How This Helps

Bitter melon (also referred to as Momordica charantia, bitter gourd, wild cucumber, and much more ) is a plant that draws its name from its unmistakable flavor. It becomes increasingly bitter as it ripens. It grows in many areas (such as Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and East Africa), where individuals have used bitter melon for many different medical conditions with time. Bitter melon comprises many nutrients that may be beneficial to your health. It is linked to lowering blood glucose, which some studies suggest means it can aid in diabetes therapy.

What is bitter melon (or bitter gourd)?

Bitter melon is also known as bitter gourd or karela (in India). It is an exceptional vegetable-fruit that can be applied as food or medication. It's the edible portion of the plant (botanical name Momordica Charantia), a vine of the Cucurbitaceae family.  It is considered the most bitter among all fruits and vegetables. The plant thrives in subtropical and tropical areas, including South America, Asia, parts of Africa, and the Caribbean. The bitter melon itself develops off the vine as a green, oblong-shaped fruit with a distinct warty outside -- although its size, texture, and bitterness vary between different regions where it develops, and is full of vital vitamins and minerals.

Bitter melon (or bitter gourd) is not a favorite food among people, especially women. Many typically don't like it due to the bitter taste it leaves in your tongue, but some enjoy it as well. Don't let the bitter flavor of the nutritious vegetable keep you away from it. If cooked well, it may taste good also. If you don't like bitter gourd, you should give it a second thought since it's full of health benefits.

See: Ayurvedic Treatment for Prediabetes & Diabetes Type 2

Bitter Melon for Type 2 Diabetes

How does Bitter Melon help Type 2 Diabetes?

Besides being a food ingredient, bitter melon has been used as a herbal treatment for a variety of ailments, including type 2 diabetes. The fruit contains at least three active compounds with anti-diabetic properties, such as charanti, which has been proven to have a blood glucose-lowering effect, vicine, and an insulin-like compound called polypeptide-p.

These substances either work independently or together to decrease glucose levels. Additionally, it is known that bitter melon includes a lectin that reduces blood sugar levels by acting on peripheral cells and curbing appetite -- like the effects of insulin from the brain. This lectin is supposed to be a significant factor behind the hypoglycemic effect that develops after ingestion bitter melon.

See: Bitter melon juice targets molecular mechanisms underlying gemcitabine resistance in pancreatic cancer cells.

Scientific studies in Bitter Melon for Diabetes

Scientific studies:

Bitter melon is connected to lowering the body's blood glucose. This is due to the bitter melon has properties that behave like insulin, which helps bring glucose into the cells for energy. The usage of bitter melon can help your cells use glucose and transfer it to your liver, muscles, and fat. The melon may also have the ability to help your body maintain nourishment by blocking its conversion to sugar, which comes in your bloodstream. A variety of clinical studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of bitter melon from the treatment of diabetes.

- In January 2011, the outcomes of a four-week clinical trial were published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which revealed a 2,000 mg per day dose of bitter melon reduced blood sugar levels significantly among patients with type 2 diabetes.  The hypoglycemic effect was, however,  less than a 1,000 mg/day dose of metformin.

- Other older studies also have indicated an association between bitter melon intake and improved glycemic control. A report published in the March 2008 dilemma of Chemistry and Biology discovered that bitter melon improved glucose tolerance and increased glucose cellular uptake.

- However,  for poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, a 2007 research published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology failed to show any benefits of bitter melon. Another clinical evaluation released two decades later in the British Journal of Nutrition said that more, better-designed and clinical trials are expected to validate the fruit's function in diabetes therapy. 

Some research talking bitter melon for diabetes include:

- A Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews report concluded that more studies are required to gauge the effects of bitter melon on diabetes type 2. Also, it mentioned the need for more research on how it may be used for nutrition therapy.

Bitter melon is not an approved treatment or medication for prediabetes or diabetes, regardless of the evidence.

Several studies have analyzed bitter melon and diabetes. Most of the studies advocate conducting more research before using any kind of bitter melon for diabetes control. There isn't any scientifically accepted way to consume bitter melon as a cure for diabetes. Bitter melon may be applied as food to be part of a healthy and varied diet. Consuming bitter melon outside of your dinner plate may pose dangers.

See: Best Foods For Diabetics & Shopping List

Bitter melon nutritional facts

Nutritional advantages of bitter melon

As a fruit that also contains a vegetable's properties, bitter melon comprises a vast array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It's been recognized by many cultures as having medicinal value. A number of its nutritional benefits include - Vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-9, C, and Vitam E

- minerals such as potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron

- antioxidants such as phenols, flavonoids, as well as many others


See: Astragalus root or huang qi to boost immunity

Bitter melon other health benefits

Bitter melon is often used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for:

- Diabetes type 2

- Fever

- Burns

- Colic

- Boost immunity

- Constipation

- Hemorrhoids

- Persistent cough

- Painful menstruation

- Skin ailments

- It is used to cure wounds, help childbirth and, in parts of Africa and Asia, prevent or cure malaria and viral diseases such as measles and chickenpox.

- Researchers from Saint Louis University in the US say they've demonstrated that bitter melon extract can kill breast cancer cells and stop them from growing and spreading.

See: Herbs That Lower Blood Sugar

Types and doses of bitter melon

There are no prescribed dosages for bitter melon as a medical therapy currently. Bitter melon is regarded as complementary or alternative medicine. As a result, using bitter melon is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating diabetes or another medical condition.

- You might find bitter melon in its natural vegetable type, as a nutritional supplement, and even as a tea. Supplements do not need to adhere to any strict criteria before being sold and are not regulated by the FDA.

- You should not use bitter melon for a supplement without consulting with your physician.

See: Moringa Powder Benefits For Diabetes

Precautions & side effects

Possible risks and complications

Use bitter melon with caution beyond intermittent use on your daily diet. Bitter melon can have side effects and interfere with other medicines. Few of the dangers and complications of bitter melon contain:

- Diarrhea, nausea, and other intestinal problems

- Liver damage

- Mixing with other medications to change their effectiveness

- Dangerous lowering of blood sugar with insulin

- Vaginal bleeding, contractions, and abortion

- Issues in blood sugar control in those who have had recent surgery

See: Signs of diabetes in men

Summary

Bitter melon, sometimes consumed as a fruit or vegetable might be a healthy addition to your diet. As a fruit that also contains a vegetable's properties, bitter melon comprises a vast array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It's been recognized by many cultures as having medicinal value. More research is required to create connections between the varied kinds of bitter melon and the treatment of health problems. Bitter melon products and all herbal products should be used with caution. Discuss with your physician before using them.

See: Signs of diabetes in women

References


1. Diabetes. (2018).  http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en

2. Efird, J. T., et al. (2014). Potential for improved glycemic control with dietary Momordica charantia in patients with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945602/

3. Kwatra, D., et al. (2016). Bitter melon as a therapy for diabetes, inflammation, and cancer: A panacea?  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40495-016-0045-2

4. Elekofehinti, O. O., et al. (2018). Potential use of bitter melon (Momordia charantia) derived compounds as antidiabetics: In silico and in vivo studies [Abstract]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29764719

5. Dans, A. M. L., et al. (2007). The effect of Momordica charantia capsule preparation on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus needs further studies [Abstract].  https://www.jclinepi.com/article/S0895-4356(06)00291-5/fulltext

6. Ray, R. B., et al. (2010). Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) extract inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation by modulating cell cycle regulatory genes and promotes apoptosis. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/70/5/1925.long

7. Fuangchan, A., et al. (2011). Hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon compared with metformin in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients [Abstract].  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21211558/

8. Alam, M. A., et al. (2015). Beneficial role of bitter melon supplementation in obesity and related complications in metabolic syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4306384/

9. Dandawate, P. R., et al. (2016). Bitter melon: A panacea for inflammation and cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5276711/

10. Yin, R. V., et al. (2014). The effect of bitter melon (Momordica charantia) in patients with diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis.  http://www.nature.com/nutd/journal/v4/n12/full/nutd201442a.html

See: Yoga for Diabetes Type 2

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