Did you know there are some Nigerian vegetables and leaves you didn’t know are herbs?
Nature has blessed us with a cure for every illness and these cures can be derived from herbs or plants with medicinal qualities. In Nigeria and other parts of the world, there are plenty of medicinal plants that have been used to make home remedies for decades.
In this article, we will be discussing some Nigerian vegetables and leaves with medicinal qualities that you probably didn’t know about. Most of these vegetables are easily accessible and can even be grown in your backyard.
The good thing about most of these vegetables is that people already cook soups and other foods with them. This means that some of us have been enjoying their medicinal benefits without even knowing.
People are fast re-embracing herbal medicines in Nigeria especially because of the rise in awareness of the dangers associated with consuming a lot of pills and capsules. More people are searching the internet daily for traditional medicine and home remedies for different illnesses and conditions.
I won’t be discussing how to use these medicinal vegetables for medicine, so if you need more information it’s best to consult herbal medicine specialists or vendors for professional advice and directions for use.
1. Moringa plant (Moringa Oleifera)
While a lot of people know the moringa plant as a herb used for traditional medicine, people in northern Nigeria have been eating the leaves of this flowering tree as a vegetable.
The moringa tree is so famous for its many health benefits that it has been nicknamed the miracle tree. Not only can moringa be used in foods, but it can also be used as medicine and in cosmetics.
Moringa has lots of uses, but we will only be listing the few we can take in this article. Some of the most famous uses of moringa in West African countries include:
- Moringa plants are a great source of amino acids, Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and many essential minerals.
- Moringa is known for its antioxidants properties that can to eliminate free radicals and molecule that may cause inflammation, cell damage, and oxidative stress.
- Another famous use of moringa is to fight off inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory agents can suppress any Inflammatory enzymes and proteins in a person’s body.
- Moringa is also useful in the reduction of blood glucose and lipid levels in a person’s blood which is good for the heart.
- Moringa leaves and flowers are rich in polyphenols which helps to protect the liver against oxidation, damage, and toxicity.
- If you want your liver to be healthy, then moringa is the best vegetable for you. The leaves and flowers of this plant contain high amounts of polyphenols which is known to help protect the liver against damage, oxidation, and also toxicity.
- Some of the conditions that can be traditionally treated with Moringa include but are not limited to the followings: Arthritis and joint pains, Anemia, Asthma, Diabetes, Cancer, Constipation, Diarrhea, Epilepsy, Headaches, Fluid retention, Heart problems, Intestinal spasms, Stomach and intestinal ulcers, High blood pressure,Thyroid disorders, Kidney stones.
- Treatment of conditions like infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections) and abscesses. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
- Moringa is also a topical treatment for skin conditions as it works as a germ killer or drying agent. You can also apply moringa Leaf extract to open injuries as it has blood clotting properties that can help your wounds heal faster.
For people who exercise often, smoothies that are made with moringa leaves work great to help you get back strength. This makes moringa smoothie a great treatment for fatigue.
I have earlier mentioned that Moringa contains Vitamin A which means it is great for a vision so if you’re having problems with your eyes is advisable that you consume more of moringa.
2. Bitter Leaf (Vernonia amygdalina)
Bitter Leaf is no doubt one of the most famous vegetables in Nigeria. It is also grown in different parts of the world and used for different purposes.
As the name of this vegetable implies, it is very bitter, and most times have to be thoroughly washed to eliminate the bitterness before use in soups.
A lot of people cannot stand the bitter taste of this vegetable, but if you are daring enough you just mind enjoy lots of health benefits from drinking the bitter extract. Bitter Leaf extract works as a great detox and it also has antipyretic properties.
- Bitter Leaf extract has been used as a home remedy for stomach aches for a long time. How this is done is either by chewing on the tender part of the bitter Leaf stalk or by chewing the leaf swallowing the bitter extract. You also have the option of washing the leaves and pounding or blending them so that the juice can be extracted easily. Once the juice has been extracted, all you have to do is add a pinch of salt before drinking it, and in a matter of minutes, stomach aches will be relieved.
- Bitter leaf extract can also be used for treating diarrhea, typhoid fever, and even malaria.
- Bitter leaf is great for both the blood and the lymphatic system. The medicinal priorities of this vegetable are what makes it a great way to cleanse the blood and lymphatic system of almost all forms of impurities. To use the bitter leaf for this purpose all you have to do is squeeze and drink the bitter extract. This should be done once in a while.
- If you have been dealing with hypertension, drinking bitter leaf water is a great way to regulate blood pressure levels. Diabetes is also another condition that can be managed using bitter leaf extract. If you need to lower your blood glucose levels, then you should begin to consume bitter leaf extracts.
- This vegetable is a powerful herb that also treats infections and diseases like STIs, skin exanthemas like eczema, ringworm, and even pneumonia.
- Something else that bitter leaf is used for treating is prostate cancer. It works great to treat the symptoms of this condition like painful urination which most times is difficult to manage with other herbal remedies. The bitter leaf juice has great diuretic qualities so it’s just perfect if you need to ease or increase the flow of urine.
- A glass of bitter leaf juice daily is healthy and may even help improve the sleep life of individuals dealing with insomnia.
Some people have claimed that consuming bitter leaf can help to enhance fertility, but at present, there isn’t enough data or research to back up this claim.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a very common plant grown almost everywhere in the world. It is needless to point out how famous our medical uses are like almost every home has one product of another that claims to possess some of the wonderful qualities of Aloe Vera.
Most skin care products that claim to be organic and medical products have Aloe Vera as an active ingredient.
- Aloe vera is primarily used as topical treatments by applying the gel in the middle of the plant to the skin surface. It yields results like smoothing rough skin irritations, and even rashes. Some skin conditions that can be treated using aloe vera gel include psoriasis and dermatitis.
- You can also use aloe vera gel to treat conditions like oral mucositis, canker sores, and mouth ulcers. All you have to do is apply the gel or simply cut a part of the aloe vera Leaf and place it on the ulcer or sore.
- If you have been dealing with plaques, you can also make a mouth rinse with aloe vera juice and watch how it helps you eliminate plaques in a short time.
- Burns and other injuries can be treated using aloe vera gel all you are required to do is extract the gel from belief and place it on the burnt area.
- Under the skin of every aloe vera plant, you can find some latex and this latex can be used in the home treatment of constipation. The latex has been discovered to have a very strong laxative effect and this is what makes it an effective way to tackle constipation at home.
- Diabetes is another condition that aloe vera has been traditionally used to treat. Diabetes is not easy to manage using herb but some studies have revealed that aloe vera may be a great way to manage blood sugar levels which means it is a great way to manage diabetes.
4. Basil or Scent Leaf (Ocimum gratissimum)
Basil or scent leaf is a very popular vegetable in West Africa. In Nigeria, it is used by the Benin people to make black soup, which is one of their local dishes.
The beauty of the scent Leaf is the fact that it grows easily, thus a lot of Nigerians have it gown in their compounds and either sell or give it freely to whoever is in need of it.
- Some of the most popular uses of scent leaf in Nigeria is as a home remedy for dysentery, constipation, vomiting, stomach aches, and diarrhea.
- Scent Leaf is also used to make medicine for ear aches colon pains and even menstrual pain
- Scent Leaf can also be used for the prevention of fever, cold, cough, catarrh, and even malaria. If you are bloated or dealing with indigestion, you can also make a quick home remedy using scent leaf.
- If you have skin conditions such as eczema and ringworm, you can also use scent Leaf extract to treat these conditions. Oral health is not left out when it comes to the health benefits of scent leaf.
- Oral infections have been treated traditionally with scent Leaf for a long time, and some people even go as far as chewing the stick of the scent leaf plant when they have fungal infections or just as a local chewing stick to keep their mouth clean.
- Scent leaf is used for cooking most especially because it possesses a very nice aroma. Which means many people still enjoy health benefits without knowing it.
5. Girdlepod (Mitracarpus Scaber)
This is one plant that people often mistake as a weed majorly because not everyone knows about it medicinal qualities. However, it has proven to be quite useful when it comes to the treatment of a lot of illnesses.
- Girdle pod has been used for the treatment of skin infections like ringworm, dermatosis, and scabies for some time now and it proves quite effective in correcting these skin problems.
- This plant also works wonderfully as a home remedy for conditions like toothaches, headaches, body aches, and even arthritic pains. Some people have even used it for treatment of conditions such as sexually transmitted infections, amenorrhea, and hepatitis.
6. Ringworm Bush or Candle Plant (Senna Alata)
The candle plant is a very beautiful plant that is sometimes used as flowers to beautify living areas. However, these plants that thrive in the tropics has wonderful medicinal qualities including antibacterial qualities, anti-inflammatory qualities, anti-fungal and analgesic, diuretic, anti-tumor, and even laxative qualities.
- The candle plant is popularly known for its anti-fungal qualities which makes it one of the best ways to treat conditions such as fungal infections of the skin, scabies, and even ringworm. Even parasitic skin infections like eczema can be treated using this herb.
- This plant not only has laxative properties, but it can also be used to make medication for treating diarrhea, constipation, uterus problems, intestinal parasites, and even worm expulsion.
- The decoction created from the leaves of this plant can be used to treat biliousness and even hypertension.
7. Wild Lettuce
Wild lettuce is one medicinal plant that is widely used in Nigeria. Even in other parts of the world, this plant is valued because of its healing qualities.
One of the many things that the wild lettuce is popular for is its use in sedatives and relaxants. It also possesses antioxidative properties.
- This plant has analgesic properties and can be used to make a remedy for pain relief at home. Some of the pains that can be cured with wild lettuce include joint pains, muscle pains, colic pains, arthritic pains, and migraine.
- A lot of women have to deal with menstrual pains every month and one of the herbal remedies to tackle this is wild lettuce concoction. Muscle spasms can also be treated using this plant.
- Of all the plants listed in this article, the wild lettuce is the only one that has mental health benefits as it can be used to manage stress and anxiety due to its euphoric properties.
- Anti-tussive properties is also a quality that wild lettuce has, which is why it can be used for the treatment of conditions such as asthma, cough, and other respiratory problems. People who have whooping cough and bronchitis can also enjoy the healing properties in wild lettuce. However, the most popular use of this plant is a treatment for insomnia, and it has proven to be very effective over the years.
- Headaches and migraines can be treated with wild lettuce as well, and also people dealing with sexual disorders (especially women with uncontrollable sexual drive) can find help using this herb as a cure. Some individuals have used this help to manage premenstrual symptoms such as pains anxiety and uneasiness.
The wild lettuce is also used as a home remedy for quite a number of skin problems such as skin itching, infections, irritations, and even eczema.
Wrong use or use over a long period of time could slow down a person’s breathing and ultimately lead to death. This is why it is important that the wild lettuce is used in moderation and only for a short period of time.
These are 7 vegetables and leaves that have wonderful health benefits and can be found in Nigeria. Do well to read more about them and enjoy their goodness. Please leave a comment and remember to share.