Botanically known as Gongronema Latifolium and it belongs to the Asclepiadaceae family. The Utazi leaf’s origin could be traced to south-east part of Nigeria, West Africa.
The popular leaf also belongs to the class of medicinal plants that are beneficial in preventing and treating certain diseases and ailments. It can be chewed, infused or used for cooking.
To be more elaborate, there are several benefits of Utazi leaf, both as an agricultural business venture, health and for food delicacies.
Health Benefits of Utazi Leaf
Pharmacological studies speculate that utazi has both analgesic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-sickling, anti-oxidant, anti-asthmatic, anti-pyretic, hypoglycaemic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Although research is still underway to validate these claims, researchers agree that the fundamental ingredients used for medicinal purposes are stored in the various parts of the utazi plant such as; the leaves and the roots.
To reap the health benefits you can either do the following:
- Infused utazi leaves can be used as a home remedy for dysentery and intestinal worms.
- The leaves when chewed raw or infused with hot water can act as a fast relief for catarrh, congested chest, running nose and cough.
- History records that Ghanaian and Senegalese squeeze the utazi leaves and use it to massage the joints of children with difficulty in walking.
- Lactating mothers can use utazi leaf to control their body weight and maintain a healthy body system.
- It can be macerated in alcohol and used for the treatment of viral hepatitis and bilharzia.
- It can be used to cook soup, which acts as a laxative.
- Researchers believe that the decoction of the utazi leaf or stems can be beneficial in treating high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Infused utazi leaves are very helpful in treating malaria.
- In Sierra Leone, the utazi stems are mixed with lime juice as a purgative to treat stomach ache and colic.
- People suffering from asthma can chew utazi leaves or macerated roots to help relieve them from wheezing.
Nutritional Benefits of Utazi Leaf
This bitter-sweet vegetable is often used as a local spice and vegetable for food preparations such as; abacha (African salad), nkwobi (local pepper meat sauce), unripe plantain porridge, ugba (oil bean delicacy), local soups such as nsala (white soup), meat pepper soup, yam porridge and salads.
Business Prospect of Utazi Leaf
With the aforementioned medical and nutritional benefits of Utazi leaf, the future is bright for farmers of this vegetable. A social media user shared a post and he suggested it could be a source of revenue for individuals if it could be exported to countries like Dubai in a standardized packed form.
The post said:
“I took this picture in Dubai. Dubai doesn’t farm so they import this vegetable from Sri Lanka. And this is a source of revenue to a country who doesn’t have oil.”
The Utazi leaf is very abundant in all small and big market in the south-east and the south-south, including Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Delta, Rivers, etc.
With proper harvesting and natural method of preservation, the Utazi leaves can be export if government policy on exportation permits.
All the farmers need to do is the target a foreign market where it is most needed by registering with Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, an online medium for exportation of products.