Utazi whose botanical name is Gongronema latifolium) is a medicinal plant. Traditionally, it has been used in the treatment of various ailments and diseases.
It is a perennial edible shrub of the family, Asclepiadaceae widely employed in Nigeria for various medicinal and nutritional purposes (Ugochukwu et al.2003. It is mostly cultivated in West African countries such as Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Senegal, etc. In the southern part of Nigeria, Igbos call it Utazi, the Yorubas name it arokeke, Efik and Ibibios call it Urasi or utazi.
Gongronema latifolium is characteristically sharp, bitter and slightly sweet taste, especially when eaten fresh. It is used in preparing local delicacies such as nkwobi, isi ewu, abacha, ugba, plantain porridge and soup. The parts commonly used are leaves, stem and root.
Utazi contains essential oils, glycoside, alkaloids, saponins and tannin, various minerals, vitamins and some essential amino acids.
Studies have shown that the whole plant exhibits the following herbal actions- analgesic, antitumor, broad spectrum antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral), antipyretic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, anti-sickling, anti-asthmatic, mild expectorant, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, digestive tonic and laxative properties.guardian.ng
Utazi leaf can be used to relieve pain caused by bruises, cuts, inflammation and rashes, etc. A paste of the leaf should be made and applied to the affected area (external application). Also aqueous extract of the leaf can be taken to provide relief from internal pain.
- Kills bacteria
According to Eleyinmi (2007) the methanol extracts of G. Latifolium show activity against S. aureus, L.monocytogenes, S. enteritidis, P. aeruginosa and S. Cholerasius ser typhimurium.
- Management of diabetes
Gongronema Latifolium is good for management of diabetes because its useful in maintaining healthy blood glucose level. In a small clinical trial, the blood glucose concentration of healthy humans was determined after consumption of the leaves, and it showed a significant reduction in blood glucose level. prota4u.org.
- Anti-sickling agent
A decoction of the roots, combined with other plant species is taken to treat sickle cell anaemia. breaking.com.ng
- Antioxidant potential
Preliminary works and other reports show the presence of saponins and flavonoids which had been shown to possess antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (Morebise and Fafunso, 1998; Hernández et al., 2000)
- Prevents cancer
The antioxidant property of Utazi makes a useful tool for treating cancer. The antioxidant protects the body by acting as free radical scavengers. G. latifolium leaf extracts were reported by Iweala et al. to exhibit strong inhibitory activity against human lung carcinoma and human breast adenocarcinoma in vitro.
- Anti-ashmatic property
Sonibare M.A. and Z.O Gbile (2008) reported that Gongronema Latifolium has anti-ashmatic potential. Asthmatic patients can chew the fresh leaves of G.latifolium to relieve wheezing while a cold maceration of the roots of the plant can be consumed as treatment for asthma.
- Anti inflammatory Properties
Utazi is used to treat such inflammation as arthritis, muscular pain and orchitis. To test for possible anti-inflammatory property of the plant in chronic inflammatory conditions, arthritis was induced in experimental rats and G.latifolium extracts were found to significantly and dose-dependently inhibit the arthritis formation. Morebise, et al.
- Help prevent ulcer
Nwinyi O.C et al (2008), reported that The stem bark extract of Gongronema Latifolium has equally been reported to have anti-ulcerative property.
- Treatment of malaria
Aqueous extract from Utazi leaf can be used to treat malaria. Akuodor G.C. et al (2010) reports that Gongronema Latifolium has antiplasmodal activity, this supports the traditional use of the leaf extract of the plant for local treatment of malaria.
- Cough and phlegm laxative
Essien et al. reported that G. latifolium is used to treat cough in Nigeria. The leaves when chewed raw or infused with hot water can act as a fast relief for catarrh, congested chest, running nose and cough. globalfoodbook.com
- Post natal care
- latifolium can be used to cleanse the womb and treat abdominal pain after childbirth. Lactating mothers can use utazi to control their body weight as well as maintain a healthy body system.
- Protects the liver
Utazi leaves can promote the detoxification actions of the liver. It can be macerated in alcohol and used for the treatment of viral hepatitis and bilharzia. It can be used to prevent drunkenness because it neutralises the intoxicating properties of alcohol and its harmful effects on the liver.
- Lowers cholesterol
An ethanolic leaf extract possessed significant anti-lipid peroxidative activities.prota4u.org
- Aids digestion
Utazi leaves aid digestion by stimulating the digestive system. It stimulates the flow of bile and increase appetite for food. Juice extracted from Utazi leaves can be used in the home treatment of sore gums, colic, dyspepsia, loss of appetite, stomach ache, constipation, dysentery and intestinal worms. (Nutrifactsblog)