Native to Madagascar, the Leaf of Life plant symbolizes the regenerative power of life with its fleshy appearance. Found extensively in the Caribbean the Leaf of Life has been linked to numerous health benefits.
The Leaf of Life (Bryophyllum pinnatum) is grown in most tropical areas, including Jamaica. It can also be found in India, Brazil and parts of the United States. It is a succulent herb that grows up to 2 meters in height. It is also known as Cathedral bells in other parts of the world. The leaf of Life can retain like a sponge for dry times and it has the unique ability of growing from leaf to ait without any soil. This ability has caused it to sometimes be referred as the air plant. Other names such as miracle leaf and life leaf are due to the plants remarkable healing properties. The plant is easy to identify because of its wide leaves and jagged edges. The incredible health benefits of this plant have attracted investors to grow it on a commercial scale to cater to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
In Jamaica, because the Leaf of Life possesses antihistamine properties, it is widely used as an herbal remedy to treat respiratory issues such as asthma, colds, coughs, shortness of breath and bronchitis. It is usually used as a tea, blended in juices or eaten raw. In addition, the leaf of life is known as a great treatment for kidney stones. A 2014 study showed that leaf of Life can reduce urine oxalates which typically cause kidney stones. The same study also showed that the leaf of Life contains antimicrobial compounds that benefit the skin. The leaf of life has been used to treat minor injuries, promotes faster healing and prevent infection. The roots, stems, leaves and flowers all have therapy values and have rich antioxidant properties. This wonder of nature is a great remedy for arthritis as it can help to reduce pain. The crushed leaves of this miracle plant can bring relief for insect bites and bruises. The mashed leaves can also be prepared into a poultice and used to bandage and set broken bones, increase circulation to the area and decrease discomfort.
The leaf of life is also used to prevent and treat gastric ulcers and skin ulcers. The leaves can be used to make a juice and used topically to treat headaches, toothaches, burns and eye infections. In Jamaica, the leaf is coated with castor oil to treat wounds and ripen boils. To do this, heat the leaves over a stove or direct fire, never microwave, and apply topically to any boils or skin ulcer and leave it overnight. Do this until the boil clears.
Tea brewed from the leaf of life can help reduce high blood pressure, anxiety, menstrual pains, diabetes and improve heart health. The crushed leaves mixed with coconut oil is great for skin hydration and helps to promote a healthy scalp. In fact, regular use of the Leaf of Life can help promote hair growth.