Utazi /Otazi leaves (Gongronema latifolium):This leaf is heart shaped with a somewhat bitter taste (not as bitter as bitter leaf) and is usually eaten raw. It is mostly used as a garnish for food like African salad (Abacha&Ugba), Isiewu and Nkwobi, but also used for soups like Nsala, Utazi soup and a special fish and unripe plantain recipe for diabetic patients.
Utazi leaves are of a tropical plant and are used as a remedy for many years. Health benefits of utazi leaves are widely known in traditional medicine and used to treat various symptoms and diseases. The plant belongs to the family of Asclepiadaceae and mainly grows in tropical forests in the west of Africa, including Nigeria.
They fight diabetes, cancer, liver diseases, lowers cholesterol, boost digestion, supports weight-loss. They are also used to boost fertility in both men and women, and cleanses the womb after pregnancy/child-birth (postpartum).
Other benefits of Gongronema latifolium (Utazi) include:
1.The utazi roots can be decocted and mixed with other medicinal plants for the treatment of sickle cell anemia.
2. Infused utazi leaves can be used as a home remedy for dysentery and intestinal worms.
3. The leaves when chewed raw or infused with hot water can act as a fast relief for catarrh, congested chest, running nose and cough.
4. History records that Ghanaian and Senegalese squeeze the utazi leaves and use it to massage the joints of children with difficulty in walking and this practice helps those young children to start walking.
5. Lactating mothers can use utazi to control their body weight as well as maintain a healthy body system.
6. The utazi leaves can be macerated in alcohol and used for the treatment of viral hepatitis and bilharzia.
7. The utazi fruits can be used to cook soup, which can be eaten as a laxative.
8. Researchers agree that the decoction of the utazi leaves or stems can be beneficial in treating high blood pressure and diabetes.
9. Infused utazi leaves are very helpful in treating malaria.
10. The utazi latex from the fruits can be applied on the teeth that are affected by caries.
11. Sierra Leone infuses the utazi stems with lime juice before drinking it and this acts as a purgative to treat stomach ache and colic.
12. People suffering from asthma can chew utazi leaves or macerated roots to help relieve them from wheezing.
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