Bitter Melon, also known as Karela or Momordica Charantia is an herb that helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps body functions operating normally. It contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela’s principle constituents are lectins, charantin and momordicine. Lectins from the bitter gourd have shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activities.
In the Philippines, bitter melon is known as Ampalaya, and widely used and advertised for its blood sugar lowering benefits. The botanical name is Momordica charantia. Recently in vitro studies has indicated that an extract from this plant is effective against breast cancer cells. This plant gets its name because it’s among the most bitter of all vegetables, although it’s also called African cucumber, balsam pear and bitter gourd. It is widely grown and used in India, Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean. It resembles a shriveled cucumber or gourd and the texture of the vegetable is described as being similar to both a cucumber and bell pepper.
Bitter melon is high in vitamin C. It lso contains the B vitamins, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and B6, as well as magnesium, potassium and zinc. It may also have some anti viral activity and anti-cancer potential. Bitter melon is used to treat infections caused by retrovirus and is being investigated in the treatment of HIV. Other uses for bitter melon include treating colds, flu and fever, parasites, digestive and skin diseases.
Health Benefits of Bitter Melon
Helps maintain glucose health*
Helps manage the neural response to sweet taste stimuli*
Helps inhibit the conversion of sugar into fat*
Helps stimulate the breakdown of fat in the body and assist in managing weight gain
In South Asia, bitter melon is recommended to support immune health. Some of the effects are direct and some are indirect. Benefits include the inhibition of the growth of a variety of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and H. pylori. Extracts, similarly, according to in vitro studies, appear to have an impact on a number of viruses. For instance, bitter melon constituents may prevent viral penetration of the cell wall. Immune effects include support for healthy T-helper cell ratios, natural killer cell populations and related mechanisms.
As a dietary supplement, adults take one (1) capsule 2 times daily (30 minutes after lunch and dinner), or as directed by a healthcare professional.
Bitter Melon Side Effects: If you are taking medication for your blood sugar levels, take to your doctor before trying the fruit, and keep a close eye on your blood sugar. Avoid use if you have a history of liver problems. Excessive amounts can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain. Not for use during pregnancy.