Vernonia is a genus of about 1000 species of forbs and shrubs in the family Asteraceae. Some species are known as ironweed. Some species are edible and of economic value. They are known for having intense purple flowers. The genus is named for the English botanist William Vernon. There are numerous distinct subgenera and subsections in this genus. This has led some botanists to divide this large genus into several distinct genera. For instance, the Flora of North America only recognizes about 20 species in Vernonia sensu stricto, 17 of which are in North America north of Mexico, with the others being found in South America.
Several species of Vernonia, including V. calvoana, V. amygdalina, and V. colorata, are eaten as leaf vegetables. Common names for these species include bitterleaf, ewuro, ndole and onugbu. They are common in most West African and Central African countries. They are one of the most widely consumed leaf vegetables of Cameroon, where they are a key ingredient of Ndolé. The leaves have a sweet and bitter taste. They are sold fresh or dried, and are a typical ingredient in egusi soup.
Vernonia amygdalina is well known as a medicinal plant with several uses attributed to it, including for diabetes, fever reduction, and recently a non-pharmaceutical solution to persistent fever, headache, and joint pain associated with AIDS (an infusion of the plant is taken as needed).These leaves are exported from several African countries and can be purchased in grocery stores aiming to serve African clients. The roots of V. amygdalina have been used for gingivitis and toothache due to its proven antimicrobial activity.
In Brazil, V. condensata (commonly known as "figatil" or "necroton") is traditionally used as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antithermal, antianemic, antibacterial, liver tonic, hepatoprotective, and antiulcerogenic agent.
Vernonia galamensis is used as an oilseed in East Africa. It is grown in many parts of Ethiopia, especially around the city of Harar, with an average seed yield of 2 to 2.5 t/ha. It is reported that the Ethiopian strains of Vernonia have the highest oil content, up to 41.9% with up to 80% vernolic acid, and is used in paint formulations, coatings plasticizers, and as a reagent for many industrial chemicals.
Vernonia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora vernoniaeella (which feeds exclusively on the genus) and Schinia regia (which feeds exclusively on V. texana).
Vernonia calvoana or bitterleaf, is a common garden plant in many West African and Central African countries. It is a key ingredient in ndolé, a national dish of Cameroon.
According to BreastCancer.org, over 10 percent of all American females will develop breast cancer. In order to lower chances of developing breast cancer, maintaining a healthy weight, remaining physically active and maintaining a healthy diet are a few things that you can do. Adding bitter leaf in addition to that routine may also lessen the risk of breast cancer, according to the February 2004 edition of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
Bitter leaf is generally considered a liver herb because it stimulates, cleanses and supports the liver and gall bladder. The liver which is one of the most important organs of the body has a lot of vital functions that is needed for normal functioning of the whole system of the body. Without the liver all major process in the body will be paralysed. Without the liver fats will not be digested inside the body to be used as energy. Bitter leaf is said to be very helpful in maintaining the livers optimum health to release bile acid every time people eat fatty foods.
Regular consumption of this vegetable helps to regulate the blood’s cholesterol level which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. In cases of constipation, stomach ache and inflammation of the stomach, bitter leaf is a remedy. Bitter leaf has been widely used and recognised for its efficacy in preventing malaria. The raw leaves are plucked and washed before being squeezed to extract the juice. Drinking the juice alone is an antidote for malaria.
Diabetic patient can also use bitter-leaf as one of their medication to prevent high sugar level in the blood. It will not only lower the sugar level in the blood but also repair impaired pancreas. As you all know pancreas is the organ responsible for the production of insulin for glucose to reach each cell to use by the body as energy. Impaired pancreas does not release the right amount of insulin to maintain the right sugar level in the blood. Bitter-leaf is a real wonder of nature. You can take the benefit of this amazing plant by squeezing its leaves in ten litters of water.
Oxidation is constantly assaulting your system's cells. If this is left unchecked, precancerous cell formation could possibly arise. According to research conducted by and published in Food Chemistry, there are antioxidant properties found in bitter leaf that, when added to a person's diet, offer excellent disease-fighting properties.
While use of bitter leaf is not considered a cure-all, it does have proven benefits. The research studies listed above have proven that the benefits of adding bitter leaf to your diet on a routine basis outweigh any doubts that may exist.
Bitter Leaf Soup
Bitter leaf soup, also called onugbu, is a Nigerian specialty. The bitter leaf, or onugbu, is commonly found around homes in southeastern Nigeria. There are many variations of bitter leaf soup. Common ingredients include fish, beef or goat meat, cocoyam, crayfish and locust beans. While fresh bitter leaf most often is used in Nigeria, you will need to cook the soup with dried leaves, which you can find in African or Jamaican food stores. This soup is typically time consuming to prepare, though simpler and faster versions do exist. This soup frequently is served with It is usually served cassava pudding called foo-foo or pounded yam.
Create a simpler version of bitter leaf soup without the meat. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot on medium-low heat. Place onions in the pan and cook them until they become transparent, about five minutes. Meanwhile seed and mince the chili. Add tomatoes to the pot when onions are ready, but reserve the juice from the can. Also add the chili. Cook for 10 more minutes or until the tomatoes are thick and concentrated.
Cut your greens into strips, then chop them into small pieces. Stir your greens into the soup pot. Turn heat up to medium-high. Cover the pot and cook for five minutes, or until the greens become limp.
Add chicken stock and reserved tomato juice to the pot. Keep the pot on medium-high heat. Bring your soup to a boil. Add the rice.
Reduce the heat to low. Cover your pot. Cook for 45 minutes, or until rice becomes tender, recommends "An Exaltation of Soups," author Patricia Solley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Things You'll Need
Two slices stockfish
3 lbs. chicken
1 lb. beef or pork
Two 12-oz. cans tomato paste
2 tbsp. bullion
Salt to taste
Two dried, smoked fish
1 cup ground crayfish
½ lb. fresh coco yam
Blender or food processor
½ lb. dried bitter leaf
1 tsp. tenderizer
1 tsp. pepper
One ogili isi
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
Two minced onions
One hot chili pepper
Two cups canned, chopped and peeled tomatoes
3 lbs. greens such as kale, turnip greens or mustard greens
2 quarts chicken stock
¼ cup raw white rice