Most commonly found growing in tropical parts fo the world, including Africa, Asia and South America, the bitter melon plant is used for nutritional as well as it medicinal value. While all parts of the plant are used, the fruit of the Bitter Melon is most often used for creating medicinal remedies.
Bitter Melon (Momordica Charantia) is a cucumber-shaped, green vegetable believed to have a high iron content, which increases its value as a preventative medicine for many health conditions. Bitter Melon has two proteins which are thought to repress the AIDS virus. However, its effectiveness in humans for the treatment of AIDS has not been substantiated by clinical evidence. Preliminary research also suggests that bitter melon, consumed in any liquid or solid form, may enhance Type 2 diabetics' ability to control blood sugar.
Three active constituents in bitter melon know as steroidal saponins (charntin, insulin-like peptides, and alkaloids) are believed to be responsible for the blood-sugar lowering actions that could potential benefit individuals with diabetes mellitus.
Historically bitter melon has been used as a remedy for an assortment of conditions. The leaves and fruit have both been used to season soups and to make teas and beer.Possible Benefits
Dosage and Administration
- Aids in sugar regulation by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli
- Useful for those with diabetes mellitus
- Lectins from bitter gourd may possess significant antilipolytic and lipogenic properties
- Useful as an emtic, purgative, and as an anthelmentic, in jaundice, and piles
Bitter melon may be consumed in the following ways: as food, a decoction of as much as 3 1/3 ounces (100 ml), or 2 ounces (60 ml) of fresh juice (daily). Though still bitter, tinctures of bitter melon (1 teaspoon [5 ml] two to three times per day) may also be used. The above dosages would be appropriate for diabetics.Side Effects and Interactions
Excessive ingestion of bitter melon juice (several times more than the amount recommended above) may lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain. Consuming excessive amounts of the seeds may be linked with fever, headache, and coma. Pregnant women should not use bitter melon. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may be negatively affected by bitter melon because it may trigger or worsen the condition.
Currently, no well-known drug interactions with bitter melon exist.Supporting LiteratureRaman A, Lau C. Anti-diabetic properties and phytochemistry of Momordica charantia L (Curcurbitaceae). Phytomed 1996;2:349-62.
Werbach MR, Murray MT. Botanical Influences on Illness. Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press, 1994, 139-41.