Also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd, ampalaya’s scientific name is Momordica charantia. It is mainly a tropical vine that is widely grown in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. As the name suggests, ampalaya has a bitter taste and is even believed to be one of the most bitter vegetables in the world. However, ampalaya leaves medicinal uses outweigh its undesirable taste.
The ampalaya plant is grown all throughout the Philippines. While it is mostly cultivated, some wild types can be found in remote mountain areas. This crawling vine can grow up to 5 meters.
The extracts of ampalaya can effectively reduce blood glucose as it contains polypeptide-P, an insulin-like substance. It is commonly used as a diabetes treatment, particularly Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the use of ampalaya leaves in treating diabetes dates back to early Filipino and Chinese traditions.
How does it work?
For cooking purposes, the ampalaya fruit and leaves are normally found in many Asian markets, which can be bought by bundle or by kilo. Since it is sometimes too bitter for some people, many prefer to take it in capsule form.
Precautions & Warnings
When taking ampalaya leaves, only consume them in proper amount. The maximum amount of fresh leaves juice you should take is only one cup per day.
How safe is ampalaya?
If consumed as part of a dish, it is usually safe. However, when taken for medicinal purposes, consult your doctor.
Excessive use of ampalaya leaves may result in hypoglycemia. Remember that ampalaya contains an insulin-like substance, so there is a great tendency that your blood sugar can be lowered to a dangerous level.
If you experience skin irritation or rashes after consuming ampalaya, consult your doctor. For difficulty in breathing, stop the use of the ampalaya plant immediately and seek medical help. This may be an indication of an allergic reaction to any of the components of the ampalaya plant.
Special precautions & warnings
Studies show that the bitter component of the ampalaya leaves can cause spontaneous abortion or miscarriage. If you are an expectant mother, do not consume this herbal medicine.
Generally, the ampalaya fruit and leaves are safe for eating as cooking ingredients. When it comes to using ampalaya leaves as herbal medicine, there are certain recommendations to follow. The key here is to take this herb in moderation.
If you have diabetes, medical practitioners recommend not to replace your current medication with ampalaya leaves teas and capsules as these are not yet considered substitutes for standard anti-diabetic medication.
A normal side effect for some users include a notable increase in bowel frequency.
However, even if you do not experience any side effects, that does not mean that there is no effect at all. Diabetic patients are highly encouraged to discuss ampalaya leaves medicinal uses with their physicians first before taking it as an alternative medical treatment.
If you are under medication for diabetes, heart problems, or hypertension, taking ampalaya leaves as a substitute may have an adverse effect on the efficacy of your current medication. Herbal medicine may aggravate or counteract its effect. Consult your doctor before using any herbal medicine.
For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, there are studies that indicate the abortive action of ampalaya leaves, especially when taken in large doses. If you are pregnant, do not take more than what you actually consume as food.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your herbalist or doctor before using this medication.
What is the usual dose for ampalaya leaves?
As a type of herbal tea, you can use ampalaya leaves, seeds, and flowers. Steep the components in 4 cups of boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside and strain after cooling. You can take this tea at one cup a day.
As a capsule or tablet, the ampalaya leaves are dried and crushed until they form a powdery substance. This is then placed inside a capsule or made into a tablet. Since dried leaves, seeds, and flowers are more potent, use only at half a dosage than herbal teas.
Ampalaya fresh leaves may also be juiced. Take one tablespoon per day to effectively manage and improve glucose for the treatment of diabetes.
What form does ampalaya come in?
Ampalaya extracts are conveniently available in tablets, capsules, or tea. You can find these products in herb shops and health food stores.
Fresh leaves may also be juiced, while dried leaves may be steeped in hot water and consumed like tea.
If you are considering the use of ampalaya leaves, it is recommended that you consult your doctor.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.