Bitter melon is scientifically known as Momordica Charantia and called many other names such as balsam pear, bitter squash, and bitter gourd. This bitter, wrinkly, and relatively unpopular fruit (at least in Australia) is packed with nutrients that can help manage diabetes.
Momordica Charantia is commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions such as Asia, South America, and parts of Africa. In Australia, they are grown in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and sometimes, in West Australia.
Since ancient days, its fruit, seeds and leaves have been used as herbal drink, cooking ingredient and natural drug against a host of illnesses and diseases. In China, India, and South America, M. Charantia is considered as a highly important plant in managing diabetes.
With over 225 medicinal ingredients identified, bitter melon has wonders that are yet to be discovered (Source). One of the health promises of bitter melon that has long intrigued researchers is its blood-sugar lowering properties. This raises our hopes of finding the cure to diabetes.
In this article, we will examine and highlight the efficacy of bitter melon in coping with symptoms of diabetes.
Bitter Melon Can Potentially Manage Symptoms of Diabetes
According to studies, bitter melon contains properties that can prevent and control diabetes.
Antidiabetic compounds such as triterpene, proteid, steroid, alkaloid, inorganic, lipid, and phenolic compounds have been tested on mice and they have shown promising results. Scientists have done clinical trials on laboratory animals to observe the antidiabetic activities of bitter melon components. Below are some interesting findings:
- When bitter gourd fruit is fed to mice, a single dose, blood glucose lowering effect has been observed.
- Bitter gourd juices are proven to be more effective than their dried fruits in lowering blood sugar level.
- Extracts from bitter melon enhance the pancreatic insulin secretion of rats with Type 1 diabetes, indicating the plant’s potential to fight diabetes and prevent further complications of the disorder.
- Several studies on lab rats show that bitter melon extracts can regulate blood glucose in two ways. First, after a meal, it regulates how much sugar (glucose) is absorbed by the gut and into the blood. Second, it works similar to insulin by stimulating glucose uptake into the skeletal muscle cells.
While all these results prove significant blood-sugar-lowering effects of bitter melon extracts on rodents, further research is required to test its effectiveness and recommended application on humans.
Better-designed studies and tests are needed to investigate how properties of bitter melon can directly ward off and battle diabetes.
Bitter may be the way to go to deal with diabetes
Today, bitter melon is consumed in many various forms. At its simplest, Its fruits are washed with salt water and mixed with delicious recipes to mask the bitter taste. Some prefer drinking its tea extracts.
The market is replete with bitter melon products such as tea, juices, tablets, extracts, and so on. But most manufacturers do not provide any scientific evidence as to how bitter melon can effectively manage diabetes. There are also no clear recommendations about its proper and safe preparation and dosage.
As more and more health professionals and scientists study the potential of bitter melon to manage symptoms of diabetes, the answer is close at hand.
My main concerne with Bitter Melon is that in all preparation that I have studied is that it requires a large amount of salt to “remove” its bitterness. Indeed many of the teas, drinks etc. require the patient to drink the juice that results from this salt treatment. I find it hard it recommend as salt may have an undesired effect on the heart and vascular system a major concern for diabetics long term health.
Joseph, B. & Jini, D. (2013). Antidiabetic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and its medicinal potency Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027280/
Arachchige, N.W. (2014). Bitter gourd and Its Anti diabetic properties. Retrieved from: http://daa.asn.au
Bitter Melon No Salt.
I have never been a fan of Bitter Mellon as it has to be cured with salt. I do not know this website or if it is based on science but I will share it here as it has some warnings which are worth knowing about.
6 Side Effects Of Bitter Gourd
PAVAKKAI KICHADI/ Bitter gourd in Yogurt sauce
Bitter gourd is often mentioned for it benefits for diabetic. My major problem with it is that it required as large amount of salt in its preparation. I am therefor interested in this recipe as it requires no salt.
Pavakkai Kichadi is a traditional Kerala dish made using fried bitter gourd and yogurt.
Recipe Type: Side dish, Kerala Onam & Vishu Sadya Recipes
Cuisine: Kerala, South Indian
Finely chopped Bitter gourd 1 cup
Thick Plain Yogurt/Curd 1 cup
Grated ginger 1 Tbsp.
Mustard seeds ½ Tsp.
Finely chopped Green chilies 3 no.
Coriander leaves 1 Tbsp.
Olive Oil for deep frying
Mustard seeds ¼ Tsp.
Red chili 1 no.
Hing 1/8 Tsp. (a spice derived from the plant Ferula assa-foetida)
Curry leaves 1 String.
Fry the Pavakkai / Bitter gourd, Green Chilly and Curry leaves till it is brown and crisp. When it’s almost brown take it off from the oil and keep aside.
Grind ginger and mustard seeds to a fine paste. Mix the Yoghurt to this paste. Add Fried items into curd and mix it well.
Heat more olive oil, splutter mustard seeds, curry leaves red chilies and hing. Add the seasoning to the curd mix. Decorate with coriander leaves.
Now Pavakkai kichadi is ready to serve.
Serve with steam basmati rice, rice substitute, chick peas and/or a salad. It is a side dish in moderation with your main.