Bitter Greens for a healthy salad that stimulates the liver
Bitter greens are a staple in the Rastafarian diet and they drink medicinal teas they concoct from the bushes and plants around them. These teas are not only curative but provide stamina and prevent sickness. Their knowledge of plants is profound and has often been handed down orally from generation to generation. Rasta teas can contain things like cinnamon leaves, mango leaves, pawpaw leaves, orange leaves, barks roots and herbs. They include bitter foods and bitter vegetables in their diet too.
From the plants listed below eating the fresh greens and using the fresh herbs from your own garden is ideal, however sometimes extracts and powders are needed for maintaining and balancing general health, and cultivation of the plant may be restricted by cultural requirements.
For instance dandelion coffee is an excellent substitute for the real thing and much better for the liver.
In the Western Societies sugar and salt are the two main flavours that we consume and the consequences of this are dire for our health. The Chinese Indians and Africans incorporate bitter and sour tastes into their diet regularly as they have had to rely on natural endogenous plants and herbs for their medicine for thousands of years. Bitter greens are ideal way to integrate bitter into the diet.
Bitter Greens Andrographis paniculata
Sanskrit names Bhunimba Kiratatikta Kalamega
Local names Bhui neem Bhunimba Nelabevu
Plant family Acanthaceae
Andrographis paniculata is an erect annual herbaceous plant, extremely bitter in taste in each and every part of the plant body. In India it is know as ‘Maha-tita” literally ‘king of bitters’. In Malaysia, it is known as Hempedu Bumi literally meaning ‘bile of the earth’ since it is the more bitter plant used in traditional medicine. Scientists have been studying this herb for thirty years.
Native to India and Sri Lanka, It is widely cultivated in southern Asia where it is used to treat infections and some diseases, often being used before antibiotics were created. It has been valued for centuries by herbalists as a treatment for upper respiratory infections, fever, sore throat and herpes. Other reported applications include its use in cases of malaria, dysentery and even snakebites. The plant grows in waste grounds and prefers moist habitat. Due to the demand the plant is now cultivated. The whole plant is used either fresh or dry.
The active constituent is andrographolide which in herbal medicine is referred to as the ‘bitter principle’. Bitter herbs generally have an affinity with the heart, lover and gall bladder. Most of them have a cooling effect on the body and can bring down a temperature.
This herb is becoming increasingly recognised in the West for its enormous potential in a far wider range of diseases. It boosts the immune system, protects against cancer, prevents blood clots and maintains efficient digestive functioning. Scientists are now looking at its potential to treat cancer, heart disease and HIV Aids.
Bitter Greens Bitter Gourd Cerasee
Momordica charantia Momordica balsamina
Local names: Bitter Gourd, carela, karela, ku gua, foo gwa, ampalaya,mara, periakatak, tsurureishi, muopdang, springkomkommer,assorossie,wunder-balsamapfel,balsamini lunghi, balsamina,cerasee,pare, bitter melon, sorci,sorossi,sorossie,sorossies, peria laut, peria,balsam apple, balsam pear, papailla,melao de sao caetano
A tropical and subtropical vine of the of the cucumber family grown for its edible fruit. A native of the tropics it is widely grown in Southeast Asia, China Africa and the Caribbean and known for it’s medicinal properties throughout the entire world in many cultures.
In the Caribbean the leaves of this bitter vegetable are boiled and then drunk as a tea for an overall purge once a week.
The bitter taste is nasty to the Western palette however it goes down warm and nice and will relieve stomach upset like no other treatment.
These bitter fruits grow on a herbaceous annual vine up to five metres. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. There are several varieties of Bitter Gourd and it is used as a medicine in many countries and called by many different names.
Like most bitter tasting goods, bitter melon stimulates digestion. While this can be helpful in people with sluggish digestion, dyspepsia, and constipation, it can sometimes make heartburn and ulcers worse. The fact that bitter melon is also a demulcent and at least mild inflammation modulator, however, means that it rarely does have these negative effect, based on clinical experience and traditional reports.
Laboratory studies have confirmed that various species of bitter melon have anti-malarial activity, though human studies have not yet been published.
Laboratory tests suggest that compounds in bitter melon might be effective for treating HIV infection. As most compounds isolated from bitter melon that impact HIV have either been proteins or glycoproteins lectins, neither of which are well-absorbed, it is unlikely that orla intake of bitter melon will slow HIV in infected people. Another realm showing the most promise related to bitter melon is as an immunomodulator. One clinical trial found very limited evidence that bitter melon might improve immune cell function in people with cancer, but this need to be verified and amplified in other research.
I can only speak for myself, I had a terrible pain in my stomach every time I drank alchohol, even a sip and nothing would relieve the pain. I tried a lot of natural helpers and nothing worked. I was doubled over with one sip of alcohol. I was scared to drink it. In the midst of one of my attacks Jah Blue said You need some cerasee and he just happened to have some fresh dried cerasee that he had brought back from Jamaica. Something that is indispensable in the medicine cabinet for a Jamaican Rasta Man. He made me a tea and I sipped it and it felt warm all the way down and the pain eased almost immediately and after two or three of these teas it never came back. Admittedly I stopped drinking any alcohol for six months. I dont know what was wrong with me but a doctor would have stuck a probe down my throat and probably prescribed all sorts of horrid medicines and it was gone with three cups of very bitter tasting tea.
We now have our cerasee tea on hand for most incomprehensible stomach complaints and as a tonic pick me up, parasite purger every now and again. Its not something you want to overdo, as it can be toxic if used the wrong way. But with some traditional first hand knowledge I was cured and am forever grateful. A cup of tea is usually enough once a week, it is available in tea bags. Chinese markets also sell bitter gourd fruits that resemble a knobbly cucumber, they can eaten steamed with onions, tomato and garlic. Bitter gourd is easy to grow, treat it like a cucumber and plant after all danger of frost has passed. Plenty of water and mulch in a fertile soil. Provide a trellis of something for it to climb on. Save the seed for next year.
Bitter Green Cichorium intybus Cichorium endivia
Chicory and Endive
Chicory is native to the Mediterranean basin.
There are two cultivated species of this genus; C.intybus, which produces the Cos like lettuce. It is eaten as a spring salad and the roots are used as a coffee substitute. Chicory is a biennial and will cross pollinate with other chicories, it will also cross with endive. The other one is C.endivia, otherwise known as endive. It is a hardy annual with frilly leaves,and to cultivate endive plant in early winter in a warm part of the garden. Plenty of moisture and deep mulching around the plants is best. You can blanch them by tying the leaves together. Endive is a self pollinating, choose the best plant and save for seed. Dont pick the leaves of this plant. You can distinguish endive from lettuce by its blue flowers.
Chicory and endive are also a bitter greens. The flower was used as a treatment in German, and is recorded in many books as an ancient german treatment for everyday ailments. It is variously used as a tonic and appetite stimulant and as a treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises. Let them go wild in the garden and use them salads with a lovely dressing.
Bitter Greens Chicorium intybus “Rosa di Chioggia
This bitter-flavored member of the chicory family has burgundy-red leaves with white ribs. Most often used in salads, radicchio can also be grilled or roasted. If desired, other chicories such as escarole can be substituted. Radicchio is truly part of the Italian culture. Over the centuries it has developed into a culinary treasure – grown, harvested and prepared with great care and passion. This beautiful member of the chicory famiy prefers to mature in cool weather, in hot weather, it tends to turn too bitter.
The vegetable has properties aiding in digestion, and acts as a purifying diuretic, tonic and laxative, while protecting the liver. Its organic juices are used in cosmetics to naturally soothe and relieve irritated skin. Like other colorful vegetables, Radicchio is high in fiber, and has an ample vitamin content rich in A and C, as well as Iron (in the green leaf varieties).
Bitter Green Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion lion’s tooth, bitterwort, wild endive, priest’s crown, doonheadclock, piss-a-bed, Irish daisy, blow ball, yellow gowan, puffball, clock flower, swine snout, Pu gong ying, fortune-teller, and cankerwort.
There are about a hundred species of dandelion.
Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they’re the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late autumn. After a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, with the broadest leaves and largest roots, are the best. Select the youngest individuals, and avoid all plants with flowers. Some people eat the greens from spring to fall, when they’re very bitter. Others boil out the summer bitterness (and water-soluble vitamins) out in two changes of water. Its all a matter of preference.
Dandelion has been used for centuries by herbalists for general detox. It was particularly used for the liver but also gall bladder, kidney and joint problems. It is also considered a blood purifier and it used for eczema and even cancer. It has been used to treat poor digestion, water retention and hepatitis.
Rocket, Roquette, Arugula
Buy Arugula Seed
Rocket makes up bitter greens and has been cultivated for two thousand years and its tender and peppery,mustardy tasting leaves have been eaten raw. A low annual herb, plant in early Spring or late Summer. It will go to seed if it doesnt get enough water. It will not cross with other brassicas.
Rocket is known to stimulate digestion.