Friday, 23 December 2016

UGU, THE SECRET LEAF THAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE AND TICKING

Ugu gourd


Ugu aka Telfairia occidentalis is a member ofrcurbitaceae family, commonly found in Southern Nigeria, but it is cultivated all over West, Central and East Africa. In Nigeria the Igbos call it 'Ugu', the Yorubas call it 'ugwu' and the Cameroonians in Central Africa call it ‘ekobon’.

Scientifically it has been discovered that Ugu shoots contain high levels of potassium and iron, while the leaves contain a high amount of antioxidants and hepatoprotective and antimicrobial properties, the seeds are composed of 27% crude proteins and 53% fats.

My son carrying an Ugu gourd containing the seeds

Ugh gourd split open


In a study published in 'Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research' by Malaysian and Nigerian researchers, titled “A Review of the Pharmacological and Biological Activities of the Aerial Parts of Telfairia occidentalis Hook.f. (Cucurbitaceae).” The researchers Olorunfemi A Eseyin, Munavvar A Satta and Hassaan A Rathore, from Hypertension and Cardiovascular Physiology Research Laboratory, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University Sains Malaysia, and Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Uyo, Nigeria, noted that: “The medicinal potential of the leaf and seed (oil) of Ugu (Telfairia occidentalis) is no longer in doubt. They stated that: "It is now obvious that the plant has been proven to possess beneficial antioxidant, anti-diabetic, hepato-protective, haematological, antiplasmo- dial, antimicrobial, testiculoprotective, anticancer, antiinflammatory, anxiolytic and sedative properties."

My son carrying Ugu gourd

Ugu juice squeezed out of the leaves can be used in the management of hyperchelsterolaemia, liver problems, and impaired immune system, it has the potential to regenerate testicular damage and therefore can be used to remedy reproductive and fertility issues. Ugu is high in anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger properties, the leaves extract can be used to fight cancers and liver diseases. It's good for pregnant women suffering from anemia, they can use the leaves to strengthen their blood. It is also good for nursing mothers it helps to replenish lost blood, due to its high iron content and it is also anti malaria. Young ugu leaves mixed with coconut water and salt can be stored in bottle and used for the treatment of convulsion. It is also effective in the management of prostatic diseases, because it contains phenoilc substances. Ugu contains chemopreventive agents, used in enhancing host protective systems such as detoxification enzymes against carcinogens. Chemoprevention is one of the best strategies employed in cancer control and has evolved into one of the most exciting and promising area in cancer research.

Ugu soap

Ugu flower that produces the gourd


Cooked Ugu seed


Ugu contains high level of antioxidant components, its protein content is about 21 per-cent, and it's higher than those of other commonly used leafy vegetables. It is rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), Iron (Fe), potassium, sodium and magnesium), antioxidants, vitamins (such as thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide and ascorbic acid, phyto-chemicals such as phenols. The vitamin A content is high, and it is good in reproduction and fertility, it has the potential to regenerate testicular damage and also increase spermatogenesis.

Fresh Ugu leaves

Ugu produces a gourd that contains between 50-200 seeds depending on the size of the gourd. The seeds are high in protein and fat, and can therefore contribute to a well-balanced diet. The seed are used in making cakes which are high in protein and are suitable for fortifying foods. The oil seeds have lactating properties and are therefore in high demand by women with young babies. The seeds can be roasted or boiled and eaten like the seeds of breadfruit (Treculia); they are also sometimes used as soup thickeners. It is very rich in oil, especially unsaturated fatty acids, which form 61 per cent of the oil. the seed are a good source of four minerals required in human nutrition. The seed contains about 29 per cent oil and 30 per cent protein.
However, more research work is required to establish more observations. but I love my ugu soup.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, ugu is called 'Ewé Ìròkó' or Èfó'ròkó'in Yorùbá language.
    But due to the igbo dominant, ugu ugu, the Yorùbás are almost forgetting the Yorùbá name of it.
    Thanks so much sir, for the enlightenment.

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