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Bitter Melon miracle cure?

Updated on May 23, 2014

What is bitter melon?

Bitter melon is used in folk remedies against various diseases in many parts of the world. It is claimed by many as a miracle cure. Is this myth or reality?

This lens aims at presenting in simple terms what is known and unknown about the fruit and its benefits. I show that none of the medicinal uses of bitter melon has been proven scientifically, although they have not been disproved, that no large-scale studies have been undertaken to validate its anecdodal benefits and that before generalizing its use further studies are required.

I would really like that the benefits of bitter melon are scientifically proved one day. I have entitled this lens Best Bitter Melon Lens because my intention is to create a great lens so that more people become aware of the potential benefits of bitter melon and press upon governments for more large-scale research on the action of bitter melon upon diseases.

Patients suffering from any of the diseases mentioned in this lens, especially diabetic patients on insulin, are advised to consult their physician before suspending their insulin treatment.

In Tropical Fruits for Health I speak of the benefits of tropical fruits and in Exotic Veg/Vegetarian Biryani recipe those of vegetables.

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What is bitter melon?

Scientific name: Mormodica charantia

Bitter melon or bitter gourd is a vine grown in many parts of the world, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Its fruit is one of the most bitter of all fruits, although bitterness varies greatly with varieties.

As other lenses have described bitter lemon in detail, please visit them (I have given the links below) if you would like to know more about it. In this lens I will lay more emphasis on its benefits.

Tribal and Herbal Medicine Uses

"In the Amazon, local people and indigenous tribes grow bitter melon in their gardens for food and medicine. They add the fruit and/or leaves to beans and soup for a bitter or sour flavor; parboiling it first with a dash of salt may remove some of the bitter taste. Medicinally, the plant has a long history of use by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. A leaf tea is used for diabetes, to expel intestinal gas, to promote menstruation, and as an antiviral for measles, hepatitis, and feverish conditions. It is used topically for sores, wounds, and infections and internally and externally for worms and parasites.

In Brazilian herbal medicine, bitter melon is used for tumors, wounds, rheumatism, malaria, vaginal discharge, inflammation, menstrual problems, diabetes, colic, fevers, worms. It is also used to induce abortions and as an aphrodisiac. It is prepared into a topical remedy for the skin to treat vaginitis, hemorrhoids, scabies, itchy rashes, eczema, leprosy and other skin problems. In Mexico, the entire plant is used for diabetes and dysentery; the root is a reputed aphrodisiac. In Peruvian herbal medicine, the leaf or aerial parts of the plant are used to treat measles, malaria, and all types of inflammation. In Nicaragua, the leaf is commonly used for stomach pain, diabetes, fevers, colds, coughs, headaches, malaria, skin complaints, menstrual disorders, aches and pains, hypertension, infections, and as an aid in childbirth." Quoted from Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest.

Bitter melon may have hypoglycemic effects, but data are not sufficient to recommend its use in the absence of careful supervision and monitoring.

W. Ethan Basch, Steven Gabardi and Catherine Ulbricht in Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia): A Review of Efficacy and Safety, Am J Health-Syst Pharm-Vol. 60, Feb. 15, 2003

Bitter melon against diabetes mellitus?

World Health Organization estimated that 285 million people, corresponding to 6.4% of the world's adult population, would now be living with diabetes and is expectin the number to grow to 438 million by 2030, which represents 7.8% of the adult population.

Wouldn't it be great if bitter melon could cure diabetes?

In fact bitter melon is known to reduce blood sugar and is used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus in many countries but it is not yet known how it regulates blood sugar. Some investigations have suggested some insulin-like properties of bitter melon. It has been also been suggested that bitter melon extract increases beta-cell production in the pancreas. However, this has not been confirmed by studies.

In India, doctors are so confident about the anti-diabetic effect of bitter melon that they often prescribe it to people suffering from diabetes in place of medication and in the Philippines the Department of Health has recommended bitter melon as one of the best herbal medicines for diabetic management.. However, great care should be taken before using bitter melon against diabetes mellitus as no large-scale studies have been undertaken regarding its safety. There are of two cases of hypoglycemic coma and convulsions in children after the intake of a bitter melon tea.

Bitter melon against HIV?

About 50 million people are affected throughout the world by HIV/AIDS. In 2009 1.8 million deaths were caused by the disease.

Could bitter melon be THE miracle cure?

Over the past few years there has been much interest in the USA and Asia in bitter melon as an alternative treatment for AIDs. A number of persons affected by HIV use extracts or home preparations.

It has indeed been shown that a protein called MAP 30 isolated from the fruit inhibits HIV activity. There also exist contradicting studies showing either immunosuppressive or immunomodulating properties of seed extracts.

It is clear that large-scale studies need to be carried out before generalization of bitter melon as a therapy against HIV.

.... (bitter melon) may provide us with one more agent as an extract that could be used against breast cancer if additional studies hold true.

Rajesh Agarwal, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado, Denver School of Pharmacy.

Bitter melon against breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a major killer among women of all countries. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with it during their lifetime. Could bitter melon used to prevent or cure it?

Research carried out in a laboratory by researcher Ratna Ray, professor of pathology at Saint Louis University, seems promising. According to her the extract from bitter melon killed breast cancer cells and she recommends the intake of bitter melon extract as a supplement for prevention. However, no clinical trials have been carried out on human beings, which means that this is not proof that bitter melon prevents or cures breast cancer. As Jessica Harris of Cancer Research UK puts it, many plant chemicals can kill cancer cells in the lab but very few end up as useful cancer drugs. It will take a lot more work and trials in people before we know if this extract could benefit cancer patients or about any unwanted side effects.

Other well-known uses of bitter melon

1. As a digestive aid. Because of its bitterness, it helps to stimulate digestion. It is thus a good treatment for dyspepsia and constipation.

2. Juice is an antidote for alcoholism.

3. Fresh juice of leaves useful in early stages of cholera.

4. Effective against eczema and psoriasis.

5. People suffering from piles can use the fresh juice or apply a paste of bitter melon roots over the piles.

Contraindications

1. Bitter melon is known to have abortive effects and should therefore not be taken during pregnancy.

2. As it reduces fertility in both males and females it should not be used by persons undergoing fertility treatment or seeking pregnancy.

3. Chemicals in bitter melon can be transferred through breast milk, which means that breast feeding women should not take it.

4. All parts of the fruit (especially the fruit and seed) lower blood sugar levels. It is therefore contraindicated in persons with hypoglycemia.

Scientific literature

1. Raman A, Lau C. Anti-diabetic properties and phytochemistry of Momordica charantia L (Curcurbitaceae). Phytomed 1996..

2. Welihinda J et al. Effect of Momardica charantia on the glucose tolerance in maturity onset diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol 1986.

3. Srivastava Y, et al. Anti-diabetic and adaptogenic properties of Momordica charantia extract: An experimental and clinical evaluation. Phytother Res 1993..

4. Lee-Huang, S. et al. Anti-HIV and anti-tumour activities of recombinant MAP 30 from bitter melon. Gene 1995.

5. Zhang QC. Preliminary report on the use of Momordica charantia extract by HIV patients, J Naturopathic Med 1992.

6. W. Ethan Basch, Steven Gabardi and Catherine Ulbricht in Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia): A Review of Efficacy and Safety, Am J Health-Syst Pharm-Vol. 60, Feb. 15, 2003

Would you like to grow bitter melon? - Here is a short clip with tips

Squid Angel Blessings

This lens has been blessed by howtocurecancer on 29 April 2011, ColorPetGifts on 06/05/2011, Skiesgreen, Janiece on 01/22/2011 and Lifeboost on 01/25/2011 Thank you, howtocurecancer, ColorPetGifts, skiesgreen, Janiece and Lifeboost.

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    • profile image

      NATASHA 18 months ago

      I was been suffering hard shiply from HIV / AIDS since 6 yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have to do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by Ms cludia about how this powerful traditional doctor help her get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) "my fellow beloved" i firstly taught having a help from a spiritual traditional healer was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life? "so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address drogboduherbalcurepalace@gmail.com, so after i have mailed him of helping me to cured my disease, he respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items

      and obeyed all he said. I did all by accepting his oracle fact and only to see that the following week Dr ADEKULE mail me on my mail box that my work is successfully done, he sent me the medicine through UPS SPEED POST. I took the medicine as prescribed by him and 14 days later he ask for medical test

      i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test in the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV-Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power.With these i must to everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at this Email: drogboduherbalcurepalace@gmail.com

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    • profile image

      NELIDA 19 months ago

      THANK YOU OR SHARING THIS INFORMATION

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was informed by a Filipino young woman suffering from Excema that using the

      extracted juice cured her of the affliction. Lost faith in her dermatologist. With

      this good news, I am using this in a mixture of stewed vegetables in the hope that

      it will cure me of my excema in my leg. One leg healed and the other one is hanging in there for over three years now. I am hoping and praying for complete recovery.

    • CanHealthInsure profile image

      CanHealthInsure 4 years ago

      Bitter Melon? Interesting. Never heard of this.

    • veggievegans profile image

      veggievegans 5 years ago

      very interesting, haven't encountered this in the UK

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I have heard about so many miracle cures and I have to admit I am becoming a skeptical. But you presented very interesting info and made some good points on bitter melon. If there is data about any sort of help to people with diabetes, or maybe hiv infection, this should be carefully studied by scientists.

      I hope we'll see some serious studios on bitter melon and I hope it will happen soon!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Interesting and informative. Sounds like we could use more scientific study. Thanks for your effort to make us aware.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Bitter melon is truly a blessing for people with diabetes. Thanks for collating all this information.

    • vkumar05 profile image

      vkumar05 5 years ago

      Nice Lens. Enjoyed reading it.

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love bitterroot. Great lenses.

    • rainbowbutterfl1 profile image

      rainbowbutterfl1 5 years ago

      This lens is full of information about bitter melon. My mother believes on natural cure. Hopefully, the government will push through more studies about this fruit and many others.

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      What an interesting lens! I hadn't heard of better melon before. Blessed by a Squid Angel. :)

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 5 years ago from Ozun

      i believe in natural cures, and even with no studies, bitter melon, together with so many fruits and vegetables definitely helps against cancer, because is lowering the body's PH. Thanks to show this info about the bitter melon.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very nice and useful information. Thanks for sharing!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very useful especially when many people in our family has diabetes. Blessed.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      This is such a great piece of helpful information that I have come back to bless it and feature it on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs.

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 5 years ago

      Very interesting info about Bitter Melon. I wish more of these herbal medicines could be approved for safe use.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning to review your informations on bitter melon.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      what if you don't know you are pregnant and ingest some of this ? will it still abort the baby?

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 5 years ago

      never have heard of them. thanks for making me aware.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

      i like bitter melon. slice them thinly and sauté in garlic. add some minced meat. salt and pepper to taste. good to eat with rice. don't forget to remove the seeds, scrape them off. bitter melon is a remedy against goiter.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I wasn't aware of the benefits of bitter melon. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

    • littlelotus profile image

      littlelotus 6 years ago

      I love bitter melon.... may sound strange to some people I guess.... but the bitterness is kinda refreshing:) my fave bitter melon recipe: stir fry with egg... or steam and eat with peanut sauce ;)

    • chefspecial lm profile image

      chefspecial lm 6 years ago

      Bitter melon is awesome at getting rid of my colds. My acupuncturist recommended it to me. I have been using some other alternatives to get rid of seizures - https://hubpages.com/health/alternative-treatment-...

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 6 years ago

      This was something new to me as I have never heard about bitter melon used as a medicine remedy. Great lens with lots of resources!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I wasn't aware of bitter melon. I love learning about medicinal uses of plants. Very interesting and important topic. Thanks for increasing my awareness of holistic options for health. As always, very nicely done!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It's a great to eat sliced thinly and soaked in vinegar or sauté it with eggs. Make sure you slice them thinly and squeeze out the bitter juice.

    • Ronchen profile image

      Ronchen 6 years ago

      Actually, I like eating bitter melon when I go to a chinese restaurant. Thanks for all the great info.

    • profile image

      hamshi5433 6 years ago

      They`re really good for health but yucky so bitter! My dad loves them though ha :D Informative lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is new to me, very informative, great lens :)

    • profile image

      GabrielaFargasch 6 years ago

      Wow! I had never heard of bitter melons before!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A very useful Lens indeed. Thanx a lot for the useful info.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've had bitter melon many times when I was in Goa, India. My mom makes delicious dishes out of it and I liked it best, fried. I didn't know all the health benefits of it and learned a lot from this lens, including some of the cautions. Blessings! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love learning something new everyday. I hadn't heard of the Bitter Melon and its healing properties. Thank you for sharing, I hope to find one of these melons some time.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I had never heard of bitter melon before today. Could it be a miracle cure? Perhaps for some by the sounds of your article. Best wishes.

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      This is the first time I've heard of this.

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information about bitter melon.

    • Khalid-Osman profile image

      Khalid-Osman 6 years ago

      This is a good lens with good information on an interesting and not well-known topic. Local people in Africa use the seeds of the other (sweet gourd) to cure intestinal worms and the fruits make tasteful food in the local cuisine. They buy the fried seeds in local markets and the seeds are now exported to some countries in the world.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Well done lens.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      regularly i am consuming this bitter melon only bcz of its medicinal value. nice informative lens.

    • Glenn619 profile image

      Glenn619 6 years ago

      Bitter melon i love eating them with mince, they taste good

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Great information lens, thank you for bringing awareness os this wonderful plant. Featured on The Hideous Side of Diabetes