Everybody seems to know it. It grows everywhere. Bitter-leaf, vernomia amydaline, is a very homely plant. Wherever it grows, it flourishes.

Ever green. The Igbos call it shiwaka. Perhaps the most distinctive part of the bitter-leaf plant is its bitterness. Every part of the plant is bitter. The leaves, stem, root and bark.

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

Bitter-leaf is popular among the old people for its bitterness. One fact is that bitter herbs are good for the body, on the exosteritial level, they remind us that life is not always sweet.

Sweetness and bitterness are essential parts of life and so are not opposed. 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 weight between 1-3kg in the adult. Its major functions are:

  • Secretion of bile and
  • Formation of glycogen.

The liver is essential in the metabolism of fats and protein. It must therefore be well taken care of.

Once the liver has any defect, it is hard to correct. Every effort must be made therefore to keep the liver in good condition.

Alcohol, sugar and processed or refined foods can weaken the liver and make it susceptible to infections.

The kidney is another important organ in the body. 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. Bitter-leaf is very useful in the care of the kidney and the liver.

It is for this reason that we refer to bitter leaf as a cure-all, for if the kidney and liver are healthy, the whole system will function well.

bitter leaf juice
bitter leaf vegetable

The bitter-leaf plant contains verbodalin, venomygdin and saponia. Bitter leaves should always taken fresh.

Boiling or cooking reduces the potency of most herbs. Many people eat 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 medical value. Always remember that raw vegetables are better than over-cooked ones.


  1. Stomach ache: Chew the tender stem of the plant like a chewing stick and swallow the bitterness. This is a well-known remedy for stomach ache.

An alternative is to pound the fresh leaves in a mortar and press out the juice.

Add a pinch of salt to three tablespoons of the undiluted juice and drink. This brings immediate relief.

  1. Diabetes: This is a good news to diabetes patients. From time immemorial, herbalists have been using the bitter-leaf plant for the treatment of diabetes.

Bitter leaf do not only reduces the sugar-level drastically, it also helps to repair the pancreas. Squeeze ten handfuls of the fresh leaves in ten litres of water and take two glasses thrice daily for one month, this amounts to six glasses daily.

  1. General Weakness: If you feel weak and tired, or you lost your vitality and vigour the you don’t have to be troubled, just get up and take a walk to the bush. Get some bitter leaf plant. Squeeze the leaves in water and take a glass thrice daily. Soon you will experience a new lease of energy.
  2. Skin Infection: For skin infections such as ringworm, itching, rashes and eczema, the pure, undiluted extract of bitter leaf is excellent. Simply apply it to the affected part daily.
  3. Pneumonia: Squeeze the fresh leaves of the plant in water. Take glass-full thrice daily. Warm the solution on fire each time before drinking. Do not boil, just warm. Continue the medication for a month. You do not need to squeeze the leaves each time you want to drink it, you only need to squeeze a large quantity at once and add some honey.
  4. Insomnia: Bitter leaf extract has done wonders for those suffering from sleeplessness. Simply take two glasses of bitter leaf solution every night. You will experience great calm and well being. You may add little honey to preserve it.
bitter leaf uses


            In a recap bitter leaf contains the following nutrients: alkaloids, anthraquinones ascorbic acid, calcium, chlorogeni, cooper, coumarius, essential oil, flavonoids, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium, protein, saponins, sesquiterparies, steroids, tannic acid, terpene, vitamin C, xanthorus and zinc.

            Generally, bitter leave may be used for the following:

  • Prevent cancer
  • Reduce fever
  • Lower hypertension
  • Increase endurance
  • Treating malaria
  • Overcoming itchiness
  • Treating appendicitis
  • Treating diabetes
  • Treating diarrhea
  • Healthy skin

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