By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE
QUEZON CITY/SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ (Farmbook Magazine) – There’s a new wonder plant in the Philippines.
For the experts, it is not actually new and it is not endemic in the country.
But when Dr. Bernardo “Ka Bernie” Dizon, a noted pomologist and agriculturist, talked about it with popular television and radio personality Julius Babao in his ABS-CBN program, it immediately registered meteoric rise in popularity as the show went viral.
And with the plant’s newly acquired fame, Dr. Dizon, who is famous for his exotic and productive fruit trees like durian, pommelo, jackfruit, lanzones, mango, guyabano, mangosteen and others, has also become known for this new and very useful plant.
The plant is called the insulin plant which has been baptized a wonder plant because it is useful as a natural way of controlling sugar in the blood and fight diabetes. Taking it, instead of the insulin injection, is a lot cheaper.
We visited Dr. Dizon at the Bernie Dizon Exotic Fruits Nursery inside the Ninoy Aquino Park and Wildlife Center near the Quezon Memorial Circle for us to see for ourselves the wonder plant and we witnessed ourself how Dr. Dizon has become doubly popular. This as his cellphone rang continuously with people on the other end wanting to know more about the plant and how they could buy and use them.
As Dr. Dizon’s phone rang, there was also a steady flow of people arriving that weekend to his impressive nursery which at this time has many tall durian trees of various varieties (Davao, Vietnam, Malaysian and Thailand), some of them 20 year old, with many fruits. The longkong lanzones and Davao pommelo trees also have fruits, thanks to his unique MRT – multiple roots technology. And thanks too to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which has allowed him to put up and operate for several years now his nursery which offers very cheap planting materials and free lectures or training on how to plant and care for the high-value exotic fruit trees.
Dr. Dizon explains that he first heard of the insulin plant many years back. He said a farmer in Maragondon, Cavite introduced the plant which he had imported and grew in his farm. At first, Dr. Dizon said he did not pay much attention to the insulin plant as he was busy propagating his exotic and high value fruit bearing trees and he also became fascinated with growing grapes and producing planting materials of the vine which for years were not known to grow and bear fruit in the Philippines.
Later on when he reportedly fell into depression and became sickly while developing a third nursery at the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NUST) in the faraway town of Gabaldon in the Sierra Madre mountains, in addition to his nursery at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) where he also graduated, he was frantic in search of cure for apparent looming diabetes. He tried boiling dried guyabano leaves, sometimes with the bark, and drank it like tea and it worked wonders to his health as he slowly recovered. He continues to drink “unlimited” guyabano tea up to this day. And he offers unlimited guyabano tea to visitors who follow him in Quezon City or in Munoz City, Nueva Ecija wanting to learn from him or buy seedlings from his nursery.
Later, Dr. Dizon got hold of a study that many Filipinos are suffering from diabetes. The latest estimate is at least four million Filipinos have diabetes. And the ailment is also prevalent in other countries.
One such study also stated that diabetes and its many complications is seriously taking thousands of lives every year. And it is expensive to go to hospitals and medical centers for treatment, blood sugar management and medications. And one has to live with the disease the rest of his or her life.
In the video footage of Julius Babao’s interview with Dr. Dizon which the anchorman had posted on Facebook and has since gone viral, the plant expert introduced the insulin plant which he said “could be the cheapest and the most effective way of treating diabetes and stabilizing blood sugar.”
It was reported in the interview that the so-called “miracle insulin plant” known as Chamaecostus cuspidatus has anti-diabetic properties. Commonly known as fiery costus or spiral flag, the insulin plant was used in Ayurvedic medicine in India because of its ability to stabilize the blood sugar which when eaten regularly claims to eventually treat or reverse diabetes. Studies by Indian medical experts in rats and humans have found that Costaceae lowers blood levels of fat and sugar, acts as a diuretic, antioxidant, and antibiotic. It even seems to have anti-cancer effects.
Dr. Dizon, who is popularly known as Ka Bernie as part of the “Pangkat Kaunlaran” which hosts the weekend agriculture television show on ABS-CBN, explained that the medicinal plant was originally from India and was exported to the Philippines. Further research though indicate that the plant is endemic in the Andes mountains of South America.
He said the plant is now being sold at competitive prices, some made it too expensive because of the popularity of the viral video uploaded by Julius Babao.
Ka Bernie claimed that boiling two leaves of the insulin plant and drinking it twice a day (morning and evening) in a span of 10 days, could stabilize the blood sugar and eventually treat or reverse diabetes. Later, a leaf each time would be sufficient.