Bitter leaf is a medicinal and nutritional plant that can be found in Nigeria. It speeds up metabolism and thereby helps in reducing weight gain. It contains essential fatty acids – linoleic and linolenic acid. It is high in antioxidants. Bitter leaf is used traditionally as a cure for headaches, fever, joint pains. It stimulates bile and hydrochloric acid production.
The juice can be made by squeezing the juice out of the leaf or by blending and filtering it, reduces fever and helps to reduce the high level of sugar in the blood making it great for diabetic patients. It cleanses the lymphatic system. Bitter leaf juice detoxifies the body and nourishes the skin, it also increases breast milk production in nursing mothers. However, it should not be taken by pregnant women because it contracts the uterus after childbirth and can induce labour. It can also stop blood from oozing from a fresh wound when poured on it.
Not only the juice is medicinal, but the roots of the Bitter leaf have also been used to cure toothache and gingivitis. My grandmother uses the stem to cleanse her teeth sometimes especially when she has toothache.
The best thing about Bitter leaf is the bitter leaf soup, called ofe onugbu in Igbo. Some people (like my paternal grandmother) also add it to egusi and ogbono soup.