Uses of Ampalaya

Check out other herbal medicinal plants.
Check out other herbal medicinal plants.

The uses of ampalaya encompass a number of herbal medicines used during ancient times. This herb has been part of folklore medicine since Philippine natives used the fruit as a cure for a variety of ailments.

Description of Ampalaya

Ampalaya, or Momordica charantia, is a climbing vine. The vine grows as large as five meters and has tendrils that are 20 centimeters in length, on average. The leaves of the pant are heart shaped. Each leaf is between five and ten centimeters wide.

The ampalaya plant mainly grows in the tropics and subtropics environments. A popular fruit in the Philippines, ampalaya fruit is green and oblong in shape. The ends are pointed. When the seeds mature within the fruit, the pointed edges become wrinkled and eventually burst open. The seeds from the plant are flat.

In terms of taste, the ampalaya fruit itself is edible and has a bitter taste to it. In fact, its name loosely translates to "bitter melon." This bitter taste comes from the momordicin within the fruit. Some claim that ampalaya fruit is some of the most bitter of all types of fruits and vegetables.

The Uses of Ampalaya for Health

Ampalaya is an alternative medicine; the Philippine Department of Health endorses this fruit as a natural, alternative herbal medicine for liver problems. Scientific evidence that ampalaya is healthful is not yet available. However, there are numerous recommendations for how to use this fruit for health benefits.

  • Diabetes: Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics may see improvements to their health by regularly consuming ampalaya. You can eat the fruit and the leaves. People believe that this vegetable helps to improve the body's ability to manage glucose.
  • Stomach Ache: By extracting the juice from the ampalaya leaves, the juice is utilized for a natural cure for stomachaches. In the Philippines, people use this juice to treat an assortment of digestive and stomach ailments including chronic colitis, diarrhea, dysentery and to rid the body of intestinal parasites. To use ampalaya for this purpose, take a spoonful of the juice three times per day as needed.
  • Skin Irritations: In the Philippines, people use the seeds to treat a variety of skin conditions including burns, open wounds and rashes. To do this, they take the seeds from the fruit and pound them. This forms a soft paste. Then, they place the paste on the wound and allow it to remain there as a topical ointment. You can apply it daily as needed.
  • Coughing and Colds: Another method for using ampalaya is as a natural remedy for coughing and mild to moderate colds. To do this, users extract the juice from the vegetable and the leaves. Taking a teaspoon of the juice three times per day, as needed, can cure a cough.

Some recent studies show that ampalaya may be helpful in treating HIV infections. Though further testing is necessary, some trials find that bitter melon helps to improve immune cell function in those with HIV and with cancer.

Other Uses for Ampalaya

Although it has reference as an herbal remedy, many use ampalaya in meals. Experiment with using it in dishes. The leaves, fruit and seeds are consumable.

Uses for Bitter Melon
  • The Chinese use it in a variety of soups and teas, as a bitter additive.
  • In India, ampalaya is prepared alongside potatoes and served with yogurt. Another way to serve ampalaya is as thoran. Thoran is a mixture of ampalaya, coconut, theeyal and pachadi.
  • A traditional Pakistani way too prepare ampalaya is to serve it with onions. Individuals also make it as a ampalaya curry.
  • In the Philippines, it is used as a stir-fry with ground beef and oyster sauce. In some cases, eggs or diced tomatoes will be an addition to it. They also prepare it with string beans, lima beans, eggplant and okra.
  • In Nepal, the ampalaya is pickled.
  • They are friable, as they are in Taiwan.
  • In Malaysian, the bitter melon dish most often prepared contains sambal, chili peppers, onion and ampalaya.

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Uses of Ampalaya