(Pomologist and plant propagator Bernie Dizon shows an insulin plant in potted black bag with luscious leaves ready for plucking and munching by insulin patient sufferer. Photo by Elmo Roque)
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – Pomologist Bernardo Dizon is himself amazed that his insulin plant leaves sell briskly even at P10 per leaf.
“Some buyers buy a few pieces of them while others in bulk,” Dizon, who maintains a botonic fruit and techno-demo center at the Ninoy Aquino Park and Wildlife Center in Quezon City and a demo-farm at the Central Luzon State University here, said.
Majority of his buyers are said to be suffering from Type 1 diabetes. Doctors said this type of diabetes normally results in high blood sugar level because the body stops producing insulin.
The plant from where the leaves come from is commonly called insulin plant.
Published write-ups about it said consuming the insulin plant’s leaves sap “could be the cheapest and the most effective way of treating diabetes and stabilizing the blood sugar”.
The plant is commonly known elsewhere as fiery costus or spiral flag and was used in Ayurvedic medicine in India “because of its ability to stabilize the blood sugar and treat diabetes”.
In a press briefing in 2016, Dr. Augusto Litonjua, president of the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation, Inc., said there are six million people in the country suffering from diabetes and this number could double, or even more, in 2040. He said one person dies of diabetes complication every six seconds.
He cited stress and the fast-food culture as major contributories to this ailment. He said call center workers are much prone to this kind of disease.
Doctors said Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar (glucose) which is the body’s important source of fuel.
It either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.
Dizon said he planted about 300 insulin plants under the shades of his exotic plants.
Those planted on the grounds grow up to six feet while those on potted black plastic bags at three feet.
About 30 mature leaves can be plucked every week, he said.
“Sufferers munch the palmsized leaves once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Others use blenders to get and consume the juice,” Dizon said.
It was only in April that Dizon started experiencing a surge of people looking for insulin plant leaves.
He revealed that it all started when TV personality Julius Babao posted an interview in facebook about him and his insulin plants.
In a short time, the post went viral and registered eight million viewers.
“It is easy to propagate it,” Dizon said.
“Just get the tuber and plant it,” he added.
In his case, to mass produce its propagation, he uses an enclosed chamber as the plant grows well in a little hot temperature.
Dizon sells his potted plants at P200 a piece. He, however, begged off in telling how much he grosses a week.
The pomologist usually holds demonstration-seminar in his half-hectare demo area for the propagation of exotic plants like durian, longkong lanzones, mangosteen, mangoes, Davao (Magallanes) pomelo, lychees, rambutan, variegated chicos, grapefruit, oranges and Luz calamansi.