The history of Bitter-leaf, vernonia amydalina, and its health benefits are still scraping the surface across the world.

However, it is a very common plant amongst African Cultures. Wherever it grows, surely it flourishes.

African History

Historic African Lady

The Igbos call it Onugbu.  The Yorubas call it Ewuro.  The Hausas call it Shiwaka.The Igbos of Eastern Nigeria use the bitter-leaf mostly as a vegetable, while the Yorubas use it more as a medicine.

The Igbos of Eastern Nigeria use the bitter-leaf mostly as a vegetable, while the Yorubas use it more as a medicine. 

Historic Yoruba Man

Bitter-leaf is popular among the old people for its bitterness. But the young people of today do not like the bitterness of the bitter-leaf. They would rather prefer biscuits, ice cream, chocolate and other sugary products.

Igbo people eat a lot of bitter leaf. But they often squeeze out the bitterness from the leaves before eating it. What is left then, is mere chaff, with little or no medicinal value. 

Always remember that raw vegetables are better than cooked ones. And half-cooked vegetables are better than over- cooked ones. 

History of Benefits

Bitter herbs are good for the body. Bitter herbs help to tone the vital organs of the body, especially the liver and kidney. 

The liver is the largest organ of the body.  It weights between 1-3 kg in the adult.  Its major functions are (a) secretion of bile and (b) formation of glycogen.  The liver is essential in the metabolism of fats and protein. Having said, its import to take great care of this organ.

The kidney is the organ that helps to expel waste materials from the body.  It secretes urine that flows into the urethras. If the kidney breaks down, there will be a general disorder in the body. 

Now that we are in the chemical and fertilizer age, it is indeed difficult to find fruits and herbs in their natural state as majority of them have been polluted with fertilizer chemicals.

In that case, the emphasis should be in the promotion of organic farming, and natural medicine.

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For centuries, bitter-leaf has been a source of health and vitality to our ancestors, and its medicinal values are well-documented.

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