Monday, July 4, 2011


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Vernonia amygdalina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Vernonia
Species: V. amygdalina
Binomial name
Vernonia amygdalina
Vernonia amygdalina, a member of the Asteraceae family, is a small shrub that grows in the tropical Africa. V. amygdalina is commonly called bitter leaf because of its bitter taste. The leaves may be consumed either as a vegetable (macerated leaves in soups) or aqueous extracts as tonics for the treatment of various illnesses. In the wild, chimpanzees have been observed to ingest the leaves when suffering from parasitic infections.[1] Many herbalists and naturopathic doctors recommend aqueous extracts for their patients as treatment for emesis, nausea, diabetes, loss of appetite-induced abrosia, dysentery and other gastrointestinal tract problems. Until the last decade or so, there were only anecdotal reports and claims to support the health benefits. The anecdotal reports are now being supported by scientific evidence that a V. amygdalina regimen or consumption as dietary supplements may provide multiple health benefits.[citation needed]
Vernonia amygdalina extracts may help suppress, delay, or kill cancerous cell in many ways, such as:
  • Induction of apoptosis as determined in cell culture and animal studies.[2][3]
  • Enhanced Chemotherapy Sensitivity - V. amygdalina extracts may render cancerous cells to be more sensitive to chemotherapy.[2]
  • Inhibition of the growth or growth signals of cancerous cells.[4][5][6][7]
  • Suppression of metastasis of cancerous cells in the body by the inhibition of NFҡB is an anti-apoptotic transcription factors as demonstrated in animal studies.[3]
  • Reduction of estrogen level in the body by the suppression of Aromatase activity.[8] The Involvement of blood estrogen level in the etiology of estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer has been widely reported.[9] 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.[9] Therefore, compounds that inhibit Aromatase activity are used for the treatment of breast cancer.
  • Antioxidants - V. amygdalina may provide anti-oxidant benefits.[10]
  • Enhancement of the immune system - Many studies have shown that V. amygdalina extracts may strengthen the immune system through many cytokines (including NFҡB, pro inflammatory molecule) regulation.[2]
Studies conducted using streptozotocin-induced diabetic laboratory animals showed that V. amygdalina administration decreased blood glucose by 50% compared to untreated diabetic animals.[11]
V. amygdalina, traditionally used by small farmers in Western Africa, does possess anthelminthic anti-parasitic properties.[12]


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