Today, I will respond to readers' comments on the use of cerasee, momordica charantia, as outlined in my last article.
For eczema and acne
The art of healing by the elders of my time was very unusual yet, clear answers are now provided to understand why their method of application works.
Approximately a half kilo of the green herb was collected and placed into a circular zinc bath pan filled with three to four gallons of water, which was placed in the hot sun for about two to three hours until warm. The individual should then sit in the bath pan for 10 to 15 minutes using the leaves to wash gently the affected areas. This was done for seven to nine days.
Zinc bath pans are no longer available here in Jamaica, but an empty container can be used with the herb in the sun and then poured into a bathtub for soaking, and bathing the affected areas.
The daily tea served for seven days was a teaspoonful of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water, infused for five minutes. (Today cerasee tea is available in tea bags on the market shelves, as well as in bulk packages in ethnic stores.) Cerasee must not be boiled for internal use, the tea is infused.
Dairy products (milk and cheese) must be eliminated from one's diet when suffering from eczema. Stress and allergies also cause this reaction. Beta-carotene, fish oils and zinc should be added to the diet, as directed by your medical practitioner or naturopath, as zinc and beta-carotene play an important role in skin care.
Cerasee leaves and diabetes
A concerned reader brought to my attention the unfortunate results her mother had taking cerasee tea leaves regularly for diabetes and having frequent urine tests which were always good. In the late 1970s her mom was doing great until one day she almost collapsed into a diabetic coma, even though two days before, her urine test was good. Her treatment was too late and she passed away.
I thank Jennifer for raising this concern. In my little 34-page book, 'Jamaican Herbs' page 25, which was written in 1982, I distinctly mentioned under cerasee that "diabetics SHOULD NOT take cerasee as it masks the sugar content in the blood and the urine".
It was in the late 1980s that the urine tests were found as inaccurate for diabetes checks, and today blood sugar testing is still not accurate with the two-hour fasting. The best method used by doctors today is Hemoglobin AIC.
The clinical reviews on cerasee are now worth sharing, as this is one of the most popular international herbs taken for cleansing and for a plethora of conditions though it is a bitter herb.
In the Journal Advancing Caribbean Herbs in the 21st Century - II, proceedings of the seventh workshop paper presented on 'Evidence for efficacy in the use of Medicinal Plants in rural Barbados' by S. Peter Dept. of Chemistry, Division of Natural Sciences, page 36, Momordica Charantia has been shown to be composed of several compounds with confirmed anti-diabetic properties. Alcohol-extracted charantin consists of mixed steroids and was found to be more potent than the oral hypoglycaemic agent tolbutamide in an animal study. (Day L., Atlee A.S, Yuan C-S Medicine Review, Feb. 2002.)
The plant also contains insulin-like polypeptide -P (plant insulin) in the seeds and the fruit. It was found to decrease blood sugar levels when injected subcutaneous into type 1 diabetic patients. A United States patent for the aqueous extract of m.charantia containing the peptides indicative for treatment of diabetes was registered in May 2002. Another patent has also been registered for HIV and cancer inhibition. 2002-05-21 U.S Patent #6391854.
This is just one reference of five documents that I will share in later articles. As the plant is under intensive study, I am in no position to recommend taking the fruit of the plant orally for diabetes.
Dr. Diane Robertson is a pharmacist and recipient of an honorary doctorate in complementary medicine for her work in herbs; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.<