Justicia carnea is a popular ornamental plant, which possesses powerful medicinal values. It is commonly referred to as blood root, blood booster, ewe eje in Yoruba, Ogwu obara in Igbo, and jacobinia in Brazil and south America.
The plant, which is usually green in color and produces pink flowers, belongs to the family of Acanthaceae. It is a creeping, perennial plant and grows up to 2 meters tall. The roots and the leaves possess medicinal values and have been used in treating several diseases. When you boil the plant, it turns the water red. The red coloration of the decoction made people think that the plant must contain blood boosting compounds. Excitedly, scientific studies have supported the traditional claims.
In this article i will take you through the nutritional and medicinal benefits of justicia carnea. It is an awesome plant and worth your time and attention. So lets go through this together.
Nutritional benefits of Justicia carnea
There are several nutritional benefits of justicia carnea leaves. The leaves are rich in carbohydrates and proteins, which are for energy production and maintenance of cellular activities. The protein content may help in cellular functions and are building blocks for structural and functional biomolecules.
Justicia carnea leaves are rich in vitamins
One of the numerous nutritional benefits of justicia carnea leaves is in the possession of various forms of the B vitamins such as Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B9, and B12. The leaves are also rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Another plant with this composition is pumpkin fruit.
While vitamin A maintains good vision, vitamin B are good for cellular functions such as metabolisms and energy production, and improve brain functioning. Vitamin C and E are antioxidants. They protect our cells from the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species. They also maintain our skin tone and texture, and help in reproductive functions.
Mineral contents of justicia carnea leaves
The minerals present in justicia carnea (Ewe eje or ogwu obara) are calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc. These minerals help in boosting blood production, which is why the plant is called ogwu obara (blood medicine) among the Igbo people of Southern Nigeria. They are also needed in strong bone formation, and in cellular and neuronal functions.
Health benefits of Justicia carnea
Having discussed the nutritional benefits of ewe eje, i shall now take you through the various health benefits of justicia carnea leaves, and roots. I do hope that after reading through this article, you would plan to start cultivating this amazing plant specie in your garden.
Justicia carnea leaves boost blood production
The leaves of justicia carnea possess high content of iron and vitamin C. This compounds may be responsible for the blood boosting property of ewe eje leaves. It has already been pointed out that this plant is used traditionally to boost blood production among the people of southern Nigeria. Studies have also confirmed this claim.
Justicia carnea reverses anemia
Aside boosting blood production in normal persons, justicia carnea leaves also reverses anemic conditions. In a study conducted by Onyeabor and colleagues, the leaf extract of jusiticia carnea reverses the anemic effect of phenylhydrazine on the pack cell volume, red blood cell, and hemoglobin concentrations. The acute toxicity test also proved that justicia carnea leaves are safe for consumption.
Benefits of justicia carnea on cholesterol level
Another strong benefits of justicia carnea leaves is in lipid profile. In the study conducted by Onyeabor and his colleagues, it was shown that the leaf extract not only reverses anemic condition, but also lowered the lipid profile of the experimental rats. The leaves were able to greatly lower the total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, but increased the serum level of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
What this means is that aside fighting anemia, justicia carnea leaves also improves your cardiovascular health by suppressing the tendency for dyslipidemia.
Justicia carnea prevents diabetes
One of the symptoms of diabetes is elevated blood glucose level. This is due to the inability of the pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin, which transports glucose to cells, or the inability of cells of the body to recognize insulin. This later condition is termed insulin resistance. In which ever condition, the blood glucose level increases abnormally.
Justicia carnea has been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes. This claim by traditional healers with regard to the efficacy of justicia carnea in the treatment diabetes have been researched on and it was found to be true. The antidiabetic effect of justicia is through the inhibition ofα-amylase and α-glucosidase, the carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes, and also through its hypolipidemic potential.
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Improves heart and liver health
There are several scientific studies which show that the methanolic leaf extract of Justicia carnea protects the liver from toxic effect of carbon tetrachloride harmful effect on the live integrity and functions. Another health benefit of ewe eje leaves is in cardiac protection and hypolipidemic effect.
Dyslipidemia is one of the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. When there is high cholesterol level in your blood, LDL- and VLDL- cholesterols are being deposited on the arterial wall of blood vessels, thereby blocking free flow of blood and increasing blood pressure. Over time, they cause atherosclerosis and myocardia infarction. The antioxidants in Justicia carnea helps protect the liver and the heart from toxic agents and free radicals. if you add justicia carnea leaves in avocado seed tea, you may just get yourself the best remedy for cardiovascular diseases.
May possess antidepressant activity
Although the antidepressant activity of justicia carnea has not been studied, and so may be hard to prove its efficacy scientifically, the leaves of justicia carnea have been used in traditional medicine to treat depression and anxiety disorder. It may be, judging from the antidepressant activity of other plant of justicia species whose activity have been studied, proper to state that justicia carnea may possess antidepressant properties. There should be further studies on the antidepressant activity of justicia carnea leaves.
Justicia carnea is used in treating hepatitis
In traditional medicine, justicia carnea is used in treating hepatitis. This may be because of its hepatoprotective activity. However, there have not been scientific backing on this claim, yet, from the antiviral properties of other species of justicia, it could be that this plant possess antiviral properties which is utilized in the treatment of hepatitis infection.
May improve you immunity
One of the health benefits of justicia carnea is in boosting immune system. The plant possess several bioactive compounds like polyphenols, which act as antioxidants or anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds beyond boosting your blood concentration, thereby enhancing the transport of nutrients to various parts of the body, also boost your immune system against several infectious diseases.
May improve epileptic condition
There are several claims that justicia carnea can prevent epilepsy and convulsion among children. This claim have not been verified. But like in the case of depression and hepatitis, other species of justicia have been studied and proven to be antiepileptic. The compound responsible for this activity is lignan. It has been shown also that other specie of justicia improve central nervous system functions and health and protect it from toxic damages. Another plant with this benefit is fertility tree.
When it comes to blood boosting and treatment of anemia, justicia carnea has proven beyond doubt to be an effective remedy. There is however little publications available on the pharmacological properties of the herbal plant. This requires more attention to properly document the various health benefits of justicia carnea.
Onyeabo, Chimaraoke & Achi, Ngozi & Chima, Ekeleme-Egedigwe & Ebere, Chidinma & Okoro, Chidinma. (2017). Haematological and biochemical studies on Justicia carnea leaves extract in phenylhydrazine induced-anemia in albino rats. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum, Technologia Alimentaria. 16. 217-230. 10.17306/J.AFS.2017.0492.
Ani, Onuabuchi & Udedi, Stanley & Asogwa, Kingsley & Enemali, Michael & Onwelumadu, Chigozie & Ikedife, Kenneth. (2020). Inhibitory Potential and Antidiabetic Activity of Leaf Extracts of Justicia carnea. International Journal of Biochemistry Research & Review. 34-45. 10.9734/ijbcrr/2020/v29i630194.
Cassani, J., Dorantes-Barrón, A. M., Novales, L. M., Real, G. A., & Estrada-Reyes, R. (2014). Anti-depressant-like effect of kaempferitrin isolated from Justicia spicigera Schltdl (Acanthaceae) in two behavior models in mice: evidence for the involvement of the serotonergic system. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 19(12), 21442–21461. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules191221442.