Bitter Melon: Health Benefits and How to Use
Table of Contents
Bitter Melon is a powerful food that can help with several health issues. For example, it has been used to treat gastrointestinal problems, improve digestion and reduce blood sugar levels. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits, nutrition, and how you should use it in your daily life as part of an overall healthy diet plan.
Bitter Melon is a type of vegetable that has been used in many traditional medicines. It has many health benefits and can be eaten raw or cooked. The bitterness of the Melon can help with digestion, but it also helps with blood sugar levels.
Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) is a medicinal and edible fruit native to Asia, Africa, and portions of the Caribbean. It has a long history of usage in China, Ayurvedic medicine (an ancient Indian medicinal method that has been practiced for over 3,000 years), and some of the world’s healthiest regions, including Okinawa, Japan (one of the world’s “blue zones”).
Bitter Melon was first used for culinary and medical purposes in India, according to records, and was subsequently adopted into Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques during the 14th century. The Chinese were drawn to the Bitter Melon’s very sour flavor since bitter foods are known to be purifying for the body and capable of increasing liver function. They started preparing the fruit utilizing it in dishes and juicing it to make a tonic to aid with indigestion, upset stomach, skin sores, persistent coughs, and respiratory infections.
Over 100 clinical and observational investigations have been conducted on bitter Melon. It’s most recognized for its hypoglycemic properties (the capacity to drop blood sugar). A study reveals that Melon’s juice, fruit, and dry powder may all be used to imitate the actions of insulin and cure diabetes.
Bitter Melon, bitter gourd, balsam, bitter apple, and Carilla fruit are some of the popular names for Momordica charantia across the globe. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family and is now largely farmed for medicinal purposes in two varieties (M. charantia var. charantia and M. charantia var. muricata), chiefly in India.
There are over a dozen distinct varieties of the plant growing all over the globe, and its beneficial characteristics, flavor, texture, size, and look vary greatly. The most common kind of bitter melon plant produces a tiny, spherical fruit with a pronounced sour/tart flavor.
The immature fruit is sometimes used as a vegetable in stir-fries or other dishes, particularly in Asia. It may be eaten raw or cooked, and it can also be made into a concentrated extract with high quantities of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
1. Assists in the normalization of blood sugar levels
The concentrated bitter melon extract has been shown to have a hypoglycemic impact in both human and animal trials, which means it helps to reduce blood glucose (sugar) levels and control the body’s insulin utilization. Bitter melon extract is similar to the natural insulin produced by the body in many respects.
“Over 100 research utilizing contemporary methodologies have confirmed its use in diabetes and its consequences,” according to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Bitter melon extract may help treat the following diabetic symptoms and complications:
- Insulin resistance and blood sugar levels that are too high
- Nephropathy is a disease of the kidneys (kidney damage)
- Cataracts and glaucoma are examples of eye ailments.
- Women’s hormonal abnormalities and menstrual changes
- Complications of the heart and blood vessel injury
While Momordica charantia has been shown in several trials to help with blood sugar control and diabetes management, its benefits seem to be dependent on how it is ingested. Although previous research has revealed that reactivity varies depending on the person, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Studies demonstrated that bitter Melon ingested in both raw and juice form helped to reduce blood glucose levels in healthy and diabetic animals.
The hypoglycemic effects of bitter melon extract and seeds on mice with normal or raised blood sugar levels were investigated in this research. Bitter melon extract (1 g/kg) effectively reduced blood glucose levels in both normal and diabetic mice, according to the findings.
It did so largely by modulating insulin signaling pathways in muscles and fat cells (adipose tissues), allowing cells to take up more glucose from the blood when necessary. Bitter Melon has been demonstrated to engage insulin receptor sites and activate downstream pathways, prompting researchers to believe it might be a useful “glucose metabolism regulator.”
Other studies have shown that bitter Melon’s anti-diabetic properties are due to a combination of active components. The steroidal saponins (also known as charantins), insulin-like peptides, and alkaloids found in the fruit of the Momordica charantia plant are the most abundant.
2. Fights Bacterial and Viral Infections
According to research, bitter Melon has been shown to possess a variety of antibacterial and antiviral properties. These medications may reduce susceptibility to infections like Helicobacter pylori (a common bacterium linked to the development of stomach ulcers in people with weakened immune systems), as well as viruses like HIV.
Powdered Bitter Melon has been used in Ayurveda for ages “for dusting over leprous and other intractable ulcers and in mending wounds, particularly when blended with cinnamon, long pepper, rice, and chaulmugra oil,” according to a paper published in the International Journal of Microbiology. In addition, the bitter melon extract has been effectively utilized in rats to treat pylorus ligation, aspirin, and stress-induced ulcers, with substantial improvements in ulcer symptoms.
Bitter Melon also contains anthelmintic agents, which are anti-parasitic substances that aid in the expulsion of parasitic worms and other internal parasites from the body. Anthelmintics operate by eradicating parasites inside the body without harming the host (the person or animal carrying the parasite).
3. Beneficial to the Digestive and Liver Systems
There’s evidence that bitter melon extract can help reduce stomach and intestinal disorders, decrease kidney stones, help prevent liver disease and improve liver function, help treat parasitic worms that enter the GI tract, reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (including colitis) and improve overall digestive health. In addition, bitter melon extract raised glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase, according to research conducted at Annamalai University in India assisting in assisting in detoxifying and preventing liver damage.
Bitter Melon also has natural laxative properties; thus, it may aid with constipation. Bitter Melon was traditionally used to treat stomach aches and ulcers. It was recently revealed that it might help fight the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, linked to ulcer development.
4. Can Assist in Cancer Prevention
Several studies have shown bitter Melon’s usefulness in preventing or controlling diseases such as lymphoid leukemia, lymphoma, choriocarcinoma, melanoma, breast cancer, skin tumor, prostatic cancer, carcinoma of the tongue, and larynx, bladder cancer, and Hodgkin’s disease, despite mixed findings.
What is the role of bitter Melon as a cancer-fighting food? Momordica charantia possesses “anti-cancerous, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumourous” qualities, according to the University of Calcutta’s Department of Biophysics, Molecular Biology, and Bioinformatics.
While further study is required, a limited number of studies have revealed that cancer patients who used bitter Melon in conjunction with other therapies had positive outcomes. Bitter melon extracts have been proven to improve metal chelation, detoxification, lipid peroxidation, and free radical damage, all of which contribute to cell mutations and tumor formation.
The University of Hong Kong’s School of Biomedical Sciences has discovered over 20 active components in bitter Melon that have anti-tumor effects. They concluded that bitter Melon is an “anti-diabetic, anti-HIV, and anti-tumor chemical” and that it is “a cornucopia of health” that “deserves in-depth study for clinical use in the future.”
5. Relieves Symptoms and Disorders of the Respiratory System
Bitter Melon may help prevent common diseases like coughs, colds, and the flu by enhancing detoxification, improving blood flow, lowering inflammation, and reducing free radical damage.
For fighting against dangerous infections and illnesses, as well as lowering seasonal allergies and asthma, a healthy immune system and a well-functioning digestive system are crucial. For hundreds of years, bitter melon fruit juice has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat dry coughs, bronchitis, and sore throats.
Bitter melon juice, fruit, and seeds have been shown in studies to help reduce respiratory diseases, coughs, mucous, and food allergies.
6. Aids in the treatment of skin inflammation and wounds
According to many studies, bitter Melon has anti-inflammatory chemicals that may help cure skin diseases, including eczema and psoriasis. Bitter Melon has historically (and sometimes even today) been used topically on the skin to cure deep skin infections (abscesses) and wounds without antibiotics due to its antibacterial characteristics.
7. May Aid in the Prevention of Obesity and Heart Disease
Bitter melon fruit extract has been demonstrated to have excellent antioxidant properties in both human and animal investigations. Bitter Melon has the ability to reduce obesity and other symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, in addition to regulating hormones connected to diabetes (such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure).
Bitter Melon is effective in preventing weight gain through mediating and initiating lipid and fat metabolizing processes, gene expressions that govern hunger and body weight, and lowering inflammation, according to experimental animal and human investigations.
Proinflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress have been linked to metabolic abnormalities such as insulin resistance and immune response activation in the liver, adipose tissue, and muscles. Several studies have shown that bitter Melon may help laboratory animals lose weight when they are fed a high-fat diet. Bitter melon supplementation dramatically reduced body weight growth and visceral fat accumulation in rats given a high-fat diet. Weight loss might be the consequence of enhanced fatty acid oxidation, which helps people lose weight.
Facts to Ponder
Bitter Melon was initially used by folklore and herbal medicine practitioners in Asia and Africa. For at least 700 years, the fruit has been employed in traditional treatment systems in India, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan, and Turkey!
Despite its strong, often off-putting flavor, bitter Melon is used as a stomach soother in Turkish traditional medicine. Hundreds of years ago, Turkish medics utilized bitter Melon to treat ulcers, constipation, water retention, bloating, and other ailments.
Bitter Melon is one of the most significant plants in Ayurvedic “ethnobotanical techniques” in India. The fruit has been used in Ayurveda to assist balance hormones, regulate diabetic symptoms, decrease digestive disturbance, cure skin issues or wounds, and as a natural laxative to treat constipation. Bitter Melon is also known for functioning as a natural cough suppressant and respiratory disease protection.
In locations like Bangladesh and numerous other Asian nations, bitter Melon is still frequently utilized as a vegetable in everyday cooking. Due to its availability, cheap cost, and multi-purpose usage, it is still utilized as a medicinal plant for the treatment of numerous ailments in underdeveloped nations (such as Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ghana, Haiti, India, Mexico, Malaya, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru). It’s also a popular stir-fry ingredient in China, India, and Japan, where it’s touted for its digestive-boosting properties.
How to Make Use of
- Bitter melon fruit may be eaten raw, cooked with, or taken as an extract or a tablet.
- Look for green, firm immature melon fruit that isn’t bruising or splitting. It should be kept at low temperatures, preferably in the refrigerator, for 1–2 weeks or until the green tint fades.
- If you can get the entire fruit, try preparing it the way it’s done in Asia: stir-frying it with potatoes, garlic, chile, and onion until the pungent fragrance subsides.
- Once a day, consume up to 100 milliliters of fresh bitter melon juice. Use a tiny quantity diluted with fresh squeezed fruit or vegetable juice, or add a small amount of raw honey to lessen the bitterness of the fresh fruit or fresh fruit juice.
- Bitter melon extract dosage is determined on the ailment being treated. The majority of studies demonstrate that ingesting 1000–2000 mg, daily provides the most powerful benefits. To aid absorption, several companies advocate dividing dosages into 2–3 portions and taking capsules after meals.
- Bitter Melon is commonly taken three times a day, after meals, in quantities of 1–2 capsules for up to three months. This dosage has been demonstrated to aid with blood sugar control and diabetic problems, but there isn’t enough information regarding its effects when taken for more than three months.
- Look for pure bitter melon extract in tablet or capsule form that is organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, magnesium-stearate-free, and devoid of synthetic ingredients.
Side Effects and Risks
According to current research, bitter Melon should be taken in combination with other preventative strategies (such as maintaining a balanced diet and exercising to decrease inflammation), as well as traditional therapies when needed. Before using bitter melon products, consider the following potential adverse effects and precautions:
- While this Melon has been shown to have hypoglycemic properties, the scientific evidence is insufficient to advocate its usage for diabetic treatment without rigorous supervision and monitoring. Bitter melon “cannot be recommended as a replacement therapy for insulin or hypoglycemic drugs” at this time, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, so if you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic, it’s best to talk to your doctor about using bitter melon extract in addition to your current treatment plan. Bitter Melon may interact with diabetic treatments since it decreases blood sugar. If you take diabetic medication, bear in mind that it may cause your blood sugar to drop too low, so you should check it.
- Bitter Melon should not be consumed by pregnant women, women who are attempting to get pregnant, or women who are nursing, according to a study, since it contains abortifacient characteristics (those that might cause miscarriages), can induce menstrual bleeding, and has anti-fertility effects.
- Bitter Melon should be avoided if you’ve just had surgery, have been fasting, or have lost a lot of blood for another reason since it might mess with your blood sugar regulation and induce dizziness or fainting.
- Bitter Melon (also known as bitter gourd) is a sour, green fruit that is extensively eaten in Asia and utilized for its therapeutic benefits all over the globe.
- Immunity is boosted, diabetic symptoms are reduced, free radical damage and inflammation are reduced, skin issues are treated, digestion is improved, and cancer is prevented.
- It’s available in raw, cooked, extract, and tablet form. Most illnesses need 1,000–2,000 mg of this melon extract daily (divided into 2–3 doses), while bitter Melon should be avoided by pregnant women, people with diabetes, and persons recuperating from surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you take bitter Melon?
A: 1 cup of water, 1/2 tsp of honey, and a teaspoon or so of bitter melon seeds.
Bring the mixture to a boil, turn off the heat, and sit overnight before drinking.
How much bitter Melon do I use?
A: You can use as much or little bitter melon syrup as your tastebuds desire.
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