placenta (after birth) to minimize the risk of infections occurring.
This benefit has also found its way into illicit use, such as to facilitate abortions.
2. Natural Fever Reducer
Bitter leaf has also been used traditionally for management of fever, especially in poorer countries with lack of access to essential medications such as the anti-pyretics. Fever can be lethal in babies where it can lead to irreversible brain damage or more, making the bitter leaf indispensable as a life saver. Its anti-pyretic actions are due to the presence of several flavonoid compounds that help to reduce central temperature regulation.
3. Natural Anti-Parasitic Actions
Digestive parasites may lay inconspicuously for years while they slowly leach nutrients from their host, gradually leading to a state of chronic malnutrition. This is why it is important to regularly schedule anti-parasitic treatment, or if unavailable, to take advantage of natural alternatives such as bitter leaf. Its anti-parasitic actions target both adult and larval stages of parasites making it a great comprehensive treatment option for people that cannot afford conventional medicine or where clinics may not be present.
4. Helps Reduce Cancer Risk
Bitter leaf is interesting in the sense that it can help to reduce your risk and treat cancers, though it is best employed early after detection. Bitter leaf is a melting pot of natural compounds which exert anti-oxidant and tumor suppressing actions, which enhance the immune system’s natural cancer treatment functions. While more studies definitely need to be undertaken to confirm with 100% certainty its potential in treating cancer on a larger scale, natives of areas where it can be found abundantly growing swear by its efficacy. Until that time, do not rely heavily on using it or attempt self-management of your cancer.
5. Supports Breast Milk Production
Bitter leaf appears to be a mother’s best friend, since in addition to helping get the baby out, it also stimulates the natural production of breast milk. Its galactagogue properties are especially useful to new mothers who may experience difficulty with lactating for the first time.
6. Assists With Blood Glucose Management
In an ironic twist of fate, it seems like natural products with bitter in their names (bitter gourd anyone?) are exceptional in helping you to deal with diabetes or conditions marred by poor blood glucose control. Regular consumption of bitter leaf can reduce fasting and post-prandial blood glucose measurements, which are good indicators of management. It is also believed to help kick start sluggish insulin synthesis and can improve insulin tolerance so that your body takes care of glucose more efficiently.
7. Enhances Metabolic Rate
It is well-poised to help you with your quest to achieve weight loss as well, since many of its traits tie in to lowering body mass. For instance, bitter leaf can help to suppress your appetite, which equates to reduced caloric intake over the course of the day, plus there is the fact that it assists with blood glucose management which facilitates enhanced fat utilization.
Then there is the fact that it assists with increasing caloric expenditure so that you burn more calories even while doing absolutely nothing. Keep in mind that your metabolic rate is not merely the burning of calories, but the overall efficacy at which it makes use of the food you eat. Supporting blood glucose control and enhancing fat usage all tie into a better metabolic rate.
8. Helps Prevent Constipation
It is an effective natural remedy for dealing with occasional constipation, with a juice made from the leaves best suited for this purpose. We do not advise using bitter leaf for an extended period of time or for chronic constipation as you are also consuming a range of other flavonoid and compounds that may inadvertently have unwanted effects if consumed indefinitely.
9. Natural Blood Pressure Support
Bitter leaf juice or leaves consumed raw can help with management of blood pressure levels as well, since the plant contains a good amount of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte mineral that plays roles in balancing salt and water concentration in blood and extra cellular fluid, but also possesses vasodilatory properties. It can help regulate blood vessels flexibility in response to changes in blood volume.
10. Enhances Detoxification
It is helpful in the detoxification of the kidneys and liver, the main organs which facilitate the removal of waste material by the body. Under stressful conditions enzymes produced by these organs may become elevated in turn leading to inflammatory processes. Bitter leaf assists with homeostasis of these organs and can support their optimal functioning.
Bitter leaf has also been used traditionally for management of kidney stones as it promotes urinary flow and diuresis. It can also prevent the development of fatty liver disease which may impair normal processes by this organ.
11. Soothes Skin Ailments
Owing to the many traits of bitter leaf, it isn’t surprising to discover that many of these trickle down and can be used to help assist with management of skin conditions. For instance, consumption and localized applications of bitter leaf made into a paste can soothe eczematous rashes, reduce psoriatic flare-ups, and can even help to prevent infections of deep wounds.
The leaves contain a small amount of vitamin E as well, which can support moisture retention by the skin and are a favorite by women living in regions where it is native.
Bitter leaf is unlikely to become as popular as some of the other herbal remedies already popular in the United States and other Western countries, but now that you know more about it you are well-poised to take advantage of its healing properties. It is a definitely beneficial to our health and can be a refreshing alternative if you are doubtful of the safety offered by synthetic medications.