Cerasee (Momordica charantia) medicinal herb also referred to as bitter melon, is a plant that is native to Africa, the Middle East as well as the Mediterranean region. This medicinal herb had been introduced to Brazil by way of African slaves and also from there this herb spread to the rest of Latin America, and also to the West Indies.
It is frequently used within Jamaica for many kinds of skin treatments and also as an herbal bath.
This medicinal herb reminds me so much of my grandmother, God bless her soul. She would always say, "child your blood is too sweet, it will cleanse your blood." This was because I was very much afraid of the bitterness and refused to drink it.
Her next remark was, "anything that is bitter is good for you." Today, it is one of my favourite plants and it is really a good blood cleanser. I love it.
At present it reaches as far north as Texas and also Florida, where it grows wild. This medicinal herb also grows wild in Asia where it is used for medical purposes, and also as a vegetable.
The common names for this herb are Bitter gourd, Bitter bush, Corrilla, Karela, Balsam apple, Balsam pear, Paoka, Madian apple, Mexicaine, Caprika, Bitter melon, Vegetable insulin and Achochilla.
This is a creeping herb which
grows profusely on fences and on the ground. Yellow flowers and orange
fruits are found all over the
vine. It can be a nuisance at times and requires attention if it is grown on your fence.
The fruits can be eaten, and they are very sweet when ripe. I have eaten quite a few when I was a child. The fruits are also popularly used in Chinese cooking which makes it a culinary herb.
The constituents of the leaves are momordocin, which is very bitter, fatty oil as well as resin. Bitter gourd also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, alkaloids as well as phosphorous.
The medicinal properties are emetic, analgesic, digestive, diuretic, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, purgative as well as anti-diabetic.
Females in Latin America and also the West Indies make use of the leaf for menstrual disorders and also to promote emission following childbirth. The tea is taken for nine days right after giving birth to clean out as well as tone up the vital organs involved in delivery. It is also used as an herbal approach to contraception, if you take two cups daily following intercourse, for three days. It is declared ladies who drink it each day do not get pregnant during that time. The women of the Grenadines also utilized it as a method of birth control.
As a wash, the cerasee tea is used externally for sores, rashes, skin ulcers and all skin problems including chicken pox. For itching and other skin diseases, including liver spots, if in case you do not want to have the bath, rub the vine in the palm of the hand extracting the juice, which may be used on the skin. The bath is good for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and other similar ailments.
A tea made from the vine is used for diabetes, high blood pressure, worms, colon cleansing, dysentery, bellyaches, laxative, cramps, diarrhea, malaria, purifying the blood and other serious ailments. There are those who believe that it may aid in people suffering with HIV/AIDS.
In Brazil, the tea is used as a tonic and remedy for colds, fevers and pains due to arthritis and rheumatism. In Curacao and Aruba the tea is used to lower blood pressure. In Philippines, cerasee is cultivated as a vegetable and cooked like other leafy vegetables. In Cuba, the tea is used as a remedy for colitis, liver complaints, fevers, and as a skin lotion.
A tea of the root is used to expel kidney stones. In India, the green, unripe fruits of cerasee medicinal herb are soaked in water and cooked in curry and other dishes.
The juice of the ripe fruit, which contains valuable enzymes and minerals, is taken for diabetes. It possesses a substance which behaves like insulin and therefore can aid in the reduction of blood sugar levels.
However, it is reported that cerasee medicinal herb may hide the true sugar content in both
blood and urine. So it would be wise to consult your doctor before
using this plant, especially if you trouble with diabetes.
Cerasee tea bags are now being manufactured and sold all over Jamaica for easy access. Pour one cup freshly boiled water over one tea bag. Brew for four minutes, then stir with spoon for stronger brew.
If you wish,
sweeten to taste. The cerasee leaves may be used to exfoliate and cleanse the skin.
at the University of Miami School of Medicine have found an element
called guanylate cyclase inside the ripe fruit which has the ability to
inhibit the growth of cancer caused by chemicals. This medicinal herb was also studied at
the Sloan-Kettering Institute as a possible cure for leukemia.
This is a Jamaican folk song about a young girl who did not know cerasee but boiled nightshade for her belly.
Elena an har muma go a grung. Elena start bawl fi har belly. Go home Elena! Go home Elena! Go boil cerasee fi yuh belly.
Di muma she dig, an’ she plant. But har mind just a run pon Elena. She tek up har fork, har basket, and har hoe, And go home fi go look fi Elena.
When di muma, she ketch a di yard, She see the bun-pan a fire; She tek piece-a stick and she stir, and she stir. A nightshade a come by the bundle.
Gal a wha dis yuh boil fi yuh belly? Gal a poison yuh boil fi yuh belly! Fram you born come a worl’, yuh nuh know cerasee? Gal yuh foolish! Yuh foolish! Yuh foolish!
Di muma she get some cerasee, and boil it an’ give to Elena. Elena go a bed and she sleep, and she sleep. And wake up without pain a belly.
It is a well known fact in Jamaica that this plant should be taken for nine days and then break until further use when it is necessary. Excessive use of cerasee may cause liver damage, so use with care.
Updated February 15, 2020