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Bitter leaf, a green bitter plant called onugbu in Igbo, ewuro in Yoruba and shiwaka in Hausa is naturally endowed with amazing health benefits.  While every part of this plant is beneficial, only the leaf is utilised mostly for cooking. However, the leaves are squeezed and washed before being used to make soups, discarding the juice which has the bulk of the medicinal and health benefits.

Bitter leaf is rich in vitamins, proteins, fiber, minerals, ß-carotene, Phosphorus, Selenium, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Manganese and Copper.

Drinking bitter leaf juice has many amazing medicinal, nutritional,  skin and health benefits.

Health Benefits

  • Bitter leaf juice is very beneficial to women. It helps lactating mothers to produce quality breast milk and also helps women to stay young for a longer time because of the ß-carotene it contains.
  • It supports the immune system, helps the body to detoxify and get rid of harmful toxins naturally, and helps the kidney and the liver.
  • The juice is extremely effective in the prevention and treatment of malaria and typhoid, pneumonia, cough and other sicknesses.
  • It helps to bring relief from general weakness.
  • It can reduce a toothache.
  • Also, it helps to reduce and control blood sugar level hence, in treating diabetes.
  • The leaf’s extract helps in treating stroke, strengthen the muscle and calm the nerves.
  • It prevents arthritis and rheumatism, soothes inflamed joints and eradicates the pain.
  • It aids digestion and promotes healthy metabolism.
  • The juice contains elements that are useful for general heart functions.
  • Regular intake of bitter leaf extracts can help in preventing deadly disease like prostate cancer, high blood pressure, tuberculosis and Hepatitis B.
  • It helps in treating gallstones.
  • It can also help with the contraction of the uterus during labour.
  • The extract is also said to soothe and cure pile.
  • It aids digestion.
  • Ideal for weight loss.
  • Good for gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Helps in the treatment of diarrhoea.
  • Relieves abdominal pain.
  • It improves appetite.

Skin Benefits

It has amazing skin benefits due to the antibiotic and antifungal properties. The pure, undiluted bitter leaf juice can be squeezed and applied topically to the affected part daily to treat skin infections such as ringworm, rashes, itching, eczema and some other kinds of skin infections.

You can extract bitter leaf juice from the leaves, stalk and stem through the following ways:

  1. Chew the tender stem of the plant like a chewing stick and swallow the juice.
  2. Pound the fresh leaves in a mortar and squeeze out the juice or blend or puree and strain the water. Optionally, you can add a pinch of salt to undiluted juice and drink.
  3. Eat the leaves raw.

You can also squeeze the fresh leaves of the plant in water and just warm (not boil) the solution before drinking.


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This article was first published on 28th September 2018


An Environment Resource Management graduate of Abia State University with her Masters in-view, Chinwe is also a Columnist, an OAP, a sought-after motivational speaker and writer with special interest in food and the balance of diet.

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