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Ampalaya Leaves as Herbal Medicine: All You Need to Know

Uses|Precautions & Warnings|Side Effects|Interactions|Dosage
Ampalaya Leaves as Herbal Medicine: All You Need to Know

Also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd, ampalaya’s scientific name is Momordica charantia. Tropical regions such as Southeast Asia and the Caribbean grow this plant. As the name suggests, ampalaya has a bitter taste. In fact, many believe it 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, especially mountainous regions. This crawling vine can grow up to 5 meters.

Uses

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?

Typically, ampalaya pairs well with meat, vegetables, and seasonings. Alternatively, you can prepare tea by boiling the leaves. However, many find the bitter taste unappealing. Because of this, capsules with powdered ampalya are available.

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.

Hypoglycemic effect

Excessive use of ampalaya leaves may result in hypoglycemia. Remember that ampalaya contains an insulin-like substance, therefore watch out for symptoms of low blood sugar such as dizziness, irritability, and fainting.

ampalaya leaves

Allergic reaction

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.

Side Effects

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.

For people with diabetes and currently taking medications, do not replace these with ampalaya products or food. Ampalaya has blood sugar lowering properties, however, it cannot replace medications for more advanced diabetes. Talk to your doctor before adding ampalaya to your diet or medication regimen.

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.

Interactions

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.

Dosage

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.

Ampalaya supplements are a mixture of fruit, seed, and leaves. The next step is drying and pulverizing. Additionally, other herbs and additives may be included. The powdered mixture goes into capsules or drink mixes. Since dried leaves, seeds, and flowers are more potent, use only at half a dosage than herbal teas.

Alternatively, use fresh ampalaya leaves to make juice. 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.

Before adding ampalaya to manage your diabetes, it is best to talk to your doctor for approval.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Antidiabetic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and its medicinal potency https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027280/ Accessed April 28, 2021

Momordica charantia, a Nutraceutical Approach for Inflammatory Related Diseases https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/451026 Accessed April 28, 2021

Ampalaya/Bitter Melon Herbal Medicine. http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/articles/ampalaya.htm. Accessed April 24, 2020.

Uses of Ampalaya Leaves. https://healthfully.com/119962-uses-ampalaya-leaves.html. Accessed April 24, 2020.

Ampalaya. https://pharmacyinformatics2014-csab.blogspot.com/2014/07/ampalaya.html. Accessed April 24, 2020.

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD on May 18, 2020
Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD
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