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Many people around the world use natural remedies to treat a variety of health conditions, from diabetes to high blood pressure.
Cerasee tea is a natural remedy traditionally used in the Caribbean.
What is cerasee tea?
Cerasee tea is a type of bush tea — a tea made from local plants. It’s typically made by boiling fresh leaves and stems of a wild variety of Momordica charantia, or bitter melon plant, which is known as cerasee in Jamaica. You can also purchase premade cerasee tea bags (1Trusted Source).
Besides the stem and leaves, the bitter melon plant bears wart-covered, bitter-tasting fruits that can be enjoyed cooked or raw. They’re a popular ingredient in Asian dishes.
The fruit, leaves, and seeds of the bitter melon plant have been shown to have medicinal properties and are used as traditional medicine in many parts of the world. For example, cerasee tea is a popular herbal treatment in the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica.
In fact, a 2020 survey in 345 people from Jamaica found that cerasee was among the most reported herbal medicines used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.
In the Caribbean, the tea is used to treat a number of ailments, ranging from high blood pressure to constipation.
The tea is also purported to have detoxifying and purifying properties, which is why some people use it in an effort to rid their bodies of toxins. That said, the science behind removing so-called toxins from your body via special diets or drinks isn’t supported by science.
While studies have found that supplementing with parts of the M. charantia plant, including fruit extracts, may benefit certain populations, no studies have specifically investigated the effects of cerasee tea.
Does it provide health benefits?
Every part of the bitter melon plant contains medicinal compounds. In fact, scientists have identified more than 200 compounds from the fruit, seeds, leaves, roots, and vines of the plant, many of which may benefit your health.
For example, the stems, leaves, and fruits contain plant compounds called saponins, mostly in the form of triterpenoid saponins, which are thought to provide antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
One 2008 test-tube study found that leaf extract of the bitter melon plant had powerful antioxidant activity, which may help protect against cellular damage.
Another study also confirmed the antimicrobial and antiviral properties of the leaf extract, demonstrating its ability to inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli and Bacillus cereus bacteria, both of which can cause illness in humans.
Furthermore, it’s speculated that extracts from bitter melon leaves may have anticancer properties.
For example, rodent and test-tube studies have demonstrated that bitter melon leaf extract may be effective against certain types of cancer, including prostate, lung, stomach, cervical, and skin cancer. However, research in humans is lacking.
Many people in the Caribbean use cerasee tea to treat diabetes. Although the fruit extract and pulp of bitter melon have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, research on the effect of the plant’s leaves and stems, as well as on cerasee tea, is limited.
Ultimately, even though cerasee tea likely provides a number of plant compounds that may provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, it’s unclear whether drinking the beverage has any significant effects on human health.
While cerasee tea is frequently consumed in the Caribbean and may offer some health benefits, there are potential risks to consider.
For example, bitter melon leaves have been used to induce abortion and prevent childbirth. The plant also has antifertility activity and may affect hormone levels in women and sperm production in men.
Other parts of the bitter melon plant, such as the fruit and seeds, may also cause bleeding, contractions, and pregnancy loss in women.
Therefore, pregnant people and those trying to conceive should not consume cerasee tea or any other bitter melon products. It’s also not recommended during breastfeeding.
Ingesting bitter melon may also lead to extremely low blood sugar levels, which can be fatal in extreme cases.
What’s more, animal research suggests that ingesting bitter melon leaf extract can cause low levels of hemoglobin — a protein that carries oxygen in your blood — which can lead to anemia.
Also, studies show that many parts of the bitter melon plant, including the fruit, leaves, and seeds, contain potentially toxic substances that may cause adverse side effects. As such, take caution when using any bitter melon products, including cerasee tea.
Research on the potential adverse effects of ingesting cerasee tea or other products containing the leaves and stems of the M. charantia plant is limited, especially in humans. More studies are needed to determine the safety of drinking cerasee tea.
Consult your healthcare professional before consuming any bitter melon products, including those made with bitter melon leaves and stems, such as cerasee tea.
The bottom line
Cerasee tea is a popular bush tea consumed in the Caribbean. It’s made with the leaves and stems of the bitter melon plant, which contains many beneficial plant compounds.
Although consuming various parts of the bitter melon plant has been associated with some benefits in limited test-tube and animal studies, human research is scarce.
Plus, bitter melon products have been linked to potentially dangerous side effects, including anemia, pregnancy loss, and low blood sugar levels. Therefore, it’s important to consult your healthcare professional before using any bitter melon products, including cerasee tea. (Healthline.com)