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Cerasee: The Sweet Truth About This Bitter Little-Known Medicinal Weed

Updated on July 3, 2017
Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

In addition to being a certified herbalist and aromatherapy consultant, Gina finds the unrelenting allure of gardening very strong.

Cerasee: No Regular Weed

A while back I had this healing vine growing along my fence. My neighbor thought that it was just a weed, and I witnessed her using Round-up on it. Of course, within days it was completely dead. I explained to her that it was actually medicine and that if she saw it again, to not destroy the plant. She apologized, and understood.

This vine is called cerasee. They are growing with a vengeance in my yard again, producing lots of fruit, also. My youngest son and I both love the fruit.

At first glance it looks like a weed, but cerasee is no regular weed.

This weed is chock-full of medicinal benefits, and deserves some respect.

Cerasee leaf and fruit

Opened cerasee fruit and leaf
Opened cerasee fruit and leaf | Source

Have you ever heard of cerasee?

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Bush Medicine

I was born in Grand Cayman, but raised in Jamaica, and I remember growing up that whenever I did not feel well my Grandmother or other guardian would go into the yard for some "bush medicine."

One of those "bush medicines" was cerasee.

The plant pops up all over Central and South Florida, especially when it rains. To many it is just an annoying weed, but to those of Caribbean descent, we know of the medicinal value of this somewhat annoying vine.

Jamaicans, and people throughout the Caribbean, have been harvesting the vine as well as the fruit for many, many years. In fact, when I was growing up in Jamaica, this was given to me on a regular basis for a "clean-out." I remember being tricked by my uncles, who managed to convince me that it was honey and I gulped it down really fast. I still remember that.

Cerasee vine

Cerasee vine almost taking over my bougainvillea bush
Cerasee vine almost taking over my bougainvillea bush | Source

What is cerasee?

Cerasee is probably one of the most bitter medicines, feared by most people from the Caribbean (and anyone else who tries it) because of its taste, but one that is very good for you.

Cerasee, or bitter melon, has so many healing properties that researchers have been studying an enzyme in the ripe fruit and the leaves that can inhibit growth of cancer cells, called kugua glycoside.

Cerasee is a bitter herb whose leaves and vines are used to make a tea:

  • to treat parasitic worms
  • to treat liver problems
  • to treat diabetes
  • to treat skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema
  • to aid with high blood pressure
  • to ease bellyaches and menstrual cramps
  • with detoxifying properties
  • used as a blood and body cleanser or as a ‘wash out’ to purge the body
  • used as a tonic
  • to detox the body of harmful toxins thereby increasing energy, vitality and stamina
  • to aid ulcers (stomach and duodenum), bile and digestive disorders
  • which is good for all joint ailments, such arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and other similar ailments
  • known to settle the nerves
  • to aid fatigue.

Children can be given this tea:

  • to relieve colds
  • to reduce fevers
  • to ease constipation.

Cerasee is rich in:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • carotene
  • calcium
  • iron
  • phosphorous
  • alkaloids
  • lutein and zeaxanthin which both improve eyesight

The reddish seeds of the fruit help with:

  • iron-hard bones
  • overall incredible health

Cerasee vine with unopened fruit

Source

Have you had cerasee tea?

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An Acquired Taste

The bitter flavor of cerasee is definitely an acquired taste, but it has so many medicinal benefits that I would hope that one does not shy away from it because of the taste.

When I was a young girl growing up in Jamaica, we had to drink this at certain times throughout the year. Cleansing was an important ritual. We tried sweetening it with sugar, honey and even with condensed milk, but there is only so much honey and sugar you can put in. The bitter taste still remained, so we learned to drink it really fast.

You can purchase this medicinal herb in supermarkets. It is dried and sold in plastic wraps or sold as tea bags.

Cerassee Tea
Cerassee Tea

Whenever my vines are not available or I have no dried product left, this is the item that I buy. It is not quite as bitter as the fresh leaves, but it still provides the benefits stated.

 

Want to try planting it? Once planted, you will not need to plant again. It will reseed itself, if you leave one of the fruit on it to ripen, open.

UPDATE: It's Summer 2017, and I am getting ready to harvest more cerasee, but I wanted you to see how many plants have seeded themselves in my garden.

© 2016 Gina Welds Hulse

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    • profile image

      Furaha Youngblood 4 months ago

      Thanks for this info. I live in Panama and I'll look for it. BTW, please tell your neighbor not to use Round-Up on anything; it's been proven to be carcinogenic. In fact, there's a world-wide boycott of Monsanto products because of the enormous damage its chemicals are causing throughout the world.

    • profile image

      Bell Jackson 9 months ago

      Ceracee worked wonders on the flu I had last year. I didn't boil though, I pulled it from the gate, rinsed it, rolled it in my hands until it became juicy and stuffed it into my water bottle and shook it.

      I couldn't taste or smell anything anyway so I drank it raw. with in 20-30 minutes I felt a rush of energy. It made me use the bathroom quite a bit but it was worth it.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
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      Gina Welds Hulse 11 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Hi, Dana. Let me know how this works for your issues. Yes, Ms. Dora. So many of us grew up using this. I used to be tricked into drinking it when I was young, but I grew up appreciating it. Nancy, it is most likely growing in your Florida home. It is very easy to preserve it. Just pull a bunch of it and throw into paper bag, shake it periodically...or you can just it fresh. Glad you liked the video. :-)

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 11 months ago from Hamburg, New York

      I have never heard of cerassee. I will be sure and look for it around my home in Florida, it may be there.

      Unfortunately, many of the good herbs are very bitter tasting. My friends are forever asking me why I am willing to eat such terrible tasting things. I just reply, "When you feel so bad, you are willing to take anything to feel better." And like you, I grew up tasting these awful things. I am sure my mother found it entertaining to see my wrinkled face. And yes I do the same thing to my niece.

      I loved your video. It puts a face on the writer.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 13 months ago from The Caribbean

      Don't ever remember using cerasee but I've heard other Caribbean people swear by it like you do. I learned much from your article. Thanks!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 13 months ago from london

      I think we called that stuff Co- rye-la. Just in case others know of the name. I believe that Rajan Jolly has written about it. Not sure though.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 13 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I have never heard of this Cerasee but there appears to be many benefits to this medicinal-fruit. There are a lot of things I suffer from such as bad- menstrual cramps, fatigue and many others. I will definitely order this tea from amazon. Thanks for this information, this hub was very educational.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 13 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thanks Gina. I'll let you know what I think about this tea.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
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      Gina Welds Hulse 13 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Hi Audrey. Good to see you. I've provided the Amazon link for you at the end of the article. The tea is not quite as bitter as the freshly harvested vine, so I think you will appreciate that. Please let me know what you think when you get it, and have a chance to try it.

      I just had a friend visit today, and harvested some fresh from the vine. She was so excited.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 13 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      I'll have to order this tea from Amazon. I'll drink it even if I'm not crazy about the taste. My health is my top priority. Thanks for the great introduction to Cerasee.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
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      Gina Welds Hulse 13 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      I did too, Manatita. I did not like it, but I drank it because I knew it was good for me. My big day is Wednesday. Hope you're well. Glad to see you.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 13 months ago from london

      Well, I grew up on the stuff. Super-excellent!! So nice hearing your voice. All my love and the best to you, my Sweet. When is the big day? - manatita

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
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      Gina Welds Hulse 13 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      No problem, Eric. The best thing to sweeten it with would be honey, unless you're allergic, in which case use your choice of sweetener.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Cool thank you. Sorry I skipped over that link as I just thought it was an ad. We will at least get the tea.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
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      Gina Welds Hulse 13 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Hi Eric. Good to see you. Yes, you can order it from Amazon in tea bag form. I provided the link for that. I'm not sure if you can order seeds to try planting it where you live. This is a very tough vine. Let me see if the seeds are available for purchase on Amazon and I will let you know.

      Update: I just checked and I found this link. Hoe I'm allowed to post it here. I'll update the article for those who want to try planting it.

      https://www.amazon.com/Jamaican-Seeds-bitter-Melon...

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool. I do not think it would grow in our coastal desert. Can you get it somewhere?