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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics


(Vernonia Amygdalina)

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  • Bitter Leaf Herbal Description
  • Bitter Leaf Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Bitter Leaf Dosage Information
  • Bitter Leaf Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Bitter Leaf Supplements & Products

  • bitter leaf plant


    Bitter Leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), also known as Mujonso, is a shrub or small tree that grows up to 23 feet tall with gray or brown bark that is rough and flaked. The leaves are green and oblong and the flowers are white, small, thistly, and clustered. The pith, leaf, and root have the medicinal qualities. In many parts of Africa, Bitter Leaf is prepared and eaten like spinach. The root and twigs are chewed as appetizers. This herb is believed to have tonic, anti-parasitic, anti-tumor, and anti-bacterial properties.

    bitter leaf flower


    Animals studies have shown that chimpanzees chew the pith and ingest the leaves when suffering from parasitic infections for its anti-parasitic properties, but it is also used in Africa to treat intestinal parasite infestation in humans as well. It is also used to treat schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms, but also works well in treating diarrhea and malaise.

    The African people also use it to treat fever, other intestinal complaints, malaria, and to help restore stamina. In a preliminary clinical trial, a decoction of 25 grams of fresh leaves of V. amygdalinna was 67-percent effective in creating an adequate clinical response inn African patients with mild falciparum malaria. Of these 32-percent had complete parasite clearance. Unfortunately 71-percent of subjects had recurrence of symptoms. The treatment was without significant adverse effects.


    Vernonia amygdalina extracts and isolated chemical constituents have been studied for their potential pharmacological effects, including:
    • Induction of apoptosis as determined in cell culture and animal studies.
    • Enhanced chemotherapy sensitivity - V. amygdalina extracts may render cancerous cells to be more sensitive to chemotherapy.
    • Inhibition of the growth or growth signals of cancerous cells.
    • Suppression of metastasis of cancerous cells in the body by the inhibition of NFκB is an anti-apoptotic transcription factors as demonstrated in animal studies.
    • Reduction of estrogen level in the body by the suppression of aromatase activity. The involvement of blood estrogen level in the etiology of estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer has been widely reported. Additional source of estrogen production in humans besides the ovary and adrenal gland is the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in a reaction catalyzed by aromatase. Many studies have shown positive correlations between blood estrogen levels and breast cancer risks. Therefore, compounds that inhibit aromatase activity are used for the treatment of breast cancer.
    • Antioxidants - V. amygdalina may provide anti-oxidant benefits.
    • Enhancement of the immune system - Many studies have shown that V. amygdalina extracts may strengthen the immune system through many cytokines (including NFκB, pro inflammatory molecule) regulation.
    • Studies conducted using streptozotocin-induced diabetic laboratory animals showed that V. amygdalina administration decreased blood glucose by 50-percent compared to untreated diabetic animals.
    • Extracts of V. amygdalina possess in vitro anthelminthic anti-parasitic properties.

    Vernonia Amygdalina: Anticancer Activity, Authentication, & Adulteration Detection

    Gresham LJ, Ross J, Izevbigie EB. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2008 Dec;5(5):342-8. The Laboratory of Cellular Signaling, Phytoceuticals, and Cancer Prevention and Therapies, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39217, USA.

    Evidence suggests that most chemotherapeutic agents are less effective as treatment in patients with estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast carcinomas compared to those with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast carcinomas. Moreover, African American Women (AAW) is disproportionately diagnosed with ER- breast cancer compared to their white counterparts. Novel therapies effective against ER- breast carcinomas are urgently needed to ameliorate the health disparity. Previous reports show that low concentrations (microgram/ml) of water-soluble leaf extracts of a Nigerian edible plant, V. amygdalina (VA), potently retards the proliferative activities of ER+ human breast cancerous cells (MCF-7) in vitro in a concentration-dependent fashion. However, the anti-proliferative activities of VA in either ductal or ER- carcinoma cells have not been characterized. The exposure of BT-549 to increasing concentrations of VA (10, 100, and 1000 µg/mL) inhibited cell growth by approximately 14% (P<0.05), 22% (p<0.05), and 50% (p<0.005) respectively. The cell count studies were corroborated by DNA synthesis studies. Treatments of BT-549 with 10, 100, and 1000 µg/mL VA inhibited DNA synthesis in a concentration dependent fashion by 22%, 76% (P<0.05), and 86% (p<0.01) respectively. BT-549 cells were insensitive to 10 and 100 nM paclitaxel (TAX) treatments. Isolation of DNA from dried VA leaves yielded approximately 12.2 and 1 kbp genomic DNA that were Eco RI-insensitive but Hind III and Bam HI-sensitive. These pieces of information may be used to enhance the safety of medicinal botanical VA through authentication, and adulteration detection.

    More Research:

  • NIH: Antioxidative & Chemopreventive Properties of Vernonia Amygdalina & Garcinia Bioflavonoid
  • Research Gate: Nutritional & Antimicrobial Properties of Vernonia Amygdalina Leaves
  • ACS Publication: Flavonoids From Vernonia Amygdalina & Their Antioxidant Activities


    Bitter Leaf comes in various forms and is an ingredient in other products. For best results, read and follow product label directions.


    Bitter Leaf is generally regarded as safe for use as a food and a medicine; however, safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. If you think you may have intestinal worms, it is best to consult with your physician before using Bitter Leaf for the treatment of your condition.


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