IMPORTANCE OF UTAZI GONGRONEMA LATIFOLIUM AND NCHUANWU OCIMUM GRATISSIUM
The research work was focused on the possible vitamin composition of Utazi (Gongronema latifolium) and Nchuanwu (Ocimum gratissimum) leaf juice. Here, it was only the vitamin A and C that were scientifically tested for. Where upon, it was discovered that Utazi had 1.14mglml of vitamin A and 34:61mg1 100m1 of vitamin C, while Nchuanwu had 2.14mglm1 of vitamin A and 30.76mg1 100m1 of vitamin C. From the result gotten, it shows that Utazi and Nchanwu are good sources of vitamin A and C, with high industrial and medicinal prospects.
1.0.1 Utazi (Gongronema latifolium/ Bush buck), leaf vegetable and belong to the group of plants known as spices. It is of the family of ASCLEPIADACEA genus GONGRONEMA and species of LATIFOLIUM, and the vernacular name is BUSH BUCK while the botanical name GONGRONEMA lATIFOLIUM. Utazi is a climber with woody hollow glaborous stems below and characterized by greenish yellow flowers (Okolo 1987).
Gongronema latifolium, commonly called ‘utazi’ by the Igbo’s, the efik / ibibo people in South-eastern Nigeria call the leave ‘utasi’ and the Yoruba people ‘arokeke’ or ‘madumaro’ (Ugochukwu and Babady, 2002). In Ghana, the akan-asantes knows it as ‘kurutu nsurogya’. The serer in Senegal call it ‘gasub’ while the kissis, mende and temnes in sierra leone call it ‘ndondo-polole, ‘tawabembe’ and ‘ra-bilong’ respectively (Dalziel et at, 1961). They are sharp bitter and sweet and widely used as a leafy vegetable and as a spice for sauce, soups and salad (Okolo 1987, Anaso and Onochie 1999). Utazi is used in small quantity in preparing soups like Nsala soup, ugba sauce, and yam and also in garnishing dish like Abacha, Ncha, Isiewu, Nkwobi etc. The leaves are used to spice locally brewed beer. In Sierra Leone the pliable stems are used as chew sticks. The bark contains much latex and has been tasted for exploitation (Morebise et al., 2002).
Reports by various authors showed that it essential oils, saponins and pregnanes among others (Schneider et al; 1993, Morebise and Fafunso 1998, morebise et al; 202). The plant has been widely used in folk medicine for maintaining healthy blood glucose level (Okafor 1987, 1989). The plant leaves have been found very efficacious as an anti-diarrhea, and anti-tussive (Sofoware 1982, Iwu, 1993).
1.0.2 Nchuanwu (ocimum gratissimum / clove Basil), leafy vegetable and belong to the group of plant known as spices. It is of family of LAMIACEAC genus OCIMUM and species O.GRATISSIMUM and the vernacular name is CLOVE BASIL while the botanical name OCIMUM GRATISSIMUM. Nchuanwu is widely distributed in the tropics of Africa and Asia. It is a perennial plant that is woody at the base. It has average height of 1-3m high. The leaves are broad and narrowly ovate, usually 5-13cm long and 3-9cm wide. It is a scented shrub with lime-green fuzzy leaves (Wagner et al; 1999).
In Southern part of Nigeria, the plant is called “effinrin-nia” by the Yoruba,”Nchuanwu” in Igbo, while in the Southern part of Nigeria, the Hausa call it “Daidoya”. (Effraim et al; 2002).
Nutritional importance of this plant centers on it’s usefulness as a seasoning because of its aromatic flavor (C.N. Ezekwesili et at; 2004).
Nchuanwu in folk medicine, ocimum gratissimum is extensively used throughout West Africa as a febrifuge, anti-malaria and anti-convulsant. The leaf juice is used in the treatment of stomach pain and catarrh. Oil from leaves have been found to posses antiseptics, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities (Ezekwesile et al; 2004).
In the coastal area of Nigeria, the plant is used in the treatment of epilepsy (Osifo, 1992) high fever (Oliver 1980) and diarrhea (Oliver 1980 and Sofoware 1993). While in the savannah areas decoctions of the leaves are used to treat mental illness (Abdulrahman, 1992).
Nchuanwu is used by the Ibos of Southern Nigeria in the management of the baby cord. It is believed to keep the baby’s cord and wound surface sterile. It is used in the treatment of fungal infections, fever, cold and catarrh (Iwu, 1986).
They play quite significant role in our diets of the population because they are major sources of essential macro nutrients, micro nutrients and vitamins.
Due to their seasonal nature and high moisture content, there is need therefore to develop an appropriate technology for their preservation so as to guarantee their availability all year round (Eze and Chibuzor 2008).