HEALTH BENEFITS OF UTAZI. Gongronema Latifolium, also known as Utazi is another tropical plant with high medicinal value that has been used to treat many diseases and ailments. If you have never heard of or seen it before, Utazi is a type of climbing shrub that has heart-shaped leaves which are edible and when eaten fresh, have a sharp, sweet and sour taste. It is native to Africa but the English name is bushbuck.
The leaves are popular in Nigeria for use in making local dishes like isi ewu, nkwobi, ugba, abacha, soups, and plantain porridge, however, every other part of the plant including the root, leaves, seeds, fruit and the stem bark possess medicinal properties.
Utazi leaves, for example, are rich in potassium, sodium, copper, calcium, chromium, manganese, fatty acids, proteins, fiber, and selenium. The plant also contains glycosides, essential oils, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, some essential amino acids, and various other vitamins and minerals.
Utazi has been found to exhibit antioxidant, analgesic, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic and laxative properties among others which makes it ideal for treating various health conditions.
The different health benefits of the Utazi plant are as follows:
Utazi is beneficial in the management of diabetes because of its ability to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In a small study conducted in a group of people who consumed the leaves of the plant daily, it was discovered that they experienced a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels after some time.
The leaf of the Utazi plant can be used as an analgesic for pain caused by cuts, bruises, rashes, inflammation and so on. To benefit from its analgesic effects, grind the powder with a few spoons of water until it forms a paste, then apply to the affected area where the pain the concentrated. This only applies to external ailments.
In cases of internal pain, an extract of the leaves can be ingested to provide pain relief.
ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTICANCER AGENT
The Utazi is rife with antioxidants which are compounds that protect the body by scavenging free radicals, meaning that it is able to contribute to the prevention and treatment of cancers. These antioxidants found in the extract of the leaves also possess strong inhibitory effects against different kinds of cancer cells like those in lung and breast cancers.
Studies have also shown that the flavonoids and saponins present in Utazi contribute to the antimicrobial and antioxidant effects of the plant.
TREATMENT OF ASTHMA AND OTHER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS
Studies have shown that consuming a cold maceration of the Utazi plant’s roots is helpful in the treatment of asthma and its symptoms. The extract of the leaves also helps in this way.
In the same way, the high selenium content also helps to boost the immune system, making it helpful in the treatment of coughs, running nose and sore throat. If you have a sore throat, just chew on some fresh leaves or infuse the leaves in hot water to relieve your symptoms.
Utazi contains components with potent anti-inflammatory properties which makes it effective in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like muscle pain and arthritis. Some scientists performed an experiment where they tested the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant in subjects with chronic arthritis. They soon discovered that extracts of the Utazi plant were able to significantly reduce the formation of arthritis depending on the dose consumed.
Studies have found that you can use the aqueous extract of the leaves of the Utazi plant to treat malaria. The antiplasmodial/antimalarial activity of Utazi makes it easier to understand why the leaf extract has always been used traditionally for the treatment of malaria in local areas.
PROTECTS YOUR LIVER
The leaves of the Utazi plant have been known to promote the liver’s detoxification processes. Also, you can macerate it in alcohol and use it to treat bilharzia and viral hepatitis.HEALTH BENEFITS OF UTAZI.
Interestingly, you can prevent yourself from getting drunk by consuming the leaf extract because of its ability to neutralize the intoxicating effects of alcohol as well as neutralizing the harmful effects of alcohol on your liver.
Pretty neat right?
LOWERS CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
The alcoholic extract of the plant has the ability to block the formation of cholesterol by interfering with the enzymes that convert what you eat into bad cholesterol. The antioxidant properties of the plant also come into play here as they also contribute to lower levels of cholesterol in the body.
SUPPORTS A HEALTHY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Utazi has a very positive effect on your gut and your digestive system in general as it supports digestion by actively stimulating the digestive system. Now, its bitterness tends to increase appetite for food and stimulates bile flow while maintaining healthy levels of bile in your body. All this ensures that your digestive system functions properly while helping to treat digestive conditions like constipation, stomach ache, and appetite loss.
Asides from the benefits listed above, Utazi also contains minerals that are beneficial to your organ function, development of bones and muscle as well as their strength and even digestion. Utazi also has great potential to help control your weight due to its high chromium content that reduces your appetite resulting in lower calories being consumed, especially in lactating mothers trying to lose that baby weight. Not to mention the supremely high protein content ensures that your weight loss goals are on point and it also controls the way your body gains weight.
The high content of proteins – which are very important in the growth of cells and tissues in your body – provide energy for your body to function optimally, among other things.
Its high nutritional value makes it very ideal for use in your everyday meals as well as using it as a medicinal supplement since you can grow it in your backyard or buy it from the local markets – as fresh leaves – or supermarkets – in sealed bags containing the dried leaves or powdered form.