Cerasee: The Sweet Truth About This Bitter Little-Known Medicinal Weed
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
Have you ever heard of cerasee?
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.
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
- 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
Have you had cerasee tea?
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.
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