The African Leaf or Vernonia Amygdalina is a popular herb plant used as a traditional medicine in the western part of Africa, especially in Nigeria. Indeed, what are the benefits of African leaves for health?
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Nutritional value information of African leaves
Compiled from a variety of studies, the leaves of Vernonia amygdalina include protein sources, fibers (insoluble type), and moderately high healthy fats. In addition, the leaves of Africa are enriched by a number of other important minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and sodium. The leaves also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and B complex vitamins that can help to meet the daily needs of the body.
The benefits of African leaves for body health
African leaf apparently has many benefits for health that many people have not known. These include:
1. Lowering cholesterol
According to the Journal of Vascular Health and Risk Management, African leaves are believed to reduce the levels of bad LDL cholesterol in the blood to 50 percent and increase good cholesterol levels. The increase of HDL cholesterol is the biggest risk factor of heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, the good HDL cholesterol levels are precisely helping to maintain cardiovascular health and other bodily functions.
Nevertheless, the study’s findings are still limited to test results in lab rats. So far there has been no evidence of strong research regarding the benefits of African leaves to lower cholesterol in humans. However, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?
2. Help Cancer treatment
African leaf extract proved to be able to lower the excess estrogen levels in the blood associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. That’s why African leaves can be believed to help reduce breast cancer risk.
This finding also suggests that African leaves could help recovery during the treatment of breast cancer. In a study belonging to Jackson State University, African leaves could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. In other studies the leaf extract proved to kill cancer cells in the nasal and throat areas.
3. Preventing Heart disease
African leaves contain linolenic acid (Omega 3) and linoleic acid (Omega 6) which is very important for the body, but is not produced in the body. Based on the study of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3 and omega-6 intake can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
A study in 2009 published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design reported that both of these fatty acids have been shown to protect from coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure, blood clotting disorders, reducing Risk of atherosclerosis, and is anti-inflammatory (to resist injury, irritation or infection). In addition, Omega 3 fatty acids are able to control rheumatism and provide protection against neurodegenerative diseases.
4. Relieves Malaria fever symptoms
African leaf juice has been used for centuries to treat malaria fever. In a clinical trial in Africa, fresh African leaf juice proved to be 67% effective in relieving mild fever and malaria. However, you cannot simply rely on these leaves to cure malaria. You still need a doctor’s care.
5. Contains antioxidants
Vernonia Amygdalina includes plants that contain high antioxidants. The antioxidant itself functions to protect against cell damage due to oxidative stress from exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, aging, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, and other generative diseases.
6. Helps diabetes treatment
In its native habitat, African leaves are widely used for alternative diabetes treatments in addition to major medical therapies.
This leaf extract contains active substances such as saponins, tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and polyphenols which are useful for reducing blood glucose after eating. Ethanol extract in African leaves can also reduce overall blood sugar levels. Animal studies have shown that these leaves reduce blood glucose by up to 50% compared to untreated diabetic animals.
Do not carelessly consume African leaves without consulting a doctor
Apart from those mentioned above, African leaves still store a myriad of other benefits such as helping to maintain immunity to treat intestinal worms. However, keep in mind that consumption of African leaves is not intended as a primary treatment.
Scientific evidence to support the claim of the benefits of African leaves to treat various chronic diseases is still lacking. Most of the findings above are still preliminary in nature because they were made only based on laboratory tests in lab animals, not yet proven in humans.
Tell your doctor first if you intend to consume African leaves while undergoing any treatment regarding your condition. Herbal medicines should not be taken carelessly because each person’s reaction to drugs can be different from one another. Even though you have the same complaints, it is not necessarily herbal medicine that turns out to be suitable for you will provide the same properties to your child or neighbor.
Therefore herbal medicines should only be consumed to maintain health, restore disease, or reduce the risk of illness – not to cure. To cure the disease, it still requires a prescription drug.