THE AMPALAYA (also known as Bitter Melon/ Bitter Gourd)
This tropical plant which goes by many names, is commonly grown for its edible fruit, which is probably among the most bitter of all vegetables on earth.
It is consumed as a dish , as a tea (leaves) or powderized and formed into capsules.
Bitter gourd predominantly grows in tropical areas, including parts of Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, where it is used both as food as well as a medicine. The plant's fruit truly lives up to its name, because it really tastes bitter. Although the seeds, leaves, and vines of this fruit have different uses, the fruit is considered as the safest and most predominantly used part of the plant in traditional herbal medicine.
Until recently, bitter gourd has been noted to be a potent herbal medicine for a lot of ailments, particularly in treating diabetes. The Philippine variety is known for its more potent anti-diabetic components.
This fruit is composed of a mixture of flavonoids and alkaloids which make the pancreas produce insulin that controls the blood sugar levels in diabetics. Aside from its touted medicinal value, it's also a very wonderful source of vitamins A, B and C, iron, folic acid, phosphorous and calcium. Ampalaya is a common herb used in Chinese herbology too.
The fruit's leaves are often used for children's coughs and are utilized in the treatment of skin diseases, sterility in women, as a parasiticide, an antipyretic, as well as a purgative. Like most bitter-tasting fruits and vegetables, bitter gourd stimulates digestion and can be very potent in people with dyspepsia and constipation.
Health Benefits of Ampalaya:
Ampalaya is noted to be an effective component in herbal medicine, and the fruit is known to help treat, or alleviate the symptoms of rheumatism and gout and ailments of the spleen and liver. It also is effective in helping lower the body's blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Bitter gourds are very low in calories but dense with precious nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is rich in iron, contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana.
Bitter melon contains a unique phyto-constituent that has been confirmed to have a hypoglycemic effect called charantin. There is also another insulin-like compound known as polypeptide P which have been suggested as insulin replacement in some diabetic patients.
Few other fruits/vegetables offer medicinal properties for these ailments like bitter melon does.
Blood disorders: Bitter gourd juice is highly beneficial for treating blood disorders like blood boils and itching due to toxemia. Mix 2 ounces of fresh bitter gourd juice with some lime juice. Sip it slowly on an empty stomach daily for between four and six months and see improvement in your condition.
Cholera: In early stages of cholera, take two teaspoonfuls juice of bitter gourd leaves, mix with two teaspoonfuls white onion juice and one teaspoonful lime juice. Sip this concoction daily till you get well.
Diabetes mellitus: Bitter melon contains a hypoglycemic compound
(a plant insulin) that is highly beneficial in lowering sugar levels in blood and urine. Bitter melon juice has been shown to significantly improve glucose tolerance without increasing blood insulin levels.
Energy: Regular consumption of bitter gourd juice has been proven to improve energy and stamina level. Even sleeping patterns have been shown to be improved/stabilized.
Eye problems: The high beta-carotene and other properties in bitter gourd makes it one of the finest vegetable-fruit that help alleviate eye problems and improving eyesight.
Hangover: Bitter melon juice may be beneficial in the treatment of a hangover for its alcohol intoxication properties. It also help cleanse and repair and nourish liver problems due to alcohol consumption.
Immune booster: This bitter juice can also help to build your immune system and increase your body's resistance against infection.
Piles: Mix three teaspoonfuls of juice from bitter melon leaves with a glassful of buttermilk. Take this every morning on empty stomach for about a month and see an improvement to your condition. To hasten the healing, use the paste of the roots of bitter melon plant and apply over the piles.
Psoriasis: Regular consumption of this bitter juice has also been known to improve psoriasis condition and other fungal infections like ring-worm and athletes feet.
Respiratory disorders: Take two ounces of fresh bitter melon juice and mix with a cup of honey diluted in water. Drink daily to improve asthma, bronchitis and pharyngitis.
Toxemia: Bitter gourd contains beneficial properties that cleanses the blood from toxins. Sip two teaspoonfuls of the juice daily to help cleanse the liver. Also helpful in ridding jaundice for the same reasons.
Choose unripe bitter melons that are firm, like how you would a cucumber. Avoid those that have turned orange or have soft spots. Ripe bitter melons can be excessively bitter.
Store bitter melons in the vegetable bin in the refrigerator which has the right temperature. It should keep for three to four days.
Keeping bitter melons at room temperature or with other fruits and vegetables will hasten the melon to ripen and become more bitter, due to the emission of ethylene gas.
Clean your bitter melon under cold running water and brush with a soft vegetable brush. To prepare, slice the melon length-wise and scoop out the seeds. To lessen the bitter flavor, soak it in salt water for about half an hour before juicing/cooking.
The smaller variety is more bitter than the bigger one. To help make bitter gourd juice more palatable, take it with honey, or add carrot or apple juice. For diabetics, drink the juice with green apple juice.
How To Prepare A Herbal Ampalaya Mixture.
As the bitter fruit is famous for its many medicinal attributes, there are also other unique ways in preparing mixtures, drinks or solutions made from ampalaya. For cough, fever, worms, diarrhea, diabetes, drink a spoonful every day of grounded and juiced ampalaya leaves. For other health conditions, the fruit and leaves can both be juiced and taken orally. For wounds, burns and other skin diseases, you may apply the fruit's warmed leaves to the affected area.
Aside from the benefits mentioned above, bitter gourd is also an effective digestive agent that works by properly stimulating the secretion of gastric juices. It also aids in stimulating the liver for proper secretion of bile juices that are essential for the metabolism of body fat.
Taking juice made from bitter gourd also helps in the treatment of constipation, which is mainly caused by unhealthy eating habits and daily dietary practices. This fruit not only is good at relieving an indigestive condition, but also aids in treating constipation, by improving the movement of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as improving absorption in the intestines.
Do not consume more than two ounces of bitter melon, or more than two melons a day. Excessive consumption may cause mild abdominal pain or diarrhea. Diabetics taking hypoglycemic drugs will need to alter the dosage of their drugs if they consume bitter melon on a regular basis. Please consult your doctor.
Pregnant women should avoid taking too much bitter gourd or its juice as it may stimulate the uterus that may lead to preterm labor.