Bitter Melon miracle cure?
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.
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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.
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.
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
Books on bitter melon
Would you like to grow bitter melon? - Here is a short clip with tips
If you want to know more about bitter melon
- B is for Bitter melons
Interesting informative lens about bitter melon
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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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