Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), Aug 1 (IANS) There is no qualified research to prove it but people claim that they have benefitted and now swear by it.
The leaves of the African bitter leaf tree/plant are said to have helped people reduce their blood sugar levels.
Gopal Tiwari, 72, is now popularising the benefits of the leaves by regularly distributing them to people at a temple in Katra locality in Prayagraj.
Every morning, Tiwari waits at the temple with these leaves and gives them to devotees who suffer from diabetes.
"Two years ago, someone told me about the benefits of the leaves of this unique plant and how it can control blood sugar level. I gave it to my wife who had high blood sugar levels and then saw that she benefitted because her blood sugar levels began going down. I have several plants in my home and I give it to those who ask for it," said Tiwari.
He said that the leaves reduce one's dependence on pharmaceuticals.
Prof Anupam Dikshit, former head of the Department of Botany at Allahabad University, said, "The plant does have medicinal properties and the Botanical name of this plant is Vernonia amygdalina. It belongs to the marigold family. Plants of this family are herbaceous (with exception of Vernonia amygdalina which is the only tree) and only a few research works have proven its anti-Diabetes properties."
Ayurvedic expert Dr D.K. Srivastava said, "Diabetes can be controlled by consuming the leaves of this tree as the borderline sugar patient can consume two leaves in the morning before breakfast while moderate diabetes can be controlled by consuming two leaves before every meal. One can experience the anti-diabetic properties of the plant after getting the sugar levels tested after 30 days of consumption."
"Since the leaves are quite bitter, the patients can keep the leaves in the mouth like beetle leaves without chewing. As the saliva reacts with the leaves and its juice, in diluted form, it can be gulped with a tolerable level of bitterness," suggested Dr Srivastava.
The leaves of the plant are available round the year and new plants can be raised through stem cutting. In the summer season, the plant grows even faster.
Meanwhile, some of those who have been taking leaves from Tiwari at the temple, claim to have benefitted from the same.
"There are no side effects and it is like eating 'karela' (bitter gourd). I have been taking these leaves for four months and there has been a marginal improvement in my diabetic condition. I plan to take it regularly because Ayurveda and alternative medicine takes time," said Rakesh Pathak, a retired government employee.