Vernonia amygdalina, a member of the daisy family, is a small shrub that grows in tropical Africa. V. amygdalina typically grows to a height of 2–5 m (6.6–16.4 ft). The leaves are elliptical and up to 20 cm (7.9 in) long. Its bark is rough. V. amygdalina is commonly called Congo Bololo in D. R. Congo, bitter leaf in English because of its bitter taste. African common names include grawa (Amharic), ewuro (Yoruba), etidot (Efik), onugbu (Igbo), ityuna (Tiv), oriwo (Edo), Awɔnwono (Akan), chusar-doki or shuwaka (Hausa), mululuza (Luganda), labwori (Acholi), olusia (Luo), ndoleh (Cameroon) and olubirizi (Lusoga).
The leaves are a staple vegetable in soups and stews of various cultures throughout equatorial Africa. They are washed to reduce their bitterness, after which they are dried and used to prepare meat dishes. In Nigeria, leaves are also used in place of hops to brew beer.
The Tongwe use cold concoctions of this plant as a treatment for malaria, intestinal parasites, diarrhea, and stomach upset. For numerous African ethnic groups, a concoction of this plant is also a prescribed treatment for malarial fever, schistosomiasis, amoebic dysentery, and several other intestinal parasites and stomach aches.
In Nigeria, twigs and sticks from this plant are used as a chewing stick for dental hygiene and the stems are used for soap in Uganda. In Ghana, the young leaves rather than the old, has gained credence for its potent anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory activity; and have been proven using animal models.
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