Blackjack (Bidens pilosa) is that one weed that has quite a reputation. In my village we know it for its use as a vegetable. And the notorious ability of its seeds to stick to your clothes as you walk around the fields. As if that is not enough of a reputation, this traditional vegetable also has a smell that is not so appealing after cooking. And this is one reason why many people may not be big fans of blackjack. I remember a colleague telling me that “mutsine haujairike” meaning that you cannot get used to blackjack. And I remember clearly having a good laugh telling her that she was just too modern. After all, mutsine vegetable never killed our ancestors who made it part of their diets. So, today I want to discuss blackjack tea benefits.
In many parts of Africa traditional vegetables are underutilised. And blackjack is one such vegetable which is usually looked at with the scorn of the modern times. Vegetables like blackjack are usually given the “the food for the poor” tag. However, “this food for the poor” can play an important part towards achieving good health. We can attribute this ability to the awesome nutritional and medicinal properties of blackjack. It is these properties that have made blackjack an herbal plant of the moment to healthy food and herb advocates. So, blackjack tea has become more popular in recent years but that does not mean you will find it at a feast any time soon.
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Where can I find blackjack?
Before we talk about blackjack tea benefits, we first need to know where you can find blackjack. This is one of the most popular weeds in. You may not know blackjack but believe me it’s probably there in your garden. What I know is that blackjack always finds a way to be where other things are growing. Here, In Zimbabwe, I have seen it in many commercial and backyard gardens as well as many fields. So, if you know what blackjack is, you won’t have a challenge getting the vegetable.
Benefits of blackjack tea
Blackjack tea is made from the fresh aerial parts and shoots of the plant. And it is one underutilized healthy tea in Africa. There are many benefits for taking blackjack tea on a regular basis. And to ease your fears of the unknown, many studies have shown that blackjack is perfectly safe with little to know side effects. However, too much of anything is harmful so it’s not advisable to over drink blackjack tea. Here are some common diseases that you can treat with black jack tea:
- Respiratory problems
Medicinal blackjack tea benefits
The use of blackjack in herbal medicine did not start in recent years. This means that blackjack has always been used by different communities and civilisations as a medicinal plant. The tea brewed from fresh or dried aerial parts and young shoots of blackjack is one of the common medicinal remedies. Here are some medicinal benefits of blackjack:
- Blackjack tea can help in suppressing the growth of harmful nematodes like roundworms.
- You can use it to get relief from harmful chronic information including the inflammation of the intestines.
- Traditionally people use blackjack to enhance the labour process and assist in child birth.
- Blackjack can help you fight some allergies by suppressing the chemicals that trigger the allergic responses.
- The aerial parts of blackjack can help control and manage type 2 diabetes when you use them to brew a tea.
- It can also be used to control obesity and weight gain, however, I believe this only works with other weight loss and weight control methods.
- Can help lower and manage hypertension and high blood pressure.
- Can help you treat gut bacteria and fight harmful bacteria like Listeria.
- Blackjack has activities against common viruses like HIV, herpes, influenza and flavivirus. Therefore, blackjack tea can help improve conditions of those infected by these viruses.
- Helps in managing and lowering blood sugar levels.
- The herbal plant can also help you protect your red blood cells from oxidative stress and damage.
- Can help you prevent or slow down the development of several cancer types.
- Protects your liver.
- Can help in treating malaria, fevers and kidney problems.
- A remedy for stomach and mouth ulcers.
- Treating diarrhea, stomach disorders and hemorrhoids.
Nutritional benefits of blackjack tea
Blackjack is known as one of the healthiest and nutritionally rich traditional vegetables out there. It owes all this to its healthy catalogue of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals. In addition, black jack is rich in nutraceuticals. Now, nutraceuticals are a type of phytochemicals that have health promoting properties. These include quercetin which is also found in black jack. Some of the nutrients you can get for taking blackjack tea include:
- Rich in folate and vitamin B 9
- Is a good source of several minerals which include calcium, phosphorous, sodium, zinc, magnesium and manganese.
- Also a good source of vitamin C, provitamin A and vitamin E.
- Rich in phytochemicals, essential amino acids and minerals.
Traditional uses of blackjack in Africa
As I have already said, blackjack has always been used in folkloric ad traditional medicine to heal different diseases. In different regions blackjack tea has different uses. Here are blackjack tea benefits in traditional medicine:
- It is used to treat dizziness in West Africa.
- Used to reduce the effects of migraine in South Africa.
- Used to treat STIs in different parts of Africa.
- In tropical areas of Africa, they use blackjack to treat headaches and rheumatism. Rheumatism refers to inflammatory diseases.
- In South Africa they use the whole plant to make a decoction tea used for treating tuberculosis.
- In Tanzania blackjack tea is used to assist the labour process and induce child birth. It is also used to induce abortions.
- People in Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania use blackjack for HIV management.
- In Zimbabwe and Kenya, for treating jaundice, dysentery and swollen spleens in Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Tanzania.
- In Congo blackjack helps in child delivery, pain relief from hernia and acts as a poisoning antidote.
- The Zulu people of South Africa use blackjack to arthritis and malaria.
- In Zimbabwe we used blackjack (“mutsine”) to treat stomach and mouth ulcers, hangover and headaches.
In other countries around the world blackjack tea helps in the treatment of ear infections, headaches, flatulence, angina, tumors, oedema and fevers.
Benefits of blackjack tea that have been proven by modern science
Whilst there are many blackjack tea benefits, most of them are obtained from folkloric medicine. There is therefore a need for scientists to prove some of these blackjack tea health benefits claims. So, in this section I have listed some of the scientific proofs on the validity on some health benefits. This is for those who wish to know if this tea or vegetable really works.
- Studies show that blackjack has notable anticancer activity. Several studies prove that blackjack extracts had the ability to fight, prevent or suppress the progression of certain cancers.
- Blackjack extracts also have a proven ability to control and maintain blood sugar levels in animal models and humans. The medicinal herb was shown to have the ability to lower the harmful effects of type 2 diabetes,
- Blackjack also has the ability to improve mild cases of diabetes and prediabetes.
- Some studies proved that blackjack tea has the ability to fight harmful bacteria like Listeria which causes Listeriosis.
- It also has antipyretic activities. An antipyretic help in reducing fevers.
- Blackjack tea also has anti-inflammatory properties. Its extracts suppress the production of compounds that help in the expression of inflammatory responses.
- Bidens pilosa also has several benefits in the gastrointestinal tract. It has the ability to suppress secretion of gastric juice.
- Bidens pilosa also has ulcer fighting capabilities due to the presence of the nutraceutical quercetin.
- In other studies, the extracts of the herbal plant showed blood pressure lowering properties. Blackjack has the ability to improve the pumping efficiency of the heart and relax blood vessels.
How to take Blackjack (Bidens pilosa)
There are different ways you can use to make the tea and enjoy the blackjack tea benefits. Many people use the leaves and the new shoots of the blackjack. Some, boil them in how water to make a fresh leaves blackjack tea brew. Some people eat the vegetable as a relish, however, its perculiar smell does not make any more popular. In Uganda people boil the fresh, dry or powdered leaves and shoots in milk to make a medicinal brew. In the Himalayan people make Ladakhi tea from the fresh leaves of blackjack.
Conclusion on the benefits of blackjack tea
Blackjack is among the indigenous plants used in herbal teas and as a vegetable. Like many other indigenous medicinal plants, people tend to underutilise blackjack However, due to blackjack tea benefits, people now use the tea to improve the quality of life and promote good health. I believe that If you take health teas like blackjack tea, you can greatly improve your health. This is because this herbal plant has many health benefits both to your body and to your immune system. I really love these herbal teas, how about you? Please do leave a comment with your thoughts on blackjack below! I would really love to know what you think.