Ampalaya, also known as bitter gourd or bitter melon, is a native fruit from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Tea made from this fruit is available commercially or can be prepared fresh at home. There is some indication that drinking tea from ampalaya has health benefits, especially for diabetics. Ampalaya tea is not meant to replace medical treatment. If you have diabetes, or are at risk, you should discuss the use of this product with your doctor.
Bitter gourd is a fruit that contains many nutrients. According to the website Ayurbalance, ampalaya contains vitamins A, B-1, B-2 and C. The plant also offers a variety of essential minerals, such as iron, copper and potassium. Although marketed as tea, you can also use ampalaya in soups and for any dish calling for a fresh vegetable.
Ampalaya tea has been looked at closely as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. With this condition, the body becomes resistant to insulin and, therefore, has difficulty regulating blood sugar. Drinking ampalaya tea is said to lower blood sugar naturally. This has not been disproven by clinical studies, but according to NYC Langone Medical Center, significant trials are limited to animal testing. Agriculture Business Week reports that one commercial ampalaya tea has been approved by the Bureau of Food and Drugs in the Philippines as appropriate for the distinct dietary needs of patients with diabetes.
Another possible value for ampalaya tea is as a preventive treatment for cancer. Science has a long way to go before proving tea from this fruit will work to inhibit the growth of cancer. NYU Langone Medical Center states that there is some evidence of this benefit, but at this phase, clinical studies have not gone past test tube research.
There are some risks to consider when drinking ampalaya tea. Maintaining proper blood sugar levels when you have diabetes is a balancing act, and this tea may actually lower blood sugar. Taking a supplement, such as ampalaya tea, and a prescription medication may make blood sugar crash. For a diabetic, this is a significant danger. According to NYU Langone Medical Center, two children fell into a diabetic coma after taking bitter melon. If you have diabetes, prescription medication has proven effects, but ampalaya tea is strictly theoretical. Do not combine your diabetic medication with this supplement.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Bitter Melon
- Agri Business Week; Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd): Natural Weapon Against Disease; 2008
- AyurBalance: Ayurvedic Foods: Bitter Gourd
- Huntington College of Health Sciences; Living With Diabetes: Supplements to Make the Job Easier; Gene Bruno et al.; 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diabetes