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The cerasee plant, scientifically known as Momordica Charantia, is native to Africa and the Middle East. However, it can now be found almost in all parts of the world. The yellow fruit which the plant produces, bitter melon or bitter guard, can be eaten raw, and is cooked in many Chinese and Indian dishes.
The leaves and stem are usually boiled or drawn into a tea and taken for a number of ailments including hypertension, diabetes, parasitic worms, abdominal pains, and purging/detoxing the body and blood.
It is also used for constipation, and sometimes given to children for fevers and colds. In addition, cerasee is also used sometimes with other herbs to make a bush bath to treat skin problems like rashes and eczema. In some cases, the fresh leaves and stem are crushed and rubbed on the skin to deal with skin problems and insect bites. Cerasee is also used as a tea to reduce menstrual pains and to cure urinary tract infections.
Nutritionally, cerasee is rich in vitamins A and C, phosphorus and iron. Therefore, cerasee can be used as a mild detoxer. Its blood purging properties plus its ability to reduce constipation makes it very effective for detoxing. It is usually recommended that cerasee, when used as a tea, be taken for nine nights straight after which a break is taken.
In recent times, cerasee has become extremely commercialised and tea bags can now be found in almost all supermarkets.
In Jamaican folklore, it is proposed that cerasee tea be taken by a pregnant woman so that the newborn will be born with a good skin tone and it makes the birthing process easier. In addition, it is also recommended that the cerasee tea be taken nine nights after childbirth in order to tone up the organs involved in pregnancy and childbirth.
Overall, cerasee is a very useful herb; however, with the speculation of possible liver damage with long and continuous use, I would suggest that the cerasee tea be taken for a nine-day period and then given a break.
Source- Donavan Grant, nutritionist and wellness coach (Jamaica Observer:2016)