Team AckoSept 12, 2023
Momordica charantia, also known as Bitter Melon or bitter gourd, is one of those plants acknowledged for its biological properties applied in traditional systems of treatment. This plant is grown across the world, especially in tropical parts of Asia, the Amazon, east Africa, and the Caribbean, and is used as both a vegetable and traditional medicine.
As per studies, this plant has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, anti-obesity, and immuno-modulatory properties. This article elucidates the therapeutic uses, benefits, and side effects of Bitter Melon (BM) as a medicine.
Bitter Melon, bitter gourd, or Momordica charantia is a tropical and subtropical vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is widely cultivated in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. BM contains a wide range of minerals and vitamins, including Vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. It is not only a great source of dietary fibre, but it has twice the amount of calcium as spinach.
The Bitter Melon plant is high in potent bioactive elements such as cucurbitane-type triterpenoids, phenolic acids, triterpene glycosides, essential oils, flavonoids, fatty acids, saponins, and proteins. According to Ayurveda, BM has antidiabetic, abortifacient, anthelmintic, antimalarial, and laxative qualities.
It helps manage diabetes, particularly insulin resistance, cholera, abnormalities in the blood, skin disorders, immunological disorders, toxins from the body, liver diseases, psoriasis, and digestive disorders.
Ayurveda indicates Bitter Melon is tridoshic. This means it balances all the three doshas, such as vata, pitta, and kapha. Being a bitter and pungent substance, it does not aggravate vata.
Bitter Melon is especially effective in removing extra kapha from the pancreas and the urinary tract. It also helps maintain a healthy urinary channel flow. Furthermore, it efficiently calms excess pitta, which can be present in numerous sections of the body, ranging from the skin to the liver.
Bitter Melon has an array of health benefits, of which a few are discussed below.
BM contains an insulin-like molecule called Polypeptide-P or P-Insulin, which helps manage diabetes naturally. According to studies, drinking the right amount of bitter melon juice on a regular basis can considerably lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, BM stimulates glucose absorption and helps with glycemic control. It can even assist people who have type 1 diabetes.
High cholesterol levels can cause fat to build-up in your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Studies show that BM extract significantly reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, thereby keeping your heart healthy. It contains iron and folic acid, which helps prevent heart stroke.
According to research BM extract can kill cancer cells in the stomach, colon, lung, nasopharynx, breast, pancreas, liver, prostate, skin, cervical, and leukaemia. This may happen because this fruit has the ability to induce apoptosis, inhibit cancer stem cells, and cause autophagic cell death.
BM has often been used as a herbal remedy because it contains various bioactive components such as triterpenoids, flavonoids, triterpene glycosides, lectins, phenolic acids, sterols, and proteins that have anticancer potency without serious adverse effects. However, a concentrated amount of Bitter Melon extract may be required for the same.
Since Bitter Melon is low in calories and high in fibre, it can be a great addition to a weight reduction diet. According to research, each one-cup (94-gram) serving provides around 2 grams of fibre. Fibre moves slowly through your digestive tract, keeping you satiated for longer and decreasing cravings.
As a result, replacing high-calorie items with Bitter Melon may help you enhance your fibre intake and cut calories to encourage weight reduction. Studies suggest that this might be caused by increased fatty acid oxidation, which promotes weight loss.
BM has antioxidants that may help strengthen your immune system. Antioxidants work as a defence mechanism against a variety of diseases by fighting free radicals and other hazardous substances generated during cellular metabolism. Thus, BM helps protect against three extremely harmful diseases: heart attacks, renal damage, and liver failure.
Bitter Melon is well-known for its blood-purifying properties. It possesses anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties that help in blood purification and helps you achieve healthy, beautiful skin. BM can help cure a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Bitter Melon can effectively alleviate respiratory diseases such as asthma, colds, and coughs. In the morning, a paste of BM leaves mixed with tulsi leaves and honey can be a wonderful cure for your respiratory complications.
Several parts of the BM plant are used as a key medicine in Ayurveda to alleviate symptoms of various diseases. Some of them may include the following.
About 20-25 ml of fresh BM juice is administered to help lower blood sugar levels
The paste of Momordia charantia leaves is used as a medicine to treat the areas affected by skin diseases such as eczema. The paste is also used to heal wounds and piles of masses that occur outside the body.
To treat liver diseases, intestinal worms, and anorexia, about 15-20 ml of fresh Bitter Melon juice is administered.
Small pieces of BM are given to alleviate symptoms of fever.
The juice of the leaves and fruit of BM is given to purify the breast milk and to treat conditions of amenorrhea.
For detoxification of the blood, a dose of 20-25 ml of BM juice is consumed daily.
Taking BM with shardunika (Gymnema sylvestre), black pepper, and fenugreek can help manage blood sugar level and keep it within normal range.
BM, when consumed with shardunika, turmeric, and neem, promotes pancreatic health.
Amalaki (Indian gooseberry) combined with BM helps to balance excess pitta, which is present in the body as acidity and heat.
BM can help combat a variety of health conditions, but only when used in moderation. If consumed in large quantities, this bitter vegetable can induce severe stomach discomfort and diarrhoea. BM is not recommended for pregnant women in the early months since it might cause contractions, vaginal bleeding, or abortion.
If you have just undergone surgery or are suffering from a fever, consult with your doctor before having BM. Also, consult with your doctor if you are taking a high dose of diabetic medicine since it might interact with the medicine and induce hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Excess consumption of BM can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea. It may also induce coma, headache, fever (with excessive consumption of the seeds), and hypoglycemia.
The key benefits of having Bitter Melon may include blood sugar control, prevention of cardiac disease, fighting various types of cancer, helping with weight loss, boosting immunity, purifying the blood, and many more.
The BM has a plethora of health advantages in Ayurveda. It reaches the tissue layers and purifies the body by scraping and eliminating pollutants. It helps to eliminate heat, clear out ama, purify the blood, tone the digestive fire, and support a healthy pancreas, liver, and spleen, as well.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. Bitter Melon is also written as BM in this article.
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