Editan Leaf: Health Benefits & Side Effects of Lasianthera Africana Leaf

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Editan leaf is a vegetable plant that is widely used in the preparation of a traditional soup called Editan soup. The soup is popular among the Efik, Ibibio, and Annang ethnic groups in Nigeria, especially in the Cross River and Akwa-Ibom States. The leaf is obtained from the plant Lasianthera africana, which belongs to the family Icacinaceae.

The leaf has a bitter taste, so it is usually squeezed or washed with potash to reduce the bitterness before cooking. The Lasianthera Africana leaf has various health benefits and some side effects that you should know about.

In this article, we will explore the history, origin, nutritional facts, health benefits, side effects, and extract of editan leaf. If you’re ready to learn everything about Editan Leaf, continue reading!

Editan Leaf: Health Benefits & Side Effects of Lasianthera Africana Leaf

History & Origin of Editan Leaf

Editan leaf is native to the tropical regions of Africa, especially in Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Zaire. It can grow as a bush or short tree up to 15 metres high. The leaves are spaced out alternately on branches. They have a basic oval shape with toothed edges. The flowers are small, with five white or cream petals. The fruit looks like berries that turn red or purple when ripe.

The Efik people of Cross River State are credited with the origin of editan soup, which is made with editan leaf and palm oil. The Ibibio and Annang people of Akwa Ibom State and other parts of Nigeria also eat the soup. The soup is usually served with pounded yam, fufu, or garri. 

The soup is rich in flavour and nutrients and is considered a delicacy by many across Cross River, Akwa-Ibom State, and other parts of Nigeria.

Nutritional Facts About Editan Leaf

Lasianthera africana (Editan) is a highly nutritious plant that contains various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre. The nutritional value of 100 grammes of Editan leaf contains: 

Editan Leaf: Health Benefits & Side Effects of Lasianthera Africana Leaf

  1. Energy: 248.64Kj
  2. Calories: 59.347Kcal
  3. Fat: 1.627g
  4. Protein: 4.627g
  5. Carb: 5g
  6. Fiber: 3.1g
  7. Water:80.517g
  8. Calcium: 185.735mg
  9. Iron: 7.3mg
  10. Magnesium: 42.515mg
  11. Phosphorus: 41.33mg
  12. Potassium: 221.6mg
  13. Sodium: 140.035mg
  14. Zinc: 5.4mg
  15. Copper: 3.23mg
  16. Manganese: 2.23mg
  17. Vitamin A, RAE: μg
  18. Retinol:μg
  19. Carotene, beta:646.4μg
  20. Vitamin D: μg
  21. Thiamin, B1: mg
  22. Riboflavin, B2: mg
  23. Niacin, B3: mg
  24. Vitamin B6: mg
  25. Folate, B9: μg
  26. Vitamin B12: μg
  27. Vitamin C: 35.19mg
  28. Ash: 2.13g
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The leaf also contains other compounds such as alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, phenols, and terpenoids. These compounds have various biological activities such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, anti-ulcer, anti-malarial, anti-hypertensive, and anti-oxidant.

Health Benefits of Editan Leaf

Editan leaf has many health benefits due to its nutritional and phytochemical composition. Some of the health benefits are:

Editan Leaf for Weight Loss

Editan leaf is low in calories and high in fibre, which can help you feel full and reduce your appetite. Fibre also helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and crashes that can lead to cravings and overeating. Additionally, the leaf contains saponins, which can inhibit the absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol and promote their excretion from the body. This can help you lower your body fat percentage and improve your cardiovascular health.

Editan Leaf for Diabetes

The leaf can help you manage your blood sugar levels and prevent or treat diabetes. It contains polyphenols and alkaloids that have hypoglycemic effects, meaning they can lower your blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin secretion or enhancing insulin sensitivity. The leaves also contain magnesium and potassium, which are essential minerals for regulating your blood pressure and preventing complications such as hypertension and kidney damage.

Editan Leaf for Hypertension

Editan can help you lower your blood pressure and prevent or treat hypertension. The leaf contains potassium, which is a natural vasodilator that relaxes your blood vessels and reduces their resistance to blood flow. This can help you lower your systolic and diastolic blood pressure and improve your heart function. They also contain anthraquinones, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet effects that can prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Editan Leaf for Cancer

Editan leaf can help you prevent or fight cancer by inhibiting the growth and spread of cancer cells. They contain polyphenols and terpenes that have anticancer effects by inducing apoptosis (cell death), arresting the cell cycle (cell division), modulating gene expression (cell function), and inhibiting angiogenesis (blood vessel formation). Lasianthera Africana also contains vitamin C and vitamin E, which are powerful antioxidants that can scavenge free radicals and protect your cells from oxidative stress and DNA damage.

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Editan Leaf for Immunity

Lasianthera Africana can help you boost your immune system and fight infections. The leaf contains vitamin C and vitamin A, which are essential vitamins for enhancing your immune response and protecting your mucous membranes from pathogens. Lasianthera Africanaf also contains cardiac glycosides, which have immunomodulatory effects by stimulating the production and activity of white blood cells and antibodies. All these combined can help you prevent or treat common colds, flu, cough, sore throat, and other respiratory infections.

Editan Leaf for Skin

Lasianthera Africana can help you improve your skin health and appearance. Editan contains vitamin A and vitamin E, which are vital vitamins for maintaining skin integrity and elasticity. Vitamin A can help you prevent or treat acne, wrinkles, dryness, and sun damage by stimulating collagen synthesis and cell renewal. Vitamin E can help you moisturise, heal, and protect your skin from inflammation and free radical damage. Lasianthera Africana also contains polyphenols and anthraquinones, which have anti-ageing and skin-lightening effects by inhibiting melanin synthesis and tyrosinase activity.

Editan Leaf for Hair

This leaf can help you promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. Lasianthera Africana contains iron and zinc, which are important minerals for nourishing your hair follicles and preventing hair loss. The leaf also contains vitamin C and folic acid, which are essential vitamins for synthesising collagen and keratin, the main proteins that make up your hair structure. Lasianthera Africana can help you strengthen, thicken, and lengthen your hair.

Side Effects of Editan (Lasianthera Africana) Leaf

Editan is safe to consume in moderate amounts as part of a balanced diet. However, some people may experience some side effects or allergic reactions to Lasianthera Africana. Some of the possible side effects are:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or stomach upset due to the bitter taste or the presence of saponins or alkaloids
  • Hypotension, dizziness, or fainting due to the vasodilating effect of potassium or anthraquinones.
  • Hypoglycemia, fatigue, or headache due to the hypoglycemic effect of polyphenols or alkaloids
  • Bleeding, or haemorrhage due to the anti-platelet effect of anthraquinones.
  • Interference with medication absorption or metabolism due to the binding effect of saponins or the enzyme-inhibiting effect of polyphenols.

To avoid these side effects, you should consult your doctor before consuming editan leaf if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medication. It would be best if you also washed and squeeze Lasianthera Africana thoroughly before cooking to reduce the bitterness and the concentration of phytochemicals.

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Editan Leaf Extract

Editan leaf extract is a concentrated form of editan leaf that is obtained by extracting the active compounds from the fresh or dried leaves using water, alcohol, or other solvents. Editan leaf extract is usually sold as a powder, capsule, tablet, or liquid that can be consumed as a supplement or added to food or drinks. Editan leaf extract has similar health benefits and side effects as editan leaf but may have higher potency and bioavailability.

Editan leaf extract may be beneficial for people who want to enjoy the health benefits of editan leaf without having to cook or eat the bitter vegetable. However, editan leaf extract may also have higher risks of toxicity or adverse reactions due to the higher concentration of phytochemicals. Therefore, editan leaf extract should be used with caution and under medical supervision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Editan Leaf Called in English?

The leaf is called Lasianthera africana in English. It is also known as nkanka in Igbo.

Is Editan Leaf Bitter?

Yes, editan leaf has a bitter taste due to the presence of phytochemicals such as saponins and alkaloids. The bitterness can be reduced by squeezing or washing the editan leaf with potash before cooking.

How Do I Store Editan Leaf?

You can store the leaf in the refrigerator or freezer for up to a week or more, depending on the condition of the fridge and power supply. Make sure to wash and dry the leaf before storing it in airtight containers or plastic bags.

Can Editan Leaves Be Dried?

Yes, you can dry Editan leaves by spreading them on a tray and exposing them to sunlight. Make sure to turn the leaves occasionally to ensure they are dried properly, then store the dried editan leaves in a cool, dry, and dark place.

How Do You Preserve Fresh Editan Leaves?

You can preserve fresh Editan leaves by washing them in water for a few minutes and then storing the leaves in the refrigerator or freezer, as mentioned above. This will help retain the colour, flavour, and nutrients of the editan leaves. 


Lasianthera africana, commonly known as editan leaf, is a vegetable plant native to tropical Africa. In Nigeria, it is used to make a traditional soup called editan soup, which is popular among the Efik, Ibibio, and Annang ethnic groups.

Editan leaf has various potential health benefits, including aiding weight loss, managing diabetes, preventing hypertension, boosting immunity, improving skin and promoting hair growth. It also contains compounds that may help prevent cancer.

However, the leaf can cause some side effects like nausea, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, bleeding risks, and interactions with medications. 

In all, the leaf is a nutritious traditional vegetable with a range of purported medicinal properties, but it also requires caution due to its potential side effects. More research is still needed to validate its health claims and establish safe dosages fully.