- Scientific Name: Momordica charantia
- Ampalaya, also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd in the USA, is a crawling vine that grows well in tropical countries, particularly in the Philippines.
- The term Ampalaya refers to both the plant and its fruit, which is elongated, green and has a rough and rumpled skin.
- Known for its bitter taste, the Ampalaya is at once a staple ingredient in Filipino and Asian cuisine. The leaves, small stem and fruits are traditionally cooked into delectable dishes.
- For generations, Asians have relied on the Ampalaya as a natural medicine and remedy for various ailments such as anemia, hypertension, constipation, and viral infection. But the most scientifically documented medicinal use of Ampalaya is for diabetes.
- Over the past four decades, around 150 scientific researches on the ampalaya were conducted worldwide. These pre-clinical and limited clinical studies tend to confirm the potent anti-diabetic properties of the Ampalaya.
- The said studies were able to identify a number of active ingredients in the ampalaya. The plant insulin called Polypeptide-p, Vicine and Charantin were confirmed to lower and control blood sugar levels. Scientists however, believe that there are other unidentified substances from the ampalaya that affect blood sugar.
- Today, Ampalaya is gaining popularity in many countries as a food supplement in tea or capsules to help lower elevated blood sugar levels.
Ampalaya is indigenous to Asia, but is cultivated around the world. In Japan, it is known as Nigal uri; in China, Fukwa; in Indonesia, Pare; in Vietnam, Goyah; in India, Karela; and in North America, besides ampalaya, it is known as bitter melon or bitter gourd. But in the Philippines, it is mainly referred to as ampalaya or Momordica charantia L (M, charantia).