Jamaican Cerasee is a very popular herb in Jamaica, that is either boiled or brewed into a tea. And for those who don’t know, Jamaica has a renowned reputation as herb cultivators, whose plants and herbs are considered ‘blessed’. 

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Jamaican Cerasee

There are many plants whose benefits have the ability to supersede your expectations. Cerasee scientifically called Momordica Charantia, fits in that category! It has a range of benefits and packed with powerful nutrients that you might find useful to assist you with a healthy lifestyle.

‘What is cerasee or cerasee tea good for?’, ‘How do you grow it?’, ‘How often should you drink cerasee tea?’ These are a few questions that you have to conjure subconsciously already, right? And you probably have many more questions but we will try and answer them in this article.   Also, Check out my Bitter Melon/Cerasee Potato Curry Recipe.

Cerasee fruit

What Is Cerasee/Asosi?

Scientifically called Momordica Charantia, is a renowned vining plant/herb that is green in color but produces an oblong green to yellow or orange bitter melon or bitter gourd.

Cerasee’s exterior is either smooth or sometimes ‘bumpy’- where many have eaten it raw or added it to their cuisine and it produces a yield of 9-13 fruits per plant or even more.

Did you know that cerasee is among one of the most bitter herbs in the world? Yes, it is that bitter!

Cerasee

But it’s very resourceful and helpful with many ailments. This plant is a part of the Cucurbitaceae family (or referred to as cucurbits/ gourd family, where popular fruits from this family include squash, pumpkin, cucumber, Citrullus watermelon, and zucchini).

It is best grown in a tropical and subtropical climate but is considered perennial. This means that it grows in places that have hot and humid summers simultaneously cold to mild winters but won’t survive in the cold climate.

So, places like South Florida is an example of a location with a subtropical climate.  It actually grows here in North Central Florida, but the seeds came from South Florida.

However, when you hear the name cerasee the place that it is mostly affiliated with is the Caribbean-especially Jamaica and Haiti. But let’s not forget it is also native to Africa and Asia.

Fun fact- many people search for the word sersi instead of cerasee because of the pronunciation. However, in a google search, you will find cerasee instead, raise your hand if you’re guilty- *raises hand* I did so once- but nothing to be ashamed of, we learn every day, right?

cerasee bittermelon on the vine

Other Names For Momordica Charantia/Cerasee

‘Different strokes for different folks’ but in this case, cerasee differs in name association in a plethora of countries where it is grown.

Hence; asosi, bitter squash, bitter cucumber, balsan apple, balsam pear, balsam vine, monk fruit (English), karela (Hindi), carllie/popololo/corailee (Trinidad Tobago), sorosí (Costa Rica), cundeamor (Venezuela), Lai kua (China).

Bitter melon (Africa- cerassie in the form of tea), margose, papari, kokouli (Dominica), cundeamor (Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico), sorosí (Guatemala), calaica (Honduras), asorosi (Haiti).

How To Grow Cerasee Plant?

 Let’s backtrack, it was stated earlier that cerasee (or sometimes spelled cerasse) was a perennial plant. This is because it does not have properties that can withstand a cold climate.

Nitrogen is needed in soils in order to produce a protein which produces amino acids that allows DNA formation and replication to occur.

Loss/lack of nitrogen means the plant will be stunted and affect the growth of the fruit and plant. Therefore, it must be planted in a warm temperature where the soil (ideally sandy or loam soil) has a good pH of 6.5 or 7 which is ideal or a range of 5.5 to 8.7 (the higher the pH the less acidic it is, where it is more alkaline).

It is important for the soil to have a good pH balance because of the packed nutrients it will need, cerasee is a good example.

You can plant cerasee seeds (with adequate spacing) in your garden or pot if the previous conditions are met, but do not grow this herb among fruits or other vegetables; it must have its own spacious environment to grow because it will use other plants as a source for structure.

Cerasee plant

More About Cerasee Plant

Another pertinent condition is regular water irrigation, where cerasee plants need a good watering system to survive but not an overabundance.

The plant takes up to 9 to 14 days to germinate (if conditions are met) and within 13 to 16 weeks it’s harvest time! It is recommended to pick the fruit 8 to 10 days after its blossoms fall off.

Remember that if the riper the fruit the more bitter it becomes (due to alkaloid momordicin-a substance found in bitter melon including its fruits, stems and leaves that makes it taste bitter) where it changes from green to yellow to orange (overripe)- although in some cases the fruit differs in a bitter taste, whether it is too immature or overripe.

A key notation is that cerasee has a duration that is classified as annual- signifying that it only grows within a single season and its seeds are the only remaining survivors- to perennial where the fruit may differ in shape and sizes.

 Cerasee Tea from dried leaves or tea bags

Benefits Of Cerasee And Cerasee Tea

Cerasse although bitter in taste it has many high sources of nutrients and substances, which include: Vitamin A, B (1,2,3 and 9) and C, folate, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, alkaloids, and antioxidants (catechin and gallic acid primarily, phenols, flavonoids, etc).

Therefore, cerasee tea- or popularly known as ‘Jamaican bush tea/cerasee bush tea’ in Jamaica- has many benefits:

  1. Lowers hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)- due to nutrients (e.g. magnesium, which assists in lowering blood glucose level) and antioxidants (gallic acid).
  2. Reduces hypertension (high blood pressure)- due to gallic acid (antioxidant) and potassium (regulates heart muscles and blood pressure).
  3. Lowers cholesterol- due to antioxidant catechin.
  4. Reduces inflammation– due to antioxidants and Vitamins A, B, and C.
  5. Potentially reduces the risk of diabetes.
  6. Detoxifier ‘wash out’ and blood purifier– due to diuretic properties, toxins are removed from the blood and body.
  7. Aids in the relief of constipation, abdominal pain (including menstrual pain), gastrointestinal problems (like parasitic worms), diarrhea, dysentery, and digestion.
  8. Prevents anemia– due to a good source of iron present.
  9. Prevents depression– due to folate present which acts as an antidepressant.
  10. Aids in weight loss- due to low levels of fat and calories as well as lectin which suppresses your appetite due to its insulin-like properties. Read here.
  11. Helps to repair organs that assisted during childbirth.
  12. Improves and heals skin rash, eczema, acne, skin ulcer, wounds/sores- this is done in the form of a cerasee tea bush bath or wash, where the leaves and stems are boiled then the brew is used externally after it cools. It also aids arthritis and rheumatism due to calcium and other nutrient properties.  Read More Here.

How To Consume Cerasee Tea?

  1. Brew or boil the washed leaves (moderately two, dependent on how strong you would like it) and stem of the cerasee plant (dried or green) or place a cerasee tea bag into a pot of water for 3-4 minutes after the water (2 cups equates for 1 serving) has started to boil.
  2. Strain/drain the liquid using a strainer or if a tea bag wasn’t used, then pour it into a tea cup. You can add a few teaspoons of sugar to make it less palpable/bitter. Many find it as a cerasee tea detox so Bon Appetit!

Cerasee Tea Side Effects

As a recommendation, cerasee tea shouldn’t be consumed for more than two-three times a month then after a while you should give it a break.  

Despite its healing properties and popular Caribbean and Central America folklore usage for healthy skin and ‘easy’ birth for pregnant women, you MUST consult your doctor before usage.

As it may cause side effects for pregnant women and those who are diabetic and taking medicines.   Other side effects include:

  1. Vaginal bleeding
  2. Abortion
  3. Contractions
  4. Liver damage
  5. Diarrhea and intestinal issues
  6. Too much lowering of blood sugar levels, especially taken with insulin
  7. Headache and stomach pains
  8. Coma if too much seed has been consumed
  9. Favism

Hence, it must be consumed in moderate proportions then given a break.

Frequently Asked Questions About Jamaican Cerasee

  • Is cerasee tea safe to drink during pregnancy?

Many pregnant women use it in the Caribbean and Latin/Central America to assist with birth and skincare.

However, you must consult with your doctor BEFORE consumption, there are strong side effects, especially, if not consumed properly.

However, many have used it for its healing properties for after birth cleansing and healing for organs majorly used during child birth. Despite this, consult with your doctor.

 

  • Can cerasee help you pass a drug test?

 Cerasee tea removes toxins from your blood and body as well as cleanses your urine. Therefore, there is a good probability that it will.

 

  • How often can I drink cerasee tea?’ or ‘Can I drink cerasee every day?

     At least two to three times a month and NO you cannot drink cerasee tea every day.

 

  • Where can I buy cerasee seeds or cerasee tea bags?

    -You can buy the cerasee tea bags online or your nearest supermarket or local market or Caribbean supermarkets, for example, Walmart. This is inclusive of the tea bags.

We hope that this article has been useful! So now that you’re more knowledgeable about this herb, it may improve your health if you try it.

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