Many vegetable crops, particularly the leafy vegetables, are mainly consumed for their nutritional values without much consideration for their medicinal importance.
Going through many communities in Africa, these vegetables are however fast losing out because many are not aware of their medical importance to the body or have stopped eating them.
Apart from providing the necessary nutrients for health and development of the human body, many of these leafy vegetables have come to be appreciated for their importance, even for diverse health problems such as ulcer, high blood pressure, stress and anaemia.
A recent study by Ayodele A.E of the Department of Botany and Microbiology, University of Ibadan revealed some 28 medicinal vegetables of Southwestern Nigeria through a market survey carried out for the available leafy vegetables.
The markets situated in Ibadan, Oyo, Akure, Ago-Iwoye, Ijebu Igbo, Ado-Ekiti, Abeokuta and Ijebu-Ode, all in South western part of Nigeria, were visited for the purpose of this survey. Some of the plants found included Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) said to be used for fever, pile, sedative and stomach problems and Ocimum grattissimum (tree basil) used for fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, pile, stomach problems and high blood pressure. Also was Corchorus olitorius, called Ewedu by the Yoruba-speaking people.
This is a shiny green leaf vegetable rich in Vitamins A, C and D. It is used in making sauces to accompany stews and enjoyed for its mucilaginous or viscous properties. Some researchers recently pointed out the benefits of eating Ewedu to stay free of some disease causing germs in a study to assess the antibacterial and antifungal properties of the plant.