MomordicaCharantia is the scientific name for bitter melon. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceaefamily. Other names are bitter gourd, bitter squash, balsam pear, karela. It is cooked as a vegetable in various parts of Asia and Africa. Although it has a typical bitter taste which is not liked by many, it has amazing health benefits. M. charantia has been used as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial agent and more to treat numerous infections and diseases. It is a boon for diabetics. It has the potential to lower the blood sugar levels. It has insulin-like properties. It is widely used as a traditional medicine in the management of diabetes. Multiple clinical studies and research have documented the efficacy of bitter gourd, so a number of pharmaceutical companies have started to include them in their formulations. These days, bitter melon is commercially available in the form of tablets, juices, and extracts which can be conveniently consumed to combat the complications of diabetes. Further research and experimental studies are being done to explore the potential of this amazing health food.
Benefits of bitter melon for diabetes patients
The fruit of the bitter melon plant is used as food as well as medicine. The taste is bitter which further pronounces as the fruit ripes, hence the name bitter gourd and bitter melon. Bitter melon is known for its other medicinal properties like anticancer, antivirus, anti-inflammation and cholesterol lowering effect.Bitter melon has high antioxidant properties and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Many studies around the world have confirmed the anti-diabetic properties of the bitter melon. It also has properties to fight with the late complications of diabetes. It is rich in healthy nutrients and other beneficial compounds. It was recently discovered to possess the unique ability to kill cancer stem cells (which are otherwise very hard to kill). Lab studies have shown its potency to kill cancers of the prostate, colon, pancreas, liver, and stomach.
Bitter melon is known worldwide for its effectiveness in diabetes management. It chemically contains a compound that is very much similar to insulin and sometimes also referred as p-insulin. Research has shown that when it is taken continuously for some time, it has the ability to act as a substitute for the insulin in the body. It contains steroidal saponins called charantin, which are peptides similar to that of peptides and certain alkaloids that control blood sugar level effectively. All of these compounds act together to improve glucose tolerance in the body without increasing blood insulin levels. These compounds regulate the fuel metabolism and enable glucose uptake and processes which are impaired in diabetic patients.
This magic fruit has been found to increase the insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas. Specialists all over the world prescribe having either bitter melon juice early in the morning or to include it in some other fashion in the daily diet. In human studies with diabetes patients, fresh bitter gourd juice has been shown to significantly reduce plasma glucose concentrations and improve the response to an oral glucose load. It is supposed to have synergistic effects with oral hypoglycemic agents and it may aggravate hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes patients. One of the most recent studies by Fuangchan et al. has effectively demonstrated the hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon among type 2 diabetic individuals receiving 2,000 mg/day of dried bitter melon powder .However, the hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon was less than metformin 1,000 mg/day. There is a need for better-designed clinical trials with sufficient sample size and statistical power to further support and strengthen the acclaimed efficacy and potential of bitter gourd as a natural nutritional treatment for diabetes mellitus. Bitter gourd has the potential to become a component of the diet or a dietary supplement for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients.
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