Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd) for Natural Health and Wellness

Ampalaya or Bitter gourd (Photo credit: wordpress)
Ampalaya or Bitter gourd (Photo credit: wordpress)
Ampalaya or Bitter gourd (Photo credit: wordpress)
Ampalaya or Bitter gourd (Photo credit: wordpress)

Bitter gourd also known as bitter gourd, balsam pear, wild cucumber is widely believed to have medical benefits. It comes with a scientific name Momordica Charantia. Momordica came from the Latin word which means to bites. This was referred to the leaves that appear to be somewhat bitten in appearance. To justify such claim many countries had developed, synthesized and turn it into a more convenient and easy to swallow forms: capsules. But what could be under such bitter tasting food that makes it salubrious?

Bitter gourd is a creeping vine that actually belonged to squash family and is usually spotted in tropical areas. Mostly it is found in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa where the weather is warm. Its vine can reach up to 5 meters long and usually requires trellis to creep along. It has dark green leaves separated by 3 to 7 lobes. Individually, each plant owns two flowers of which one is female and the other is male.

Meanwhile, the fruit has a distinction of having a wrinkled texture with a hollow portion in the inside. But often times, the appearance varies depending on the variety of the vegetable. Some have smoother textures while others are jagged. The flesh is white in color when the fruit is still young but will eventually turn to orange or yellow when it matures. When it does, the bottom end of the fruit will curl backwards and a reddish aris with seeds enclosed in it will appear. Mostly, it is best eaten when still unripe. Nevertheless, the taste is still bitter.Such flavor is due to the present compound called momordicin. The type 1 of which is present in the leaves while momordicin II is found on the fruit. Although, this type of vegetation is majorly mistaken as vegetable it is in a reality a fruit.

Bitter Melon Precautions – Understanding the Safe Consumption of Bitter Gourd or Ampalaya

Because this herb has a toxic named lectin, this has to be used with caution especially to pregnant women. This plant is known to cause abortion. This is also not allowed for lactating women because the chemical may also pass through breast milk and therefore is harmful to the infant as well. Moreover, this is not recommended for those who have low blood glucose level. Fatal effect may occur. More importantly, those who are already diagnosed with Diabetes mellitus should not take any other drugs especially when your doctor does not recommend it. Drug-drug interactions are not always the best scenario to handle. Severe hypoglycemia may possibly take place. Moreover, this herb should be taken in moderation because excessive drinking of the juice can cause gastric disturbances that either may be manifested trough diarrhea or abdominal pain.

With such immense content, such plant should be regarded with caution when one is utilizing it. It may be true that it brings many benefits and can alleviate major known diseases but still it has other compounds that might not be pleasant to one’s health. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that an ongoing research is made to further examine what is within this vegetable that could contribute to the people’ health at large.

The bitter melon fruit (Momordica charantia), also known as ampalaya, is known for its many medicinal purposes. It can also be turned into delicious cuisines. Aside from cooking ampalaya and including it in their cuisines, some powder it or extract juice from its leaves. Meanwhile, there are some who turn it into a juice or shake and drink its extract to fully get its medicinal properties. The bitter melon fruit has become a readily available alternative to some diseases. Eating this fruit coupled with a good lifestyle will indeed prolong your life and make you healthier than ever.

However, there are cases where over intake of the fruit has become toxic to a living organism. In one study, toxic effects have been seen on rats and rabbits that were used in examining the effectiveness of ampalaya as a drug. There have also been some references that reported the poisonous aspects of Momordica charantia. Taking large doses of ampalaya fruit may cause severe vomiting and purging. Some also reported that ampalaya has been the cause of the death of a child. By taking in ampalaya juice, the child suffered severe vomiting and purging which lead to death. Hence, moderation is the key in order to prevent these cases from happening. You should also be aware that the regular intake of ampalaya is 1 cup per day. You should also be aware of your everyday intake. Excessive eating and drinking of its juice could be fatal to you.

Ampalaya can easily be part of your everyday diet, so you should not be afraid of eating the bitter melon. Bitter melon fruit or ampalaya has a lot of medicinal properties that can be natural cure for diabetes and other diseases. Eating it in excess may lead to some inconveniences for you; hence, you should take everything in moderation. You should train yourself in eating this healthy plant to help you increase your immune system and eventually prolong your life. There are a lot of health benefits of ampalaya and intake of this plant should be coupled with a healthy lifestyle to gain the wonders of bitter melon fruit.

Suggested Daily Intake

It was recommended that one has to take 50 to 100 ml of the bitter melon juice dividing into two to three intakes. This is equal to almost a small sized, young bitter gourd.

Still, there is the option of choosing whatever form this plant may come, since nowadays it has been turned into capsules, tea and juice. The preference of how it is taken is dependent on one’s liking. If you prefer capsule, this has to be taken 1 gram twice a day. Nevertheless, taking it in its original form like turning it into a viand or food is still the most recommended. No nutrients are compromised in this method since it did not undertake any chemical or mechanical processes.

Ms. Pinky is a mom of 3 school children. She is a Computer Systems Engineer, an Internet Marketer, a Blogger and a Healthcare IT Consultant.

Please visit her Filipino Recipe website at – Her website on Philippine Fruits and Herbs can also be found here

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