Bitter Melon Momordica charantia
Bitter melon with goji berries
- Common Names
- Bitter Melon , balsam pear, bitter gourd, Karela
- Botanical Name
- Momordica charantia
Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Bitter Melon
How to Use| Side Effects | Plant & Garden|
- Medicinal Uses: * Ayurvedic
* Herpes/Cold Sores
- Properties: * Abortifacient * Antiscorbutic * Astringent * Hypoglycemic
- Parts Used: gourd fruit
- Constituents: glycosides: momordin, charantin alkaloids: momordicinothers: polypeptide-p oils (seed only): stearic, linoleic, oleic acids glycoproteins: alpha-momorcharin, beta-momorcharin, lectins
How to Use: Bitter Melon
The gourd-like fruit has a long history in Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine both a healthy food and medicine and its use as a treatment for diabetes is supported by scientific studies here in the west. Bitter melon improves the body's ability to use blood sugar and improves glucose tolerances. James Duke writes "One of the phytochemicals, charantin is said to be more potent than , and has fewer side effects.” and recommends eating one small melon a day 1 Several clinical trials have shown that bitter melon extract and juice lower blood sugar in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. There is good scientific evidence (Level B2) that bitter melon is effective at reducing blood glucose levels in diabetics. 2.
Bitter melon is used to treat infections caused by retrovirus and is being investigated in the treatment of HIV. 4 Other uses for bitter melon include treating colds, flu and fever, parasites, digestive and skin diseases.3
Preparation Methods & Dosage :Fresh Bitter melon is commonly found at Asian markets and can be used in cooking. Dried melon slices make a good tea.
Bitter Melon Remedies
In the Kitchen: The easiest place to find bitter melon is an Asian food market. Bitter melon is often used in stir fry dishes and combines well with ginger, lime, cilantro and garlic.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Bitter melon can be taken in whole fruit form or as a momordica extract, tincture, or juice. The latter forms are most likely to be available from practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Ayurvedic Medicine Bitter melon is light, easy to digest and calms kapha and pitta doshas. It is a good food for diabetes, is a mild laxative and liver tonic. 5
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
- Flowers: Yellow flowers, orange-yellow cucumber-like fruit. The fruit is the part of the plant used medicinally.
- Plant Type: Climbing vine reaching heights of six feet
- Leaves: Deeply lobed
- Distribution: Native to southern Asia and an important ingredient in Asian cuisine, bitter melon is cultivated in warm-weather regions throughout the world.
Regional Traditions :Ayurvedic * Traditional Chinese Medicine *
- James Duke. "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook" Rodale Books, (2000)
- Deng R. . A Review of the Hypoglycemic Effects of Five Commonly Used Herbs , American Botanical Council, (12-14-2012): ,
- . Bitter Melon , Sloan-Kettering, (): In vitro and animal studies indicate antiviral activity against HIV and herpes, cytotoxic effects against leukemic cells, and cytostatic effects in breast cancer, but related human studies have not been conducted.,
- Phyllis A. Balch. "Prescription for Herbal Healing" Avery, (2002) Bitter melon extracts are two to three times more effective that the popular prescription drug acyclovir (Zovirax) at killing strains of herpes viruses
- Usha Lad & Dr. Vasant Lad. "Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing" The Ayurvedic Press, (2006)