Bitter Gourd (Ampalaya)

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Bunch of Bitter Gourd-Melon, Momordica charantia, Ampalaya, or Amargoso
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Ripe Bitter Gourd-Melon, Momordica charantia, Ampalaya, or Amargoso: Open end exposing Red seeds
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Ripe Bitter Gourd-Melon, Momordica charantia, Ampalaya, or Amargoso: Fully Open end exposing Red seeds
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Ripe Bitter Gourd-Melon, Momordica charantia, Ampalaya, or Amargoso: Flower

Bitter Gourd-Melon (Ampalaya or Amargoso) – Momordica charantia

Well-known for its bitter edible fruit, Ampalaya is a herbaceous, climbing vine growing up to five meters. The plant have heart-shaped leaves and bear green oblong-shaped fruits. Leaves, fruits and roots are used in treating several health disorders.

Medicinal Uses:

  • Juice extracted from leaves is effective in easing cough, pneumonia, heal wounds, and combating intestinal parasites.
  • Juice from fruits aids in treating dysentery and chronic colitis.
  • Decoction of roots and seeds is effective in treating hemorrhoids, rheumatism, abdominal pain, psoriasis and urethral discharges.
  • Pounded leaves used for eczema, jaundice, and scalds.
  • Decoction of leaves is effective for fevers.

Recent studies have suggested that the bitter fruit contains plant insulin, helpful for its blood sugar lowering effect. Ampalaya is recommended for diabetic individuals to take.

Description of Bitter Gourd-Melon (Ampalaya or Amargoso)

This herbaceous, tendril-bearing vine grows to 5 m. It bears simple, alternate leaves 4–12 cm across, with three to seven deeply separated lobes. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. In the Northern Hemisphere, flowering occurs during June to July and fruiting during September to November.

The fruit has a distinct warty exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large, flat seeds and pith. The fruit is most often eaten green, or as it is beginning to turn yellow. At this stage, the fruit's flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, chayote or green bell pepper, but bitter. The skin is tender and edible. Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits; they are not intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking.

As the fruit ripens, the flesh (rind) becomes tougher, more bitter, and too distasteful to eat. On the other hand, the pith becomes sweet and intensely red; it can be eaten uncooked in this state, and is a popular ingredient in some Southeast Asian salads.

When the fruit is fully ripe, it turns orange and mushy, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp. (source verbatim from: wikipedia)

Varieties of Bitter Gourd-Melon (Ampalaya or Amargoso)

Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Chinese variety is 20–30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. It is green to white in color. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. Some bear miniature fruit of only 6–10 cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruit are popular in India, Nepal and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

source of information is verbatim from: wikipedia

Culinary uses of Bitter Gourd-Melon (Ampalaya or Amargoso)

Bitter melon is generally consumed cooked in the green or early yellowing stage. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter melon may also be eaten as greens.

Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also in tisanes. It has also been used in place of hops as the bittering ingredient in some Chinese and Okinawan beers.

It is very popular throughout South Asia. In Northern India, it is often prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, or used in sabzi. In North Indian cuisine, it is stuffed with spices and then cooked in oil. In Southern India, it is used in the dishes thoran/thuvaran (mixed with grated coconut), theeyal (cooked with roasted coconut) and pachadi (which is considered a medicinal food for diabetics). Other popular recipes include preparations with curry, deep fried with peanuts or other ground nuts, and Pachi Pulusu (కాకరకాయ పచ్చి పులుసు), a soup with fried onions and other spices.In Tamil Nadu, a special preparation in Brahmins' cuisine called pagarkai pitla (பாகற்காய் பிட்லா) a kind of sour koottu (கூட்டு) variety is very popular. Also popular is kattu pagarkkai (கட்டு பாகற்காய்) a curry stuffed with onions, cooked lentil and grated coconut mix, tied with thread and fried in oil. In Konkan region of Maharashtra, salt is added to finely chopped bitter gourd and then it is squeezed, removing its bitter juice to some extent.After frying this with different spices, less bitter and crispy preparation is served with grated coconut.

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, bitter melon is often cooked with onions, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, and a pinch of cumin seeds. Another dish in Pakistan calls for whole, unpeeled bitter melon to be boiled and then stuffed with cooked ground beef, served with either hot tandoori bread, naan, chappati, or with khichri (a mixture of lentils and rice).

Bitter melon is a significant ingredient in Okinawan cuisine, and is increasingly used in mainland Japan. It is popularly credited with Okinawan life expectancies being higher than the already long Japanese ones.

In Indonesia, bitter melon is prepared in various dishes, such as gado-gado, and also stir fried, cooked in coconut milk, or steamed.

In Vietnam, raw bitter melon slices consumed with dried meat floss and bitter melon soup with shrimp are popular dishes. Bitter melons stuffed with ground pork are served as a popular summer soup in the south. It is also used as the main ingredient of "stewed bitter melon". This dish is usually cooked for the Tết holiday, where its "bitter" name is taken as a reminder of the poor living conditions experienced in the past.

In the Philippines, bitter melon may be stir-fried with ground beef and oyster sauce, or with eggs and diced tomato. The dish pinakbet, popular in the Ilocos region of Luzon, consists mainly of bitter melons, eggplant, okra, string beans, tomatoes, lima beans, and other various regional vegetables altogether stewed with a little bagoong-based stock.

In Nepal, bitter melon is prepared as a fresh pickle called achar. For this, the bitter gourd is cut into cubes or slices and sautéed covered in oil and a sprinkle of water. When it is softened and reduced, it is minced in a mortar with a few cloves of garlic, salt and a red or green pepper. It is also sautéed to golden-brown, stuffed, or as a curry on its own or with potatoes.

In Trinidad and Tobago bitter melons are usually sauteed with onion, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper until almost crisp.

source of information copied verbatim from: wikipedia

News About Bitter Gourd (Ampalaya)

Bitter melon - A Natural Antibiotic

By Raazia Syed

“Oh Mom, you know I am a meat lover and even today you have cooked bitter melon, is this your favourite vegetable? I cannot eat any vegetable without meat.”

This is the story of every youngster today; they don’t like vegetables and beans, but only demand for mutton and chicken. It can be noticed that young generation prefer to eat pizzas and burgers and other fast food items.

Fast food is the main cause of many harmful diseases, although vegetables like bitter melon are very useful for our strong body and healthy brain. Bitter melon is a natural antibiotic, it is found in Asia, Africa, South America and Caribbean countries.

According to the research, conducted in 2010, bitter melon is used in cure of many chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. It is the better treatment for cancer patients, because it lowers the cell proliferation and induced apoptotic cell death.

Talking about diabetes, if diabetics use 2000 mg quantity of bitter melon, they can lower their sugar level very easily, moreover its extracts destroys glucose metabolism and prevents from high blood sugar.

People use its juice and extracts as medicine, and cook full minced bitter melon. This vegetables full of all essential ingredients, it contains iron and minerals but it is found in only summer season. If you have gas trouble and abdominal pain you should avoid bitter melon.

Protect your body with bitter gourd

By Victoria Nampala

The fruit also known as bitter melon or bitter squash can be eaten as vegetable or blended to make juice.

Bitter gourd (Kalera) is a fruit that looks like cucumber or chameleon with warts, belonging to the cucumber family.

The fruit also known as bitter melon or bitter squash can be eaten as vegetable or blended to make juice.

The fruit is sour as the name states but it is associated with many nutritional and medicinal values.

According to Moses Luggwa, a nutritionist from Kampala Hospital, the Bitter gourd detoxifies and helps to clean the blood in cases of hangovers, piles, and poison among others.

Luggwa also noted that bitter gourd stimulates a smooth digestion and proper movement of food through the bowel until it is defecated from the body.

The fruit is an insulin food that is believed to lower blood sugar levels in diabetic people.

Its bitterness can be reduced by cutting it into pieces and soaking them in mild-water for 10-20mins.

Musta Ramathan, a chef from Truddies at Nakulabye, bitter gourd can be eaten with bread, pizza and blended to make juice or fried and consumed as vegetables respectively.

“Bitter gourd is my family’s vegetable and I don’t remember when I last paid hospital bills for any of my three children in the last three years,” said Ramathan.

According to Dr. Pauline Byakika Kibwika, associate professor of internal medicine, bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin-C which is one is of the powerful natural antioxidant that helps to search harmful free waste from the human body.

Bitter gourd also reduces the rate at which cancer spreads in the body cells. Dr Henry Ddungu, an oncologist from Mulago Cancer Institute says the fruit can prevent the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

Bitter melon acts as the cellular level to stop cancer cells from both multiplying and spreading. “Bitter melon facilitates the body's natural means of eradicating cancer cells on its own, which it does on a constant basis to prevent the formation of tumors,” he says.

Sister Norah Mudukaki, a retired midwife and senior nursing officer from Nsambya hospital says, the two important problems faced by most of the pregnant women are constipation and hemorrhoids. The fiber content of bitter gourd helps in reducing these problems.

“During pregnancy, the smallest of illnesses can cause a lot of problems. A simple cough and cold can take a toll on your body when you are pregnant. What you need is to boost your immune system. Bitter gourd contains vitamin C, which is popular for its antioxidant properties. This property helps bitter gourd boost your immune system and fight common illnesses,” she say.

Dr. Simon Ssekitto, physiotherapist from Nkozi hospital says drinking at least 10 gram of bitter Gourd juice, and by applying it on knees, cures knee pain.

Bitter gourd contains Vitamin K, one of the most important nutrients for healthy bones. Bitter melon is also a great source of calcium, which is excellent for bones as well. Thus, eating bitter melon could help you prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Justus Magala, a trader in Nakasero market, says: “Bitter melon is fairly available on the market and the demand is impressive”.

He says the prices range between sh2, 000 to sh3, 000 for a batch of four bitter melons, and during off-season, that price hikes to the region of sh4,000.

Magala, however noted that the prices don’t affect the demand since it can be sold from Sh1000 and beyond respectively.

You Say Karela, I Say Bittermelon; In Flushing, Finding Common Ground in a Riot of Ethnic Foods


After eight months in Flushing, Queens, squeezing, shaking, sniffing and tasting, Erin H. Moriarty has learned a few things about the leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes and other plant life that draw shoppers from across New York to the end of the line on the 7 train.

First, yuck. Some of this stuff is scary, Ms. Moriarty said. Grass jelly drink comes to mind.

Second, yum. There are some very nice desserts, she said. Like black sweet rice wrapped in banana leaves and doused in coconut milk.

Third, no thanks. People offer me food all of the time, but I am not daring enough to try most of it, she said, spitting out the salty crumbs of a dried yogurt ball from Afghanistan.

Yuck, yum and no thanks, when taken collectively, make some big statements about the culinary habits of many of New York's newcomers, the kind of things that census tallies and demographic data do not quantify. In one small and unscientific sampling, Ms. Moriarty, the gardener in residence at the Queens Botanical Garden, is studying immigrants who shop in Flushing through the fruit and vegetable stands they frequent.

Her main conclusion is that much of what goes into the stomachs of many of the newest New Yorkers may seem exotic -- at times even revolting -- to the city's more tenured residents. But on closer examination, the plants that bind us are actually more bountiful than the plants that divide us, she said.

In the language she knows best, Ms. Moriarty has discovered that for every durian, a spiky tropical fruit from Southeast Asia that can be as smelly as a fish market in the dead of August, Flushing's ethnic markets offer many more papayas, the sweet yellow fruit that is popular in dishes prepared from the West Indies to the Philippines.

People are always emphasizing the differences between cultures, but when you look at what we eat, you will see that there are a lot of the same basic foods, just prepared differently, said Ms. Moriarty, who is compiling an ethnographical survey of Flushing's downtown, which is among the most vibrant ethnic shopping districts in the city.

Her notion of vegetable diplomacy is illustrated not only by the obvious, like onions, hot peppers, tomatoes and rice that spill from the bins at any number of the markets catering to immigrants from China, Taiwan, Korea, India, Afghanistan, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and a host of Central and South American countries.

The message also comes by way of less likely ambassadors, including a gourd that looks like a green hedgehog with spiny warts and a tail.

It is known at Patel Brothers, an Indian store on Main Street not far from the botanical garden, as karela, its Hindi name. But a variation of the same plant is called bittermelon at the nearby Winmark Supermarket, which caters mostly to Chinese and Southeast Asian customers. Sometimes named bitter gourd, it grows in tropical areas around the world, including East Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and South America. In many households, it serves as both food and traditional medicine.

You fry it in oil with salt and pepper and garlic, said Suresh Patel, a regular shopper who moved to Flushing from Bombay. The Indian ones are smaller than the Chinese ones. All of them are very bitter.

Another of Ms. Moriarty's goodwill messengers is the pear-shaped chayote, a tropical gourd cultivated centuries ago by the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America that can be found in New York in equal abundance in the grocery bags of Asian and Hispanic shoppers. The gourd's unusual appearance -- its name in Cantonese describes the folded hands of a praying Buddha -- has helped make it hugely popular among New York's Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian residents, she said. The shoots, flowers, seeds and roots also can be eaten.

The cross-cultural culinary list goes on. There are cabbages and squashes and eggplants and melons and bean sprouts and roots that vary in color and length and weight and texture but whose basic characteristics transcend geographic and ethnic definitions. One of Ms. Moriarty's favorites in the Chinese shops is the yard-long bean, which is essentially an ordinary string bean that kept growing.

You chop it up and put in a stir fry like anything else, she said.

Fenugreek, an herb common in Greek cooking, is sold at the Mediterranean Food and Gift Center on Northern Boulevard; the same leaves, known as methi, are kept in a cooler at Patel Brothers. Greek shoppers also use rosewater, which is distilled water flavored with rose oil, as an ingredient in desserts. At Patel Brothers, rose syrup from Bombay is sold as a sweetener.

Hospitality may not be a plant, but it also seems to follow Ms. Moriarty's thesis about Flushing.

When she dropped in at Shun An Tong, a Chinese health food store on Roosevelt Avenue, one of the owners, Lin Su, filled a paper cup with ginseng tea and opened a box of red dates.

This is good for your stomach, Mrs. Su said with that familiar look of a grandmother warming a pot of chicken soup.

Outside, a curbside tofu vendor, known to Ms. Moriarty only as Mr. Chen, dipped into his vat of warm bean curd, filled a plastic cup and offered it to her with a healthy topping of honey.

At the Ariana Market on Main Street, the manager, Najim Faqiri, served sweetened green tea with dried yogurt balls and white mulberries as Ms. Moriarty inspected bins of black, red and green raisins from Mr. Faqiri's native Afghanistan. Though she is strictly a plant person (a vegetarian, Ms. Moriarty, 22, graduated last year with a degree in ethnobotany from Vassar College), she ventured into the walk-in freezer, where Mr. Faqiri showed off prize cuts of lamb and goat.

I am getting better at trying things, but I am still careful, Ms. Moriarty said, deciding that it had been a mistake to accept the yogurt ball. When I first came here as an intern, I was like, 'This is a whole new place I know nothing about.' One time I was given the strongest ginger tea I had ever tasted. I was dying. I learned from that.

After eight months of research, Ms. Moriarty says Flushing still seems like a whole new place. In fact, her second main conclusion from her work is a personal one: she still knows so little about the secrets of the neighborhood. Her eyes glazed over when she was asked about the buckets of nuts and seeds and thick roots lined up the length of a deli counter in one of the stores.

Some items, she confessed, she was seeing for the first time. A bin of what looked like brown beans was labeled semen curyales. Ms. Moriarty suggested that something got lost in the translation, but she could not say for certain what they were. A worker at the shop was also unable to offer an explanation. A few days later, the sign had been changed to dried lotus seed.

There are so many things I still haven't learned, Ms. Moriarty said.

What she has learned is being documented, in keeping with the multicultural focus of the Queens Botanical Garden. Created for the World's Fair in 1939, the onetime horticultural display shifted its mandate in the late 1990's from that of a traditional garden to one that preserves plants as expressions of cultural traditions. Last year, for example, the garden added the Farm, an exhibit that emphasized ethnic foods and cultural gardening techniques. It also created the position of gardener in residence.

As part of her research, Ms. Moriarty is compiling a horticultural index of the many plants she has found in Flushing. She is also writing a series of essays about her encounters with the people and foods of Main Street, which the botanical garden plans to publish as a book.

On Saturday, she will lead a public tour through several of her favorite markets. The itinerary will be somewhat spontaneous, but walkers should expect to see examples of both the plants that bind and the plants that divide. Taste-testing will be optional.

A Ton Of Bitter Melon Produces Sweet Results For Diabetes

(Garvan Institute of Medical Research)

Scientists have uncovered the therapeutic properties of bitter melon, a vegetable and traditional Chinese medicine, that make it a powerful treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

Teams from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica pulped roughly a tonne of fresh bitter melon and extracted four very promising bioactive components. These four compounds all appear to activate the enzyme AMPK, a protein well known for regulating fuel metabolism and enabling glucose uptake.

"We can now understand at a molecular level why bitter melon works as a treatment for diabetes," said Professor David James, Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at Garvan. "By isolating the compounds we believe to be therapeutic, we can investigate how they work together in our cells."

People with Type 2 diabetes have an impaired ability to convert the sugar in their blood into energy in their muscles. This is partly because they don't produce enough insulin, and partly because their fat and muscle cells don't use insulin effectively, a phenomenon known as 'insulin resistance'.

Exercise activates AMPK in muscle, which in turn mediates the movement of glucose transporters to the cell surface, a very important step in the uptake of glucose from the circulation into tissues in the body. This is a major reason that exercise is recommended as part of the normal treatment program for someone with Type 2 diabetes.

The four compounds isolated in bitter melon perform a very similar action to that of exercise, in that they activate AMPK.

Garvan scientists involved in the project, Drs Jiming Ye and Nigel Turner, both stress that while there are well known diabetes drugs on the market that also activate AMPK, they can have side effects.

"The advantage of bitter melon is that there are no known side effects," said Dr Ye. "Practitioners of Chinese medicine have used it for hundreds of years to good effect."

Garvan has a formal collaborative arrangement with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica. In addition to continuing to work together on the therapeutic potential of bitter melon, we will be exploring other Chinese medicines.

Professor Yang Ye, from the Shanghai Institute and a specialist in natural products chemistry, isolated the different fractions from bitter melon and identified the compounds of interest.

"Bitter melon was described as "bitter in taste, non-toxic, expelling evil heat, relieving fatigue and illuminating" in the famous Compendium of Materia Medica by Li Shizhen (1518-1593), one of the greatest physicians, pharmacologists and naturalists in China's history," said Professor Ye. "It is interesting, now that we have the technology, to analyse why it has been so effective."

"Some of the compounds we have identified are completely novel. We have elucidated the molecular structures of these compounds and will be working with our colleagues at Garvan to decipher their actions at a molecular level. We assume it's working through a novel pathway inside cells, and finding that pathway is going to be very interesting."

The results are published online March 27 in the international journal Chemistry & Biology.

Home remedy to cure your diabetes once and for all

By Anne Johnson

Are you one amongst those who’s slacking the rope between too little sugar and too much sugar in the bloodstream? Do you often wonder if there could be a natural treatment for diabetes?

Well, you’re not alone. There are millions across the globe who are suffering from diabetes and are forced to pop lifelong pills or take insulin injections to remain stable. However, these medical treatments can only manage diabetes and not cure it.

That being said, let’s quickly take a dig at how you can cure diabetes with food. And you don’t necessarily need to eat that food! Bitter gourd (or bitter melon) water/juice: Nature cure for diabetes

Soak your feet in bitter gourd water/juice everyday for about a month and say goodbye to diabetes

For all those who find it difficult to cure diabetes with food and lifestyle changes or are having a hard time administering medicines, herbs and injections, should opt for this natural treatment for diabetes.

So, without wasting any time further, let’s see how soaking your feet in bitter gourd water/juice can make a difference in your lives:

Materials Required:

• Bitter gourd (also called bitter melon)
• Blender to coarse-grind bitter gourd
• A tub to soak feet

Step 1: Cut 6-8 fresh bitter gourds into medium sized pieces.

Step 2: Place in blender, add some water and coarse-grind.

Step 3: Transfer the ground bitter gourd content into a medium-sized tub.

Step 4: Then, soak your feet in the tub containing bitter gourd water or juice. Add water as required so that the soles of the feet are totally submerged.

Step 5: Now, move your feet around slowly in bitter gourd water/juice for about 25 minutes.

After a certain length of time, you will notice your tongue turn bitter. While some people experience the bitterness reaching the tongue within 10-15 minutes, others take as long as 30 minutes.

Step 6: As soon as you taste the bitterness on your tongue, remove your feet from the tub and wash up with plain clean water.

Repeat this procedure everyday for about a month.

For a long time diabetics have been well-advised to drink bitter gourd juice but most people find it difficult to do this owing to the bitterness of the concoction. But soaking the feet in the juice solves this problem. There’s nothing bitter to swallow. Just sit back and read a book while you soak your feet. The good bitterness of bitter melon is absorbed by the body via the pores in the soles of the feet. In about a month you should be free of diabetes. What makes this home remedy for diabetes so unique?

Unlike other treatments that do no good to a diabetic person, this home remedy is a sure-shot way to treat and cure diabetes. Not only it’s natural but it’s inexpensive as well. Moreover, since it’s a natural treatment for diabetes, it does not have any side effect.

So, all you need is a handful of bitter gourds and you can cure this dangerous disease effortlessly.

Things to know

Certain things you should take care of while practicing this nature cure for diabetes:

• Eat healthy
• Do physical exercise
• Abstain from sugar
• Replace sweets with fruits or honey

So, what are you waiting for? Switch to this natural treatment for diabetes and get rid of this life-taking disease forever!

Bitter melon tops herbal remedies for diabetes

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor

Researchers have identified functional foods and phytonutrients that could be effectively used to manage diabetes.Top on the list, according to the report published in the book entitled, “Food as Medicine: Functional Food Plants of Africa,” and journal Current Pharmacology Reports, are: bitter melon; Aloe vera; bitter kola; bitter leaf; clove oil; coconut oil; garlic; ginger; black pepper (utazi in Ibo); guava leaves; velvet beans; bush mango; onion; okra; plantain; scent leaf; soursop; soybeans; tea leaves; and turmeric.

Commonly called bitter melon, bitter gourd, African cucumber or balsam pear, Momordica charantia belongs to the plant family Cucurbitaceae. In Nigeria, bitter melon is called ndakdi in Dera; dagdaggi in Fula-Fulfulde; hashinashiap in Goemai; daddagu in Hausa; iliahia in Igala; akban ndene in Igbo (Ibuzo in Delta State); dagdagoo in Kanuri; akara aj, ejinrin nla, ejinrin weeri, ejirin-weewe or igbole aja in Yoruba.

Black pepper (Gongronema latifolium) is known by the Ikales of Ondo State of Nigeria as Iteji. The Ibos call the plant Utazi; the Efik/ Ibibio call it Utasi while the Yorubas call it Arokeke.

Botanically called Vernonia amygdalina, bitter leaf is of the plant family Compositae. It is called Ewuro in Yoruba and Onugbu in Ibo.Botanically called Ocimum gratissimum, scent leaf or basil belongs to the mint family Lameacea. It is called Effirin in Yoruba and Nchuanwu or Arigbe in Ibo.

The author of “Food as Medicine: Functional Food Plants of Africa” and professor of pharmacognosy, Maurice Iwu, said his team of researchers at the International Centre for Ethomedicine and Drug Development (InterCEDD), Nsukka, Enugu State, has outlined a select list of major herbs or food plants that are used as nutritional supplements in the management of diabetes and/or its complications.

Iwu noted: “…Naturally occurring phenolic compounds that are distributed widely in plants such as flavonoids, procyanidins, and catechins have been shown to be responsible for the anti-diabetic activities of many edible vegetables and fruits. They constitute an important component of human diet… “Flavonoids and procyanidins are capable of improving, stabilizing, and sustaining insulin secretion, pancreatic islets, and pancreatic cell activities…”

Bitter melon

A study published in journal Current Pharmacology Reports has established that besides diabetes, bitter melon is effective in treating other chronic diseases such as cancer and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The study is titled “Bitter Melon as a Therapy for Diabetes, Inflammation, and Cancer: a Panacea?” The researchers noted: “Over the last few decades, multiple well-structured scientific studies have been performed to study the effects of bitter melon in various diseases. Some of the properties for which bitter melon has been studied include: antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-HIV, anthelmintic, hypotensive, anti-obesity, immuno-modulatory, antihyperlipidemic, hepato-protective, and neuro-protective activities. This review attempts to summarize the various literature findings regarding medicinal properties of bitter melon. With such strong scientific support on so many medicinal claims, bitter melon comes close to being considered a panacea.”

According to Food as Medicine: Functional Food Plants of Africa published 2017 by CRC Press, “…Dietary use of bitter melon or its juice decreases blood glucose levels, increases High Density Lipo-protein (HDL)/good cholesterol, and decreases triglyceride levels, thus exhibiting antiatherogenic qualities. Extract of bitter melon in supplement form has been widely used as a traditional medicine for diabetic patients. When administered alone, it has a modest hypoglycemic effect at doses of at least 2000 mg/day. This botanical supplement enhances the cellular uptake of glucose and promotes insulin release, potentiating its effect, and in animal studies has been shown to increase the number of insulin-producing beta cells in diabetic animals. Bitter melon has also been found to reduce adiposity and oxidative stress in addition to reducing blood triglycerides and Low Density Lipo-proteins (LDL)/bad cholesterol.”

Bitter leaf

The major activities found in many laboratory and clinical studies on Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) include antimalarial, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antihypercholesterolemic, anthelmintic, uterine contractility, immune boosting in HIV infections, and anti-inflammatory properties. Vernonia holds tremendous promise for development into a nutraceutical against diabetes and malaria. It has been found that a decoction containing a mixture of bitter leaf, scent leaf (Ocimum gratissimum) and West African black pepper (Gongronema latifolium, Utazi in Ibo) was found to be superior in antidiabetic activity to any one, or blends of only two, of the three plants. A proprietary product by InterCEDD Health Products and Neimeth Pharmaceuticals called Physogen Plus contains the three vegetables and bitter kola (Garcinia kola).

Black pepper

Utazi is valued as an ingredient for the preparation of bitters. It is a major constituent of the popular antidiabetic tea, Physogen, produced by InterCEDD and marketed by Neimeth Pharmaceuticals and InterCEDD Health Products (IHP). Several laboratory studies have demonstrated the possible antidiabetic activity of Utazi. Different alcoholic leaf extracts showed promising hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic activities in a dose-dependent way on normal and alloxan-induced or streptozotocin-induced diabetic rabbits. An ethanolic leaf extract possessed significant anti-lipid peroxidative activities. In a small clinical trial, the blood glucose concentration of healthy humans was determined after consumption of leaves and showed a significant reduction in blood glucose level. Leaf extracts also showed antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepato-protective, anti-plasmodial, anti-asthmatic, anti-sickling, antiulcer, analgesic, antipyretic, gastrointestinal relaxing, laxative, and stomachic activities.

Bitter kola

According to Food as Medicine: Functional Food Plants of Africa, kolaviron, the mixture of bioflavonoids, benzophenones, and chromanols, and related phenolic compounds in Garcinia kola possess strong antioxidant activities. Also, a study published in African Health Sciences has established the antidiabetic effect of kolaviron; a biflavonoid complex isolated from Garcinia kola seeds, in Wistar rats.

The researchers led by O. A. Adaramoye established the hypoglycaemic effect of kolaviron (KV), (biflavonoid from Garcinia kola) in streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats.They evaluated the possible protective effects of KV on cardiac, renal and hepatic tissues of STZ-diabetic rats.

The study consisted of four groups of six rats each. Groups one and two contained non-diabetic and untreated-diabetic rats, respectively. Groups three and four were made up of KV- and glibenclamide (GB) – treated diabetic rats, respectively.

The researchers found that the STZ-intoxication caused a significant increase in the relative weight of liver in diabetic rats. STZ-diabetic rats had significant increase in the levels of fasting blood glucose (FBG), á-amylase and HbA1c. A marked and significant increase in the levels of cardiac, renal and liver marker indices such as serum creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, creatinine, urea and alanine aminotransferase were observed in untreated diabetic rats. Also, untreated diabetic rats had significantly elevated urinary glucose and protein and, lowered creatinine clearance. In KV- and GB- treated groups, the levels of FBG, á-amylase and HbA1c were significantly reduced, while treatment with KV significantly attenuated the cardiac, renal and liver marker indices.They concluded that KV offered significant antidiabetic and tissues protective effects in the rats.

Bush mango

Botanically called Irvingia gabonensis, Bush mango is known as Ogbono in Ibo language. Seeds of Irvingia species are used in West Africa culinary arts as mucilaginous soup thickener for the preparation of Ogbono soup. The aqueous extract has been found by laboratory studies and clinical outcome studies to have a beneficial effect on the management of type 2 diabetes. In high-fat-diet rats, the mucilage was effective in preventing increase in plasma lipid levels, improving the antioxidant enzyme levels, exerting beneficial effects on lipid metabolism, and avoiding large increase in food intake and body weight. This is due to the effect the mucilage exerts on intestinal peptide involved in the regulation of food intake, and also their gel-forming and good antioxidant properties. A proprietary formulation of Irvingia extract, Evira-IHP is marketed by IHP as an anti-obesity supplement.

Scent leaf

Ocimum species are used as vegetable spices in soups and in traditional medicine for the treatment of various diseases. Ocimum gratissimum is popularly used to treat diabetes mellitus. The hypoglycemic activity of this medicinal species has been confirmed by several in vivo studies. The plant contains several volatile components, including the hypoglycemic phenolic substances such as L-caftaric acid, L-chicoric acid, eugenyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside, and vicenin. The activity of Ocimum gratissimum decoction fractions has been shown by laboratory studies to be mainly due to the presence of chicoric acid. A hypoglycemic tetracyclic triterpene has also been isolated from the related Ocimum sanctum from India. Scent leaf is a major ingredient in the anti-diabetic tea, Vernonia-Ocimum, marketed by IHP.


Researchers have shown that a meal of soursop could be the cure for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and diarrhoea.Commonly called Soursop, Annona muricata is a plant, which belongs to the family Anonaceae.

Soursop is a medicinal plant that has been used as a natural remedy for a variety of illnesses. Several studies by different researchers demonstrated that the bark as well as the leaves has anti-hypertensive, vasodilator, anti-spasmodic (smooth muscle relaxant) and cardio depressant (slowing of heart rate) activities in animals.

Researchers have re-verified Soursop leaf’s hypotensive (reduce blood pressure) properties in rats. Other properties and actions of Soursop documented by traditional uses include its use as anti-cancerous, anti-diabetes, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-malarial, anti-mutagenic (cellular protector), emetic (induce vomiting), anti-convulsant, sedative (induces sleep), insecticidal and uterine stimulant (helps in childbirth). It is also believed to be a digestive stimulant, antiviral, cardio tonic (tones, balances and strengthens the heart), febrifuge (cures fever), nerviness (balances/calms the nerves), vermifuge (expels worms), pediculocide (kills lice) and as an analgesic (pain-reliever).

Researchers have confirmed the anti-viral activity of ethanolic extracts of Soursop against Herpes simplex virus. Extracts of Soursop have been shown to have anti-parasitic, anti-rheumatic, astringent, anti-Ieishmanial and cytotoxic effects. Soursop has also been shown to be effective against Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) cancer cell lines. Extracts of Soursop were also shown to be effective against the cancer cell line U973, and hematoma cell lines in-vitro. Extracts were also shown to be lethal to the fresh water mollusk, Biomphalaria glabrata, which act as a host for the parasitic worm Schistosoma mansoni. But recent studies have described how extracts of Soursop reduces blood sugar in diabetics by improving insulin production, Improves cardiovascular health by reducing blood fats, treat drug resistant cancer, stop diarrhoea in children, among others.

Onion and garlic

Oral administration of onion (Allium cepa) and garlic (Allium sativum) to alloxan-induced diabetic rats for 30 days ameliorated hyperglycemia, reversed weight loss and depletion of liver glycogen. The anti-diabetic bioactive principles of Allium cepa and Allium sativum were S-methylcysteinesulfoxide (SMCS) and S-allylcysteinesulfoxide (SACS) respectively.

The studies showed that SMCS and SACS exerted their anti-diabetic properties by stimulating insulin secretion as well as compete with insulin for insulin inactivating sites in the liver. Specifically, SACS inhibited gluconeogenesis in the liver. In addition, SACS from Allium sativum impeded lipid peroxidation due to its antioxidant and secretagogue actions. The capacities of Allium cepa and Allium sativum to alleviate Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in the experimental rats were comparable with diabetic rats treated with glibenclamide and insulin. The study also noted that SMCS and SACS caused significant increase in the biosynthesis of cholesterol from acetate in the liver, which was an indication of low capacities of allium products to protect the rats against risk factors associated with DM.

Aloe vera/Aloe barbedensis

A 1.0 μg of five phytosterols- lophenol, 24-methyl-lophenol, 24-ethyl-lophenol, cycloartanol, and 24-methylene-cycloartanol from Aloe vera exhibited comparable capacities to lower blood glucose levels in Type II diabetic BKS.Cg-m+/+Leprdb/J (db/db) mice following 28 day treatment. The five phytosterols caused significant decrease in blood HbA1c levels by 15 to 18 per cent.

Additionally, severe diabetic mice treated with the five phytosterols did not suffer weight loss because of rapid excretion of glucose in the urine. The findings suggested that phytosterols derived from Aloe vera gel have a long-term blood glucose lowering effect, which could be applied as agents of glycemic control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Studies showed that phytosterols stimulate the biosynthesis and/or release of insulin as well as alter the activity of carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes.


Turmeric, an Asian spice cultivated in Nigeria and found in many curries, has a long history of use in reducing inflammation, healing wounds and relieving pain, preventing diabetes, heart failure, and inducing weight loss.The local spice, turmeric, has entered into herbal regimen for weight loss programme. A recent United States (U.S.) study suggests that turmeric may be a new way to spice up weight loss routine.

Curcumin is a bioactive component in curry and turmeric that has been consumed daily in Asian countries for centuries without reported toxic effects.Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family, Zingaberaceae. In traditional medicine, turmeric has been used for its medicinal properties for various indications and through different routes of administration, including topically, orally, and by inhalation.

In Nigeria, it is called atale pupa in Yoruba; gangamau in Hausa; nwandumo in Ebonyi; ohu boboch in Enugu (Nkanu East); gigir in Tiv; magina in Kaduna; turi in Niger State; onjonigho in Cross River (Meo tribe).

Turmeric, also known as curcuma, produces a root that is used to produce the vibrant yellow spice used as a culinary spice so often used in curry dishes.Though native to India and parts of Asia, and is a relative of cardamom and ginger, turmeric has been domesticated in Nigeria.

Today’s herbalists and naturopaths consider turmeric to be one of nature’s most potent anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. They say turmeric may help treat a variety of conditions related to inflammation and antioxidant damage, including cataracts, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. It is also used to treatment of scabies and digestive disorders, promote wound healing, and strengthen the immune system.

According to a pharmacognocist at the College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL), Idi-Araba, Prof. Olukemi A. Odukoya, “Turmeric helps detoxify the body, and protects the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol, toxic chemicals, and even some pharmaceutical drugs. Turmeric stimulates the production of bile, which is needed to digest fat. Turmeric also guards the stomach by killing salmonella bacteria and protozoa that can cause diarrhoea.”


Plantain (Musa paradisiaca) is cultivated in many tropical countries of the world, and it is known to be rich in iron, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and serotonin.In folklore medicine, unripe plantain is useful in the management of diabetes, treatment of anemia, and liver disorders (independent of diabetes).

A study published in Interventional Medicine and Applied Science indicated the potential of unripe plantain in the management of renal and liver complications arising from diabetes mellitus.


Various studies on Okra (Abelmoscus esculentus) showed that the extract has a hypoglycemic effect that helps decrease blood glucose level. Its properties can be a useful remedy to manage diabetes mellitus. In addition, it leads to inhibition of cholesterol absorption and subsequently decreases the level of lipid and fat in the blood.

A study published in Iran Journal of Medical Sciences concluded: “Based on the positive effects of Okra on reducing blood sugar level, the widespread use of this plant is recommended.”

According to the book, “Food as Medicine: Functional Food Plants of Africa,” okra is valued in the folk management of duodenal ulcers and diabetes. The glycosylated molecules found in okra mucilage have been related to the inhibition of adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric mucosa. Such molecules could also contribute to glucose entrapment and alpha-glucosidase inhibition that might be advantageous in the management of diabetes.


Soybean therapy in diabetic individuals depends on the type of diabetes and other factors such as lifestyle and metabolic needs of the patients. Soybean protein has a role in diabetes because of its content in glycine and arginine, which tend to reduce blood insulin levels. Soybean fibre may be useful because of its insulin-moderated effect.

Soybean diet may be a good option in type 2 diabetes individuals due to its effect on hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis and obesity, which are very common diseases in diabetic patients.

In addition, substituting animal protein for soybean or other vegetable protein may also decrease renal hyperfiltration, proteinuria, and renal acid load and therefore reduces the risk of renal disease in type 2 diabetes.

It is generally accepted that a high fibre diet, particularly soluble fiber, is useful to control plasma glucose concentration in diabetics. In short-and long-term experiments it has been reported an improvement in blood glucose attributed to fibre intake from soybeans. The mechanisms to improve glycemic control during dietary fibre intake seem to be due to the effects of slowing carbohydrate absorption, so that dietary fibre reduces or delays the absorption of carbohydrates. It also increases faecal excretion of bile acid and therefore may cause a low absorption of fat.

Velvet beans

Velvet beans or cowhage (Mucuna pruriens) is called Werepe in Yoruba and Agabaloko or Agbala in Ibo. Results of study published in Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine showed that the administration of 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 100 mg/kg of the crude ethanolic extract of Mucuna pruriens seeds to alloxan-induced diabetic rats (plasma glucose greater than 450 mg/dL) resulted in 18.6 per cent, 24.9 per cent, 30.8 per cent, 41.4 per cent, 49.7 per cent, 53.1 per cent and 55.4 per cent reduction, respectively in blood glucose level of the diabetic rats after eight hour of treatment while the administration of glibenclamide (5 mg/kg/day) resulted in 59.7 per cent reduction. Chronic administration of the extract resulted in a significant dose dependent reduction in the blood glucose level. It also showed that the anti-diabetic activity of Mucuna pruriens seeds resides in the methanolic and ethanolic fractions of the extract. Acute toxicity studies indicated that the extract was relatively safe at low doses; although some adverse reactions were observed at higher doses (eight-32 mg/kg body weight), no death was recorded. Furthermore, oral administration of Mucuna pruriens seed extract also significantly reduced the weight loss associated with diabetes.

The study clearly supports the traditional use of Mucuna pruriens for the treatment of diabetes and indicates that the plant could be a good source of potent anti-diabetic drug.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Karela [Bitter Gourd] Juice

By Nisha Baghadia

Though it is bitter to taste, the juice of Karela (Bitter Gourd) is full of essential nutrients. Not only is it extremely nutritional, it is, in fact, considered a miraculous health drink. Karela juice has innumerable health benefits. It is an essential tonic for those who are diabetic. Not only patients, but in fact, everyone can get some or the other benefit out of this juice.

Karela is profoundly grown in Asian and sub-tropical climates. It makes an essential detoxifier and skin cleanser. Regular intake of this bitter herb helps boost the immune system while removing all unnecessary toxins. Bitter guard is considered a fruit as it has seeds. However, the most common usage of this fruit is as a vegetable, often used for cooking.

Karela Juice Benefits for Health:

1. Diabetes:

Bitter gourd has multiple health benefits. It is mostly consumed for triggering the blood sugar level. Diabetes is a common ailment that affects many people today. Regular intake of bitter gourd juice helps prevent the rise of blood sugar levels. It also helps cure insulin resistance without taking any external medication.

2. Cancer:

If not detected at the right stage, cancer is almost an incurable disease. Karela juice benefits to prevent some particular types of cancer. It also helps trigger leukemic cancer cells effectively.

3. Antioxidant:

Karela juice is an excellent natural antioxidant. Antioxidant is essential for removing toxins from the body. At the same time, it helps to rejuvenate the body cells and prevents free radicals. The juice of karela is the finest tonic for those who are addicted to smoking. Taking karela juice helps to cleanse the nicotine layer from the system.

4. Asthma:

Asthma patients can highly benefit by having karela juice. It helps cure chronic cough and breathing problems by removing the sputum that accumulates within the lungs and the respiratory tract.

5. Skin:

Karela juice is excellent for the skin. It helps to remove the fine lines from the upper surface of the skin. Having this juice will also prevent premature ageing. It helps cure and purify blood from within the system.

6. Digestion:

Karela juice enhances digestion. It increases the production of enzymes that aid the digestion process.


Regular consumption of karela juice is best for triggering the condition of an HIV patient. Studies conducted on natural antidotes of HIV/AIDS establish the goodness of bitter guard in preventing further damaging of the skin cells.

8. Weight loss:

Bitter gourd is excellent for weight loss. Karela benefits to weight loss is attributed to its high fibre and low carbohydrates and calories content. It makes an ideal diet for those who are on a weight loss program.

9. Immune system:

Karela juice helps boost the immune system.

10. Constipation:

Regular consumption of karela helps to cure constipation.

Nutrition Value of Karela Juice

Karela is an excellent source of all essential nutrients. The amazing health benefits of karela are all attributed by its excellent nutrient content. Be it the vitamins or the minerals, karela has it all. Regular consumption of karela juice fulfills the deficiency of major nutrients that we require on a daily basis. It is a rich store of all water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, B1, B2, and B3. It also contains minerals like zinc, alkaloids, manganese, and folic acid. The vitamins and minerals in bitter guard are much higher when compared to other green vegetables that are popularly available.

Karela Juice Nutrition Chart at a Glance

Nutritional Value Per 100gm of Karela juice

• Energy-17 kcal
• Carbohydrate-3.70 gm
• Protein-1gm
• Total fat-0.17gm
• Cholesterol-0mg
• Dietary fiber-2.80mg
• Niacin-0.400mg
• Folate-72µg
• Pyridoxine-0.043mg
• Riboflavin-0.040mg
• Thiamin-0.040mg
• Sodium-5 mg
• Potassium-296 mg
• Calcium-19mg
• Iron-0.43mg
• Copper-0.034mg
• Zinc-0.80mg

So these were the many benefits of karela juice. If you haven’t tried it yet, we surely recommend you begin now!!

Bitter melon or karela good for diabetes

By Losalini Vuki

PREM Shankar recalls how he had to accompany his dad to the market in the wee hours of the morning (2am or 3am) just so they could have a space to sit and vend.

He was five at that time.

Today, the 57-year-old with five tables at the Suva Municipal Market said at that time, everything was cheap and mini markets didn't exist.

"If you travel now from Suva to Nausori, you can see them at almost every corner of the road," said Mr Shankar.

"To start any business you just need to do it the right way and you must know what you are selling. For instance if you put so many greens such as cabbages, or tubua or moca on your table and you can't sell it in one day, they will easily wilt and dry out and sometimes turn black. But if you sell cucumbers, ginger or carrots, they can last you a week. So it's important you know what you're selling and it's also important to know and serve your customers."

Shankar sells carrots, cucumbers, chillies, ginger, eggplants, french and long beans and our in-season market watch topic for this week, bitter melon (karela).

Out of the 20 trucks that come to sell at the market, Shankar said if one truck sold one bag of bitter melon (karela), the prices would definitely be high. "These cross breed karelas are bought from Dawasamu in Tailevu," he said. "They come in the onion bags and are priced at $20, $40, $50 and even $60.

If the farmers brought only a few bags then the prices would be high but if they bring 1 — 12 bags then the price would be low. I sell them for $3 to $5 a kilo."

He added while anything bitter was good for the health, karela was a type of vegetable that had about more than five varieties and was very good for the health.

"Some use it for curry and most of them use it for medicinal purposes," said Shankar.

"Diabetes is a major problem in Fiji and people should try this. If you have the matured ones, take out the seeds and blend the whole vegetable but if it's the young ones, you can blend the whole thing and some put it in the fridge. Every morning, take one table spoon — your diabetic level will be normal."

About bitter melon or karela

• Bitter melon is a plant. The fruit and seeds are used to make medicine.

• Bitter melon is used for various stomach and intestinal disorders including gastrointestinal (GI) upset, ulcers, colitis, constipation, and intestinal worms. It is also used for diabetes, kidney stones, fever, a skin condition called psoriasis, and liver disease, to start menstruation and as supportive treatment for people with HIV/AIDS.

Topically, bitter melon is used for deep skin infections (abscesses) and wounds.

• Bitter melon is used as a vegetable in India and other Asian countries and as an ingredient in some kinds of curries.

Bitter Melon Health Benefits: Can Bitter Melon Help Treat Diabetes?

(Reader's Digest Editors from the book Doctors' Favorite Natural Remedies)

Thinking of taking bitter melon to help treat diabetes? Read this first.

In tropical areas from China, Asia, and Africa to the Caribbean and South America, bitter melon is both a food and a medicine. Unripe, its fruit resembles a warty, green cucumber that gradually turns orange with bright red edible seeds as it matures. Despite an exceedingly bitter taste, the fruits and sometimes the leaves are widely used in a variety of ethnic dishes. Bitter melon is a major constituent of the Okinawan diet and, some say, is key to the renowned longevity of the Japanese island people. Modern research has largely focused on its potential for treating diabetes.

How Bitter Melon Works

Although the human evidence is not yet strong, laboratory studies show that bitter melon has a hypoglycemic (blood glucose-lowering) action, and helps to control insulin levels. The constituents thought to be responsible for this action are charantin, plus alkaloids and peptides that mimic insulin. They may also trigger the production of a protein that encourages glucose uptake in the body.

In addition, charantin appears to stimulate the growth of pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys beta cells; in other types of diabetes the functioning of beta cells is impaired.

Laboratory studies support other traditional uses of bitter melon, suggesting that different constituents have antiviral and antibacterial properties that might help to treat disorders including salmonella and E. coli infections, herpes and HIV viruses, malaria, and parasitic worms. An extract of bitter melon proteins is claimed to inhibit prostate tumor growth and a number of in vitro studies suggest it may have potential for combating other cancers and leukemia.

How to Use Bitter Melon

Traditionally bitter melon is taken as a fresh juice, decoction, or tincture. Concentrated fruit, seed, and whole herb extracts are also available as tablets, capsules, or powders. Follow label instructions or take as professionally prescribed.

Safety First

Take care if taking bitter melon with blood glucose–lowering medications as it can enhance their effect. It has a weak uterine stimulant activity so must not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Bitter melon should not be taken by people with glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) deficiency (a genetic condition most common in people from the Mediterranean and Middle East) due to a risk of hemolytic anemia.

Where to Find Bitter Melon

The fresh fruit is available in some supermarkets and Asian stores. Bitter melon supplements are available in health food stores or from a qualified herbalist.

Amazing Benefits of Bitter Gourd For Health, Skin and Hair That You Didn’t Know!

By Prajwal TS (StylEnrich)

Have you come across the term MomordicaCharantia? Or something like Karela? Don’t be intimidated. They are just few of the names for Bitter Melon, that is generally known as Bitter Squash or Bitter Gourd in English. The very thing that strikes you when you hear these terms is the bitterness they are associated with. They are light or dark green based on the areas they are cultivated. Though this vegetable has got a very bitter taste, it is enriched with a lot of essential vitamins and useful antioxidants.

The Bitter gourd is known as Kakaraya in Telugu, Pavakka in Malayalam, Pavakkai in Tamil, Hagalkai in Kannada, Karle in Marathi, Korola in Bengali, and Karela in both Hindi and Gujarati. Just like the diversity in names, the benefits of bitter gourd are diverse and various as well. This vegetable can be consumed in many ways. You can make various recipes out of it. You can make pickle out of it or you can even make juice out of it. I know your face gets twisted just thinking about eating or drinking Bitter Gourd. But, do you know how very helpful it can be? I’ll list the benefits of bitter gourd down. Read on!

Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd

1. Respiratory Problems

The Bitter Gourds are a great remedy if you are looking to cure respiratory disorders such as cold, cough, asthma and many more. You can make a paste using bitter gourd leaves, with the tulsi leaves paste and mix it with honey. Consume this recipe every morning and you will be keeping away a lot of respiratory problems.

2. It’s Good For Liver

Liver is one of the most essential organs of our body. These days, liver disorders are on the rise. You can do your bit in keeping your liver healthy by using bitter gourd. Make a glass of bitter gourd juice. Drink the juice everyday to avoid liver problems and even heal liver problems. Continue consuming this juice on a regular basis and you can see the results in two weeks.

3. Keeps Your Immune System Healthy

Immunity system in a body must be really strong. It is because the immunity system is what fights against the foreign bodies in your blood stream and protects you from facing harm. If your immunity system is strong, you can stay void of health disorders that foreign bodies carry. Boil the bitter gourd vegetables or leaves in water until the nutrients are extracted. Drink the water frequently everyday and your immune system will gain the ability to fight against many infections.

4. A Good Fighter Against Acne

Pimples or acne is one skin problem that bothers most of us a lot. Besides, the marks they leave behind are quite embarrassing. However, by consuming bitter gourd, you can effectively get rid of this problem. Bitter gourd also fights against blemishes as well as intense skin infections. The vegetable is also helpful in healing blood disorders such as scabies, blood boils, psoriasis, itching, ring worm and many other fungal problems. The free radicals present in bitter gourd is also helpful in anti ageing. Drink the bitter gourd juice blended with lemon with an empty stomach everyday for around six months and you will see results.

5. Good For Diabetic People

Are you suffering from Diabetes? Then try this! Bitter gourd juice helps you in overcoming the Type 2 Diabetes. Bitter gourd has been included as a vital ingredient in both Indian and Chinese medicine for a long period now but it is the recent studies that has proved bitter gourd for diabetes is not just a folk lore. You must know that the Type 2 Diabetes occurs partially when your cell is unable to absorb the sugar content present in the blood that is either a result of lack of insulin or resistance towards insulin. Whatever the case maybe, cells will not be able to absorb sugar content since there is no effectiveness in the produced insulin.

Sugar absorption happens when the AMP activated protein kinase gets activated in your cells. Bitter melon can effectively activate the kinases and as a result the sugar absorption in cells increases. This will in turn get diabetes under regulation. You can prepare green juice if you are diabetic. The recipe is quite simple. Green apples, celery, cucumbers, green capsicum and bitter gourd must be made into the juice. Bitter gourd has got some chemicals which are like insulin and that will help in decreasing the sugar levels in your blood.

6. Constipation Can Be Cured

Constipation is directly related to our digestive system and we know how agonizing it is. Bitter gourd aids in easy and smooth digestion since it had got fibrous properties. As a result, the food gets digested well, and the waste gets excreted from the body. This will aid in curing indigestion as well as constipation issues.

7. Bladder and Kidney Are Helped As Well

Kidney and bladder take care of the purification of blood. Kidney and bladder stones can be very excruciating if occurred. Bitter gourd aids in having healthy kidney and bladder. Besides, they are a great cure for kidney stones or bladder stones. 8. Heart Related Problems

These days, heart related disorders are on the rise and they are one of the important causes of deaths worldwide. Maintaining good health of the heart is the need of the hour. Bitter gourd is extremely good for your heart in ways unknown to you. It can help in reducing the levels of bad cholesterol that may have clogged up in the walls of your artery. This will decrease the risks of getting a heart attack. Besides, bitter gourd is also said to decrease the sugar levels in your blood which aids in keeping your heart’s health well. 9. Cancer

Cancer, too, is one among the top causes for death worldwide every year. Though there hasn’t been a concrete solution to this demonic disease, there are ways in which they can be prevented. Would you believe if I said bitter gourd is one such way? Well, you’ve got to! Bitter melon has the ability of avoiding the multiplication of cancer cells. 10. Effective in Weight Loss

Obesity is another health problem that causes frustration and pain among many. Losing weight becomes a primary concern for those who are suffering from the problem. Bitter gourd has got antioxidants that are effective in flushing out your digestive system. This can in turn improvise your digestive system and metabolism, thereby aiding you in putting off your weight quickly. Two more important factors which help you in losing weight are the components in the vegetable that makes you feel full, and the calorie control property. Control in the calories happens since vegetables are having less calories which will make you consume more of them. The component that is filling in bitter gourd is water. We all know that water is a great suppressant when you feel hungry. The pods in bitter gourd have got around 85 percent of water which will do the job for you!

11. Naturally Energizes You

If you consume the bitter melon juice regularly, you will see improvement in your stamina. Your energy levels improve as an individual. Besides, bitter gourd is good at improvising your sleep patterns as well.

12. Cleanses Your Blood

Bitter gourd has got antioxidant and antimicrobial properties which will help you in treating skin disorders, blood related problems, and cleanse toxins out of your blood and help in its purification. Further, bitter gourd juice also enhances blood circulation in the whole of your body. It aids in curing problems such as itching as a result of toxaemia, acne, rashes, blood boils and even avoids the growth of cancer cells in your body.

13. Skin Health Advantages With Bitter Gourd

The entire thing about how your skin appears is mostly dependent on what you eat, drink, or send inside the body. To put it in a better way, gaining right amounts of nutrition is the requisite for a damage free, healthy skin. Since bitter gourd is a blood purifier by nature, bitter gourd aids in enhancing the look of the skin on your body. Bitter gourd has got these benefits for skin health!

14. Avoids Skin Disorders

If you consume bitter gourd on a regular basis, you are basically helping your skin to keep glowing and avoid blemishes. As mentioned earlier, the properties of blood purification helps avoid acne from surfacing on your skin.

15. Fights Skin Infection

Bitter gourd helps in treating many skin infections or skin diseases such as eczema or rashes. If you drink bitter gourd juice regularly, you will be fighting back a lot of fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or ringworm.

16. Keeps You From Looking Aged

Bitter gourd has got vitamin C, and that is a strong antioxidant. Since it indulges in fighting as well as eliminating dangerous free radicals, bitter gourd aids in avoiding wrinkles on your skin by reducing the pace of ageing process in your body. Besides, bitter gourd also avoids skin from getting damaged due to ultraviolet rays.

17. Has Got Healing Properties

Bitter melon helps in regulating the clotting and blood flow, which will only result in wounds healing sooner, avoiding further problems and infections.

18. Hair Health Advantages With Bitter Melon

Bitter melon is a very good natural remedy if you want good and healthy hair. Though it is already doing a lot of good to your health and skin, it doesn’t just stop there. Bitter melon juice is very effective when it comes to treating hair related problems. Besides, it also boosts longevity. Here are the ways in which bitter gourd is helpful for your hair!

19. Shiny and Silky Hair

Silky shiny hair is a dream of many. If you want to give a natural shine and smoothness to your hair, you could blend a bowl of bitter melon juice along with yoghurt and use it for application on hair. Rinse off after a while. This can potentially make your hair look shiny and silky.

20. Gets Rid of Dandruff

Dandruff is one general problem which many of us face. It is mostly the result of intake of unhealthy food supplements and over exposure to pollution. To get rid of dandruff, you could prepare yourself a hair pack by blending cumin seeds with bitter melon juice. If you use this hair pack frequently, you will eliminate all the dandruff from your head in just a month.

21. Treats Split Ends

Are you troubled due to split ends? Worry not! You could put raw bitter melon extracts onto the split ends and gently comb. This must be done two times in a week to rid yourselves from split ends.

22. Cures Itchy Dry Scalp

To fight the dryness and itchiness of your scalp, you could rub the scalp using a fresh cut piece of bitter melon in circular motions, massaging them. Or you could also prepare yourself a hair pack by blending bitter melon juice either with banana or avocado, and later smear it on the scalp. Do it twice in a week and you will be free from itchy dry scalp.

23. Combats Hair Loss

Bitter melon juice aids in regulating the hair fall, and it does so quite naturally. You just have to blend bitter melon juice along with a spoon of sugar and later use the paste upon the hair to obtain better results.

24. Tangled and Rough Hair Are Eliminated

Do you have tangled rough hair? Just pour a bowl of bitter melon juice on your hair and let it soak for about fifteen minutes. Later wash off the hair. This can help you smoothen the texture of your hair, again making it shiny and soft.

25. Treats Grey Hair

Bitter melon can treat premature hair graying as well. Put some freshly extracted bitter melon juice on the strands of your grey hair. If you do this once in a week, the grey hair growth will be reduced.

26. Treats Oily Hair Too

When you consume more and more oily food, you will only be causing excess oil accumulation in the hair region. Are you one among those with oily hair? To begin with, control the intake of too much oily food. You could put a blend of bitter melon juice as well as vinegar and apple cider to get rid of extra oil from the hair.

Cautions for Usage

Though bitter gourd is a healthy drink, it must taken in only in little quantities each day since the drink might cause abdominal pains and nausea when consumed in large quantities. Pregnant ladies must refrain from drinking excessive bitter melon juice since it had properties that stimulates the uterus, resulting in premature labor agonies. Though it is considered as a good remedy in treatment of diabetes, you must consume this drink upon doctor’s guidance and directions if you are a diabetic patient who’s under medication that has hypoglycemic drugs.

-Few essential tips to follow
• Wash bitter gourd thoroughly with running water always
• Make use of fresh bitter gourd for best of the results
• Always go for bitter melons which are bright, fresh and deeply green in color
• The leaves of bitter gourd must be stored in a dry,cool and a dark place. They can stay fresh in the fridge for a week
• You can marinade bitter gourd using salt to decrease bitterness

I know Bitter gourd is very bitter. Personally, even I never liked Bitter gourd given its taste. However, when I learnt about the amazing benefits of bitter gourd, I thought the better. After all, our health is what matters the most. So what if it is bitter, consume it and avail all the great benefits of bitter gourd has got to give you. Stay sweet, stay healthy!

How Long Does It Take for a Bitter Melon Seed to Sprout?

(San Francisco Gate)

Sometimes called balsam pear, bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is an ornamental tropical vine grown for its spiny fruit and lobed leaves. It is most widely grown as an annual, but it is truly perennial within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. Bitter melon seeds usually sprout within one week of sowing, making them the preferred propagation method. However, they must be cleaned and pretreated to guarantee successful germination.

Gathering Seed

Bitter melon seeds germinate best when sown very fresh. Fortunately, there is no mistaking when bitter melon seeds are ready for sowing because the fruit dries out, splits open and reveals the shiny, crimson seeds against a golden yellow background. Wear gloves when gathering and handling the seeds or fruit because they are toxic if ingested.

Seed Preparation

While beautiful to look at, the red coating covering bitter melon seeds is detrimental to germination and must be partially removed before sowing. Rubbing one side of the seed with a rasp will remove enough of the seed coat to allow germination while limiting damage to the seed. Once scarified, the seeds must be dunked in boiling water for no more than four seconds, then drained on a sheet of paper towel for a few minutes before sowing.


Bitter melon plants put on growth rapidly, so no more than one seed should be sown in each pot to allow adequate room for the roots to spread. Fill 5 inch deep biodegradable starter pots with potting soil, leaving the top 3/4 inch empty. Set the bitter melon seed in the center of the pot, then cover it with a 1/2 inch layer of soil, gently firm it and water deeply to settle it.

Germination Process

High temperatures and adequate moisture hold the key to successfully germinating bitter melon seeds. Position the pots within 3 feet of a west- or south-facing window where they will get direct sunlight during the day. Warm the pots to 85 degrees Fahrenheit using a germination mat and keep the pots covered with a propagation dome or plastic wrap to hold warmth and moisture near the bitter melon seeds. The seeds need constant moisture, but the soil should be allowed to dry out slightly in the top inch between waterings to prevent rot and mildew. The first seedlings may emerge in just four days with most of the seeds germinating around day eight.

Care and Planting

Bitter melon plants are highly frost sensitive and must be grown under warm, sheltered conditions until after the last spring frost. A cold frame or hot bed are ideal, but they can also be grown indoors near a south-facing window. In areas where frost is rare, they can be planted in the ground as soon as the soil warms to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Space the plants roughly 12 inches apart in a sunny, trellised bed with fast-draining, organically rich soil.

How to Prepare Your Own Bitter Melon

By Nadia Haris

Bitter melon is a small, gourd-like melon that is commonly used as a food in Southeast Asia. It is also considered a medicinal food and it is eaten whole and extracted to aid the treatment of diabetes, cholesterol and infections. Bitter melon can be challenging to cook because, as its name suggests, it is has a strong bitter taste. You can prepare this vegetable, which is also known as karela, by lightly frying, boiling, steaming or roasting it.

1. Wash the bitter melons and pat them dry with dish towel. Cut off the short stalks at both ends. Scrape the outer peel of the bitter melon with a paring knife to remove a thin layer of peel. Bitter melon is not typically peeled because the outer skin is edible; however, removing a thin layer of peel helps to reduce the rough outer texture.

2. Cut the bitter melon in half length-wise. Remove the seeds and fibrous core using a teaspoon or a paring knife. The seeds and core are edible and can be cooked along with the bitter melon pieces if desired. 3. Slice the bitter melon halves width-wise into 2-inch thick pieces. Place a frying pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Pour in a tablespoon of canola or olive oil and allow it to heat up until it is lightly simmering.

4. Drop in the bitter melon pieces and allow them to cook. Stir the bitter melon constantly with a wooden spoon as they cook. Continue lightly frying the bitter melon until they are toasted.

5. Place a paper towel onto a plate. Transfer the toasted bitter melon pieces from the frying pan onto the plate. The paper towel absorbs any excess oil in the bitter melon. Add to salads, stews and soups. Things You Will Need

• 4 to 5 bitter melons
• Dish towel
• Cutting board
• Paring knife
• Frying pan
• Canola or olive oil
• Spatula or wooden spoon
• Paper towel
• Plate

◘ Tip

• Bitter melon can also be prepared by boiling, steaming or by baking in an oven.
• It can also be pickled, curried or stuffed with minced meat, herbs or rice.
• You can reduce the bitterness of this vegetable by blanching it in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or by salting it and letting it rest for 10 minutes before cooking.
• The Hindi term for bitter melon is karela. It is also known as bitter gourd, kugua and wild cucumber.

◘ Warning

• If you have diabetes, it is important to take your prescribed medication as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. Eating bitter melon and other beneficial foods can help keep you healthy, but cannot replace medical treatment.

Difference Between Indian Bitter Gourd & Chinese Bitter Gourd

(San Francisco Gate)

Mormordica charantia, or bitter gourd, is closely related to the cucumber and looks a bit like a large, warty zucchini. Usually called bitter melon in the United States, this fruit lives up to its common name. The bitter flavor is foreign to most American palates and takes getting used to, but it adds a zesty bite to many cooked dishes. Grown as an annual vine in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, bitter melon is relatively pest-free and simple to grow with patience and proper support.

Chinese vs. Indian Melon

Chinese and Indian gourds have the same hardiness, cultural requirements and bitter flavor (especially to those not familiar with the bitter melon taste). The only real difference is the appearance of the fruit. Indian bitter gourds are narrower than the Chinese type, rather like a zucchini. They have irregular ridges and triangle-shaped "teeth" all over the surface of the skin, along with slightly ragged ridges. Indian bitter gourds may be white or green. Chinese gourds can grow more than 11 inches long and have blunt ends. Broader than Indian gourds, they have light green skins dotted liberally with wart-like bumps. Both types have thick skins and white seeds.


Mormordica charantia germinates easily from seed. Seeds may be difficult to find locally if no Asian markets are nearby, but you can buy them via mail order or harvest your own from the mature gourd, which turns bright orange as the fruit ages. Given enough time, the gourd will split open and the outer part curls up, revealing seeds covered in dark red pulp. Germination is improved if the seeds are soaked in water for 48 hours, according to the National Bitter Melon Council's website.


The seeds may be started indoors or sown directly into the soil, 1.5 to 2 feet apart, once the outside temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Both Chinese and Indian bitter melons grow best in full to partial sunlight and need moist, well-drained soil. Although the vine can sprawl along the ground, it may be less susceptible to diseases if it grows vertically. Bitter gourds need a trellis, pole or other climbing support that is at least 6 feet tall.


Yellow, vanilla-scented flowers appear in spring to early summer. Flowers are both male and female and are followed by the fruit, which is generally ready to harvest two months after planting. Fruit should be picked while it is young, eight to 10 days after blossom drop. Chinese bitter gourds are at their least bitter while the fruits are small -- about 4 to 6 inches long. Indian bitter gourds can be harvested once they are 4 inches long.


You can cut the bitter taste of the fruit by cutting it into slices and salting it, as with eggplant, or boiling slices in a brine of sugar, salt, turmeric and white vinegar. While Chinese bitter gourds are often used in Taiwan, China and the Philippines for stir fry dishes, in India, the fruits are commonly used with meats or onions.

How to Grow White Bitter Melon

By Judith Evans

Along with cucumbers, squashes and melons, white bitter melon is a cucurbit vegetable. The elongated fruits have pebbled skins and grow up to 6 to 12 inches long. For example, hybrid White Pearl produces tender, slightly bitter fruit measuring 9 inches long and 3 inches wide, while India Long White fruits measure 12 inches long. The 6-foot vine needs a trellis to keep fruits off the ground and preserve fruit quality. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, it grows as a perennial in frost-free regions and as a warm-season annual in cooler locations.

1. Spread a 2-inch layer of organic compost over the surface of a planting bed in an area that receives full sun. Till the compost 6 to 8 inches into the soil to create a well-drained mixture. Test the soil and add elemental sulfur, if necessary, to lower the pH level to 5.5 to 6.7. Mound the soil into 8-inch hills spaced 4 feet apart, and add 1 tablespoon of complete, low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as 6-10-10, to each hill.

2. Insert 8-foot stakes 2 feet deep and 4 feet apart behind the hills and press the soil to support the stakes. Tie fishing line to a stake and run the line every 6 inches horizontally and vertically between the stakes to create netting for the vines.

3. Sow eight to 10 white bitter melon seeds in each hill when the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the seeds with 1 inch of soil and water slowly and thoroughly to soak the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Spread 3 inches of straw or other organic mulch to preserve soil moisture. Provide 1 inch of water each week in the absence of rain.

4. Thin the seedlings to four plants per hill when the seedlings have two or three leaves. Place the white bitter melon vines on the trellis as the branches grow, and prune the vine when it reaches the top of the trellis. Trim the vine tip and branches to stimulate growth and increase yield, recommends The National Bitter Melon Council. Flowering should begin five to six weeks after planting.

5. Pull up weeds as they appear. Remove tiny, wingless aphids from white bitter melon plants by hand or with water from a garden hose. Aphids transmit watermelon mosaic virus, which causes raised leaf spots and malformed fruits. To minimize pests, rotate melon plants with non-cucurbit crops on a three-year schedule.

6. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of 33-0-0 nitrogen fertilizer per hill after the flowers begin to bloom if your soil is light or sandy, recommends Purdue University Cooperative Extension. Water after you apply the fertilizer. White bitter melons need adequate nitrogen, which leaches from light soil. Add another application of nitrogen fertilizer in three weeks.

7. Pollinate the flowers by hand during the day if you do not have honeybees or other pollinators in your area. Locate the female flowers, which have a thick area between the stem and the flower. Press the faces of male and female flowers together to transfer the pollen to the female flower. Fruits should appear two or three months after planting.

8. Cut newspaper into pieces that will fit over the developing white bitter melon fruits to protect the fruits from the sun and pests. Fold the pieces of paper over the tops of the fruits and tape the paper sleeve edges together. Leave the sleeves open at the bottom of the fruits.

9. Harvest white bitter melons eight to 10 days after the blossoms drop, when fruits measure 6 to 12 inches long, depending on the variety. Pick the fruits every two or three days to promote new fruit growth and prevent the fruits from over-ripening. Do not eat soft, over-ripe fruits, which can be toxic to humans and animals.

◘ Things You Will Need

• Shovel
• Organic compost
• Garden tiller
• Elemental sulfur
• 6-10-10 fertilizer
• 8-foot garden stakes
• 100-foot roll of fishing line for every two stakes
• Garden hose
• Organic mulch
• Pruning scissors
• 33-0-0 fertilizer
• Newspaper
• Scissors
• Tape

Bitter Melon Could Hinder Survival Of Pancreatic Cancer Cells, Study Suggests

(Huffington Post)

A fruit commonly consumed in Asian countries could also play an important role in fighting cancer, according to a new study in mice.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that the juice of the bitter melon — a green squash-shaped produce with a bumpy skin — could stop pancreatic cancer cells from metabolizing glucose. This is important because cancer cells need this energy in order to survive — and blocking off their glucose supply kills them.

“It’s a very exciting finding,” study researcher Rajesh Agarwal, Ph.D., who is the co-program leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the university, said in a statement. “Many researchers are engineering new drugs to target cancer cells’ ability to supply themselves with energy, and here we have a naturally-occurring compound that may do just that.”

Researchers tested bitter melon juice’s effects on pancreatic cancer cells in mice, and found that the mice that were given the juice had a 60 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with control mice.

The new findings are published in the journal Carcinogenesis.

In 2010, researchers from Saint Louis University found that bitter melon extract could stop breast cancer cells from proliferating in a lab setting.

Harvesting Bitter Gourd

By Suzanne S. Wiley

Bitter gourd or bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. It is a wrinkly or warty, oblong green vegetable related to squash. Its name isn’t for show. The flesh and rind of the melon is very bitter. Bitter gourd is fairly simple to grow, but it must be harvested promptly to prevent overripening and competition for nutrients.

Fast Times

As bitter gourds develop, their skin changes from dark green to orange, with light green and yellow intermediate stages. The transition is fairly fast, and the gourd can quickly go from a straight, green vegetable to looking like a strange orange creature that has split open, revealing rows of seeds in red pulp. When growing bitter gourds, watch for the flowering stage. It will take about a week to a week and a half for the gourds to form after the blossoms fall off the plant. At this point, the gourds should be anywhere from 2 to 6 inches long, light green and firm. If you see any yellow patches, the gourd is on its way to being unpleasantly overripe. Keep checking the vine every two to three days for new gourds that are ready for harvest. Leaving gourds on the vine not only wastes the gourd, but the older gourd steals nutrients away from newer gourds that are still edible.

Slow Down

After harvesting, keep the gourds in the refrigerator and use them within five days. Don’t throw the gourds into the fridge without looking. If you store the gourd with something that releases ethylene gas, like fruits such as apples, you’ll end up with an inedible gourd. This gas promotes fast ripening and eventual overripeness. Given that bitter gourds can continue to ripen after being picked, storage away from ethylene-producing fruits is a must.

One Door Closes, One Door Opens

If you miss a gourd and later find its orange, pulpy incarnation hanging off the vine, you’re still in luck. You can harvest the seeds after the gourd splits open. Bitter gourd vines are grown from seed, and the ones you collect will remain good for a couple of years. The National Bitter Melon Council says to wash and dry the seeds and store them somewhere where they’ll remain cool and dry.

Trellising Helps

While you could grow bitter gourds on the ground, trellising them is much better because it makes harvesting them a lot easier, especially if you arrange them in a way so the vines are high up, allowing the gourds to hang down. Instead of having to dig through the prolific foliage of the plant to find gourds, the hanging gourds will be very visible, making those frequent harvesting trips go much more quickly.

Bitter Melon Facts

By Joanne Marie

Bitter melon, also called bitter gourd or balsam pear, is the warty-skinned fruit of the Momordica charantia plant, a tropical vine native to Asia, South America and parts of Africa. Rich in vitamins and minerals, bitter melon also contains biologically active compounds that may help improve your health and lower your risk of certain disorders.


Bitter melon is generally low in calories, with only 21 calories per fruit, mostly in the form of carbohydrate with a small amount of protein. An average-sized melon is also rich in several vitamins, providing about 100 milligrams of vitamin C, almost 600 international units of vitamin A, about 90 micrograms of folate and small amounts of several other B vitamins. Bitter melon also provides important minerals, including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, with 24, 21 and 38 milligrams per fruit, respectively. It is also quite rich in potassium, a mineral important for healthy kidneys, with more than 350 milligrams in each melon, and provides 3.5 grams of healthy dietary fiber per fruit.


Bitter melon contains a number of natural plant compounds, or phytochemicals, that have possible health benefits. They include beta-carotene, lycopene and zeaxanthin, three carotenoids with antioxidant properties, as well as other active compounds called momordin, vicine and charatin, and several other natural constituents. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that a number of these compounds may have potentially important effects on your body, affecting how it stores energy and regulates many different biochemical reactions. These actions may help lower your risk of several health problems, including diabetes and cancer.

Blood Sugar

Memorial Sloan-Kettering says that several phytochemicals in bitter melon increase uptake of glucose from your blood into your cells and speed production of a glucose-based storage compound called glycogen in your liver and muscles. These actions help lower your blood sugar after a meal, reducing demand on your body to produce insulin, the hormone that reduces blood sugar. This can lower your risk of diabetes or improve your health if you already have the disorder. In a clinical research study published in "Journal of Ethnopharmacology," patients with Type 2 diabetes who consumed bitter melon for four weeks experienced significant reduction in their average blood sugar levels. However, larger clinical studies are needed to confirm this possible benefit.


Compounds in bitter melon may also have natural anti-cancer properties, potentially interfering with growth and development of cancer cells. In laboratory research with cultured cancer cells and laboratory animals published in "Anticancer Research," breast cancer cells treated with a compound called MAP30 isolated from bitter melon stopped growing. When laboratory animals with breast tumors were treated with either the compound or a placebo, those that received MAP30 had longer tumor-free periods and better survival rates than the placebo group. The study's authors suggest that bitter melon-derived compounds might have potential value as a therapy for human cancer patients, a possibility that needs confirmation from clinical trials.


Fresh bitter melon is available from specialty food stores, and bitter melon extracts can be found in health-food stores as tablets or capsules. Although bitter melon is generally considered safe, its seeds may be toxic and should be avoided. The melon or its extract should not be consumed during pregnancy since it may cause uterine contractions. Bitter melon may also interact with some drugs, especially diabetes medicines. Do not consume bitter melon without first consulting your doctor to determine what is best for you.

Different Kinds of Bitter Gourd

By Cathryn Chaney

The common name bitter gourd is used in the United States to refer to the bitter melon (Momordica charantia). It is also called balsam pear. A member of the squash family (Cucurbitaceae), bitter melon is widely used in Asian cooking and available in the United States in Asian markets. All parts of the plant also have traditional medicinal uses. True to its name, the spongy white to green pulp is bitter tasting due to compounds called momordicosides. Many cultivars exist, categorized by fruit shape, color, size and presence of skin tubercles.


Bitter melons grow on 6-foot-long vines that can be left on the ground or trellised for straighter fruit, especially useful for long bitter melons. Native to tropical India and Southeast Asia, bitter melon has delicate foliage, simple tendrils and slender hairy stems. Plants produce both male and female flowers, with females bearing usually oblong, vertically ridged fruits. Immature melons are green or white, turning yellow-orange when mature. Ripe fruits split open at the blossom end, revealing orange flesh and tan or white seeds cloaked in bright red fleshy arils that are also eaten. Fruits increase in bitterness with maturity.

White-Fruited Cultivars

"Taiwan White" has white skin and flesh. Hybrid "White Pearl" has tender, slightly bitter fruit used in stir-fry, salads and soups. The developing fruits are protected by a paper sleeve open at the bottom end to minimize sun damage and scratches. "Beauty Winner" is a hybrid that is nearly white, with good flavor and texture. The plant is vigorous and produces prolific fruit from 55 days after sowing to the end of the growing season.

Green-Fruited Cultivars

"Taiwan Large" has green skin, white flesh, and 12-inch-long fruits that can weigh 1 pound. "Large Top" has a broader square stem end, dark green skin and is a vigorous, rain-resistant cultivar. Two small-fruited green cultivars developed in Thailand are "Baby Doll" and "Small Baby." Another Thailand hybrid is "Bangkok Large" with glossy green skin and large fruits. Two improved types of Indian bitter melons with green fruits are "Pusa Do Mausami" and "Priya."

Tubercled Cultivars

"India Star" is 4 to 6 inches long and studded with teeth and short spines. The thick white flesh of this variety is popular in India, Thailand and Southeastern Asia. "India Long Green" is covered with many green teeth on the skin. "India Green Queen" has dark green skin with sharp, scattered tubercles. The Indian variety "MDU 1" is whitish-green and covered in warts. "Preethi" has whitish fruits ornamented with spines.

Long -Fruited Cultivars

"Japan Long" produces 12- to 13-inch-long dark green fruits, which should be harvested while young. Fruits of "India Long White" grow from 8 to 12 inches long. "Jumbo TH" is a hybrid with fruits that weigh 1 pound or more and measure 12 inches long. It is suited to grow in subtropical areas that have less humidity than tropical areas. Improved hybrids from India include "Coimbatore Long" and "Priya."

Spindle-Shaped Cultivars

Shaped like tops or spindles used for spinning yarn, these cultivars have a rounded stem end and pointed bottom. "Hong Kong Green" is popular in Hong Kong, Canton, China and Southeastern Asia. "Japan Green Spindle" has a medium-sized fruit widely grown in Japan and tropical Asia. Medium-sized fruit are harvested when young and tender. The Indian cultivar "Arka Harit" has short spindle-shaped fruit with smooth glossy green skin and has vertical ribbing and thick flesh. "Konkan Tara" has prickles on its skin and keeps well for seven to eight days after harvest.

Karela or bittergourd can help manage diabetes better

By Pavitra Sampath

Control diabetes naturally, try having karela juice

Most of us avoid eating or rather dislike bitter gourd or karela due to its bitter taste, but what we lose by keeping it out of our diet are many nutrients required by body and thereby missing out on its health benefits. It is known to be highly beneficial for diabetics owing to the two very essential compounds called charatin and momordicin, that are the key compounds in lowering one’s blood sugar levels.

It is also packed with anti-oxidants that helps the body fight off the associated complications commonly seen in diabetics by scavenging free radicals. More importantly, the seeds of the plant are packed with a plant insulin called polypeptide-P, that mimics the insulin produced by the human pancreas, and reduces one’s sugar levels. You may like to read about home remedies for diabetes. Not only for diabetes, karela is known to have various other benefits like to maintain a healthy digestive health etc.

Tip: If you suffer from low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia, do not have karela juice or karela concentrate. It can cause a sudden drop in your blood sugar levels leading to a number of serious complications.

Get the best out of karela

The best way to have it is to consume as a juice, with its seeds on an empty stomach. Cut the karela with the skin and the seeds, soak in water with salt and haldi or turmeric for 15 minutes. This will help reduce the bitter taste. Now take out the pieces from the water and grind it with the water and a few drops of lemon. Sieve out the fibrous part and drink on an empty stomach, preferably first thing in the morning. Karela juice also has various health benefits and drinking it daily is ideal not only for diabetics but also everyone. For a change of taste and an added boost to your immune system try adding half a piece of amla or Indian gooseberry to the juice for the sour taste. Amla is the best source of vitamin C and including it in your diet regularly has various health benefits.

7 Health Benefits Of Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy

By Chhandita Chakravarty

So, you are pregnant. Congratulations and best of luck for the journey ahead. Are you ready for all the changes awaiting you? What about changes in your eating habits?

When you are pregnant, every morsel counts. That is why it is also very important to be aware of what you should stay away from when you are expecting a baby.

Bitter Gourd is not a popular part of any diet. But a minority of women do enjoy it. But is it safe to eat bitter gourd during pregnancy? If you are a bitter gourd fan, you need to read this article!

Benefits Of Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy:

Even if you are not into bitter gourd, it may be time to rethink. Bitter melon, as it is also called, is filled with a number of health benefits. Some of the positives you can expect from this green vegetable include:

1. Great Source Of Folate:

You need folate or folic acid during pregnancy. Folate is essential to prevent neural tube defects in your unborn baby. Bitter gourd is a great source of folic acid and can fulfill about a quarter of its daily requirement.

2. Keeps Digestion Healthy:

Many women experience digestive problems during pregnancy. An over dose of hormones and an expanding uterus can lead to problems like bloating, flatulence, etc. Bitter gourd contains a good amount of fiber, which can help keep these problems away.

3. Prevents Constipation And Hemorrhoids:

The high fiber content in bitter gourd also plays a big role in preventing problems like constipation and hemorrhoids. These two problems are very common during pregnancy. But that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. So, just add a little bitter melon to your diet to stay free of these nasty pregnancy fall-outs!

4. Fights And Prevents Gestational Diabetes:

Many women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Fortunately, bitter gourd can easily help prevent and treat this problem. It contains nutrients like charantin and polypeptide-P that can help balance your blood sugar levels.

5. Boosts Immunity:

During pregnancy, the smallest of illnesses can cause a lot of problems. A simple cough and cold can take a toll on your body when you are pregnant. What you need is to boost your immune system. Bitter gourd contains vitamin C, which is popular for its antioxidant properties. This property helps bitter gourd boost your immune system and fight common illnesses .

6. Great Source Of Nutrients:

Both you and your unborn baby require extra nutrients when you are pregnant. Bitter gourd contains vitamins and minerals like iron, niacin, potassium, pantothenic acid, zinc, pyridoxine, magnesium, and manganese. All these nutrients are essential for the health of your baby.

7. Helps You Gain Healthy Weight:

Yes, you need to gain weight during pregnancy. But you don’t need to fill yourself up with junk food! What you need is to gain healthy weight. Bitter gourd, with its high fiber content, can fill you up while providing essential nutrients. This will give you a feeling of satiety. No need for high-calorie foods that can bloat you up! Side Effects Of Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy:

So, where is the hitch? What stops you from making bitter gourd a part of your pregnancy diet? Well, it makes sense to hesitate! Here are some risks you should be aware of before eating bitter gourd in pregnancy: 1. Can Lead To Digestive Problems:

If you are a fan of bitter gourd, you may be tempted to have a little too much of it. But be moderate. Excessive bitter gourd in your system can lead to digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and gas (7). 2. Can Cause Toxicity:

Eating bitter gourd during pregnancy can cause toxicity in some people. This is because of the amount of Momordica charantia in bitter gourd

3. Can Cause Premature Labor:

Bitter gourd consumption can also disturb the uterus and cause premature labor (9).

Bitter gourd is something that should find a place in your pregnancy menu. But do talk to your doctor before you add bitter gourd to your meals.

The bottom line is to have a balanced diet. Don’t let the taste of this nutritious vegetable put you off. Cooked right, bitter gourd can turn into a gourmet delight!

5 benefits of eating bitter gourd aka karela, from weight loss to blood purification

Mandwi Singh (

Considered the most despicable vegetable of all, the karela is high in nutrients and provides numerous health benefits.

Bitter gourd, or karela in Hindi, is relished for its benefits and despised for its bitter taste.

It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fibre. It is rich in iron, and contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana, according to

Even drinking raw karela juice is full of advantages as it contains essential vitamins as well as antioxidants that all of us need.

Here are five heath benefits of eating karela.

1. Acts as a blood purifier: The antimicrobial and antioxidant properties present in karela juice help in treating skin problems, blood disorders, removing toxins from the blood and purifing it. It also improves blood circulation and helps to cure issues like rashes, acne, psoriasis, blood boils and even hinders the growth of cancerous cells in the body.

2. Helps in weight loss: Eating or drinking the juice of karela stimulates the liver to secrete bile acids that are essential for metabolising fat in the body. Besides, a 100g serving of bitter gourd contains just 17 calories making it a great option for fitness enthusiasts.

3. Improves immunity: Karela is an extremely rich source of vitamin C, which helps boost immunity. It also has powerful antiviral property, which stimulates the immune system and also aids in digestion.

4. Great for diabetes: Bitter gourd has a certain insulin-like protein called polypeptide P that mimics the action of insulin and lowers blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

5. Fight acne: Consuming karela can help you get rid of acne, blemishes and skin infections and gives you a healthy and glowing skin.

Know why bitter gourd is good for health!

(Zee Media Bureau)

New Delhi: Some people doesn't like to eat bitter gourd because of its bitter taste. But many are not aware that it is really good for our health as it promotes many health benefits and helps prevents many diseases.

Here are some health benefits of bitter gourd which we all should know:

Respiratory disorders

Consuming bitter gourd juice mix with a cup of honey diluted in water helps in improving asthma, bronchitis and pharyngitis.


Bitter gourd juice also improves energy, stamina level and also helps stabilized sleeping patterns. Boosts immune system

Bitter juice of bitter gourd bulids your immune system and increase your body’s resistance against infection.


Bitter gourd improves diabetic conditions as it decreases blood sugar levels and also has anti-oxidative properties.


Bitter gourd is good for digestion as it relieves indigestion and constipation problems by stimulating easy digestion and peristalsis of food through the bowel until it is excreted from the body.

Caraili: Bitter but good

By Nasser Khan

The Ministry of Education’s announcement to include more local content in the School Nutrition/Feeding Programme is a welcome initiative that will only auger well for the nation’s health and agriculture sectors.

Food for Thought/Grow and Eat Local seeks to inform about the 149 crops that are grown in T&T (not counting the varieties within many of them).

In this the 27th instalment of the continuing series, we feature caraili/caraaili/carailli, a popular vegetable in the diets of peoples throughout the tropical world. Ironically, its popularity is largely based not on its taste which is markedly bitter but on its invaluable medicinal properties. It is a tropical plant that is widely cultivated in Asia, India, East Africa, South America and the Caribbean commonly used in cooking and as a natural remedy for treating diabetes.

Also known as bitter melon, bitter squash, or balsam-pear, Momordica charantia, has names adapted from other languages such as karela from Sanskrit. Here in T&T, we call it caraili (pronounced ‘car-eye-lee’), again a likely variation from the Sanskrit language.

Caraili originated in India and was introduced into China in the 14th century. It is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae. Its many varieties differ substantially in shape and bitterness. Unlike its cousins, the pumpkin and watermelon, Caraili is cultivated on upright trellises so that it hangs down and does not lie on the ground.

The vine grows up to five metres in length as a climbing perennial that bears elongated produce with a knobby, warty surface. It is a useful medicinal and vegetable plant for human health and one of the most promising plants for diabetes…bitter but good, as it is often labelled. Some bear miniature caraile of only six to ten cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables.

These miniature delicacies, properly prepared, is popular in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and other countries in South Asia. Here in the Caribbean, a wild form exists with very small fruit that are a favourite of the birds which spread the seeds. When ripe the seeds are a delicacy when eaten straight from the pod. This wild form can be a nuisance though since it is aggressive, grows quickly and can cover and smother existing trees. In village life, vines were pulled to make a bedding for chickens to set and said to keep away fowl lice.

Caraili is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large, flat seeds and pith. It is mostly eaten green, or as it is beginning to turn yellow. At this stage, the flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, christophene or green bell pepper, but bitter. The skin is tender and edible. Seeds and pith appear white when unripe and are usually removed before cooking.

As it ripens, the flesh (rind) becomes somewhat tougher and more bitter, and many consider it too distasteful to eat. On the other hand, the pith becomes sweet and intensely red; it can be eaten uncooked in this state, and is a popular ingredient in some Southeast Asian salads.

When fully ripe, it turns orange and mushy, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp. The pulp and arils are high in carotenoids, iron, phosphorous and ascorbic acid. The pulp has soluble pectin but no free pectic acid. Research has found that the leaves are nutritious sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron; both the edible parts and the leaves are great sources of the B vitamins.

Caraili is generally consumed cooked in the green or early yellowing stage. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter melon may also be eaten as greens. In Chinese cuisine, caraili is valued for its bitter flavour, typically in stir-fries, soups, dim sum, and herbal teas. In North Indian cuisine, it is often served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, used in curries or stuffed with spices and then cooked in oil. Here in the Caribbean, caraili can be cut into slices and fried, or stuffed with fillings made with meat, fish or vegetables, a delicacy called “kaloungi”.

Caraili is a powerful nutrient-dense plant composed of a complex array of beneficial compounds. These include bioactive chemicals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which all contribute to its remarkable versatility in treating a wide range of illnesses. They contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, as well as vitamin B9 (folate). The caloric values for leaf, fruit and seed were 213.26, 241.66 and 176.61 Kcal/100 g respectively.

It is also rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, and is a good source of dietary fibre. Medicinal value of Caraili has been attributed to its high antioxidant properties due in part to phenols, flavonoids, iso flavones, terpenes, anthroquinones, and glucosinolates, all of which confer a bitter taste.

Based on the multitude of medical conditions that Caraili can treat, scientists are more and more interested in studying its bioactive compounds and their actions on the body. However, as many studies report, there has been substantial emphasis on the anti-diabetic compounds and their hypoglycemic properties. A number of reported clinical studies have shown that extracts from the Caraili (skin, pulp, seeds, leaves) contain several bioactive compounds that have hypoglycemic activity in both diabetic animals and humans.

Caraili has been in use for a very long time in Hindu medicine or Ayurveda and also used in various Asian and African herbal medicine systems. In Turkey, it has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly stomach complaints. In traditional medicine of India different parts of the plant are used to relieve diabetes, as a stomachic, laxative, antibilious, emetic, anthelmintic agent, for the treatment of cough, respiratory diseases, skin diseases, wounds, ulcer, gout, and rheumatism. It has a number of purported uses including cancer prevention, treatment of diabetes, fever, HIV and Aids, and infections. While it has shown some potential clinical activity in laboratory experiments, further studies are required to recommend its use.

Visit the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries’ website at

This series is written in collaboration with Cynthra Persad, retired director of Research, Ministry of Agriculture. For information on acquiring copies of the two Crops of T&T charts, email [email protected]

Fried caraili

- 1 large Caraili
- 2 pimento peppers
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- • Chop caraili into rings
- • Cut up pimento peppers, onion and garlic and set aside
- • In a frying pan, medium flame, heat oil
- • Add chopped onions etc, and sauté until golden brown; add chopped caraili rings and mix in with the seasoning; continue frying, turning caraili until slightly brown
- • Add salt and pepper to taste

Bitter Melon Isn't as Exotic as You Might Think

By Pooja Makhijani

Exoticism is all about perspective. I roll my eyes when foodies express profound amazement for an ingredient or a dish that is unfamiliar to white people. Most recently, I stumbled upon Jennifer McLagan’s Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor. She devotes pages (and recipes) to the bitter melon (also known as bitter gourd), a vegetable that the South Asian cooks in my family and community consider rather ordinary.

A bitter taste profile is prevalent in many of India’s curries, and is highly coveted. When I was growing up in New Jersey, my mother would frequently purchase this green, oblong, knobby fruit at a nearby specialty grocery story—white people would describe such a grocery store as “ethnic”—and whip up a simple tomato and onion-based bitter melon stew, a traditional Sindhi preparation. Bitter melon has a crunchy husk, like a green pepper, and a watery texture, like a cucumber. But it’s weedy, alkaline taste is unlike any other like fruit or vegetable.

Even to my trained taste buds, bitter melon is nearly inedible raw. My mother tamed its bitterness by marinating it in yogurt, lemon juice, and salt before stewing. Heat alters the fruit’s texture to that of a cooked zucchini, and the sharp sourness—khatai in my mother tongue—of the yogurt, lemon juice, and tomatoes softens its bitterness. She also knew that the younger the melon, the sharper its taste, and often chose mature, riper melons when cooking for family who didn’t care as much for the fruit as she did.

On special occasions, she prepared Punjabi-style bharwan karela, bitter gourd stuffed with a pungent, tangy masala of ground coriander powder, asafetida, and roasted cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds. Again, this mélange of spices perfectly complimented the melon, accentuating its unmistakable astringent flavor.

Bitter melons have always been considered superfoods in my family, long before these nutrient powerhouses became hip to the West. Over the dinner table, my elderly great aunts and uncles would debate the merits and demerits of pulverized bitter gourd and cite clinical trials showing that bitter gourd has anti-diabetic properties, before downing their ayurvedic doctor-mandated spoonful-a-day of fine, brown powder.

Year later, my mother-in-law would introduce to me a Southern Indian preparation of bitter melon from the Palakkad region of Kerala. Pavakka pachadi is a bitter gourd accompaniment served as part of a sadya, or banquet of vegetarian dishes, served on a banana leaf on holidays such as Onam, Kerala’s rice harvest festival. Here, the diced bitter gourd is sautéed in a grated coconut and yogurt paste, and tempered with crushed mustard seeds, dried red chilies, and curry leaves. The vegetable’s bitterness is mitigated by sour yogurt and sweet coconut, and serves as a cooling side dish to offset the heat of the sadya’s tamarind-spiked, soupy sambars and roasted coconut sauce-based erisserys.

Outside of South Asia and South Asian kitchens, bitter gourd is considered a rather unexceptional ingredient. Here in Singapore, where I now make my home, ku gua chao dan, or bitter gourd with egg, is a classic local home-style Chinese dish in which is sliced bitter gourd is stir-fried with fermented black beans and egg. To remove the fruit’s bitter taste, home cooks often sprinkle sliced bitter gourd slices with salt. The salt leaches away liquid from this watery fruit, which is then squeezed out to remove some of its strong flavor.

Juice of bitter melons can kill cancer cells

By Jo Willey

THE juice of bitter melons can kill cancer cells, according to research.

Scientists have found that the warty green fruit used in ancient Chinese medicine, restricts the ability of pancreatic cancer cells to metabolise glucose, cutting the cells’ energy source and eventually killing them.

Previous research has hailed the benefits of the unusual fruit which has been shown to contain natural chemicals which can help treat Type 2 diabetes.

Scientists discovered that it contains four bioactive compounds which activate an enzyme in the human body called AMPK.

The enzyme, also triggered by exercise, helps fat and muscle cells to use blood glucose effectively but is not activated properly in Type 2 sufferers.

Bitter melon extract has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, with no reported side effects.

Now, new research published in the journal Carcinogenesis shows that bitter melon juice could also be a powerful cancer treatment.

Rajesh Agarwal, co-program leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the University of Colorado Cancer Centre and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the USA said: “Three years ago researchers showed the effect of bitter melon extract on breast cancer cells only in a Petri dish. This study goes much, much farther.

“We used the juice - people especially in Asian countries are already consuming it in quantity. We show that it affects the glucose metabolism pathway to restrict energy and kill pancreatic cancer cells.”

Bitter melon has also been shown to regulate insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells.

After studies in cell cultures, the group showed that mouse models of pancreatic cancer that were fed bitter melon juice were 60 per cent less likely to develop the disease than controls.

Argarwal added: “It’s a very exciting finding. Many researchers are engineering new drugs to target cancer cells’ ability to supply themselves with energy, and here we have a naturally-occurring compound that may do just that.”

The Agarwal Lab is now applying for grants that will allow them to move the study of bitter melon into further chemoprevention trials in mouse models of pancreatic cancer.

Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or karela (in India), is a unique vegetable-fruit that can be used as food or medicine.

It is the edible part of the plant Momordica Charantia, which is a vine of the Cucurbitaceae family and is considered the most bitter among all fruits and vegetables.

The plant thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, including South America, Asia, parts of Africa and the Caribbean

The bitter melon itself grows off the vine as a green, oblong-shaped fruit with a distinct warty exterior - though its size, texture and bitterness vary between the different regions in which it grows - and is rich in vital vitamins and minerals. Bitter melon juice may prevent pancreatic cancer

(The Hindu)

cientists have discovered that juice from bitter melon also known as bitter gourd or ‘karela’, used for centuries against diabetes in the folk medicines of India and China, can prevent pancreatic cancer.

Researchers from the University of Colorado, Denver, found that bitter melon juice restricts the ability of pancreatic cancer cells to metabolise glucose, cutting the cells’ energy source and eventually killing them in mouse models.

“Three years ago researchers showed the effect of bitter melon extract on breast cancer cells only in a Petri dish. This study goes much, much farther,” said Rajesh Agarwal, co-programme leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the CU Cancer Centre and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“We used the juice — people especially in Asian countries are already consuming it in quantity — to show that it affects the glucose metabolism pathway to restrict energy and kill pancreatic cancer cells,” Agarwal said.

Agarwal’s interest came from connecting the dots of existing research in a novel way. Diabetes tends to presage pancreatic cancer and bitter melon has been shown to effect type-II diabetes, and has been used for centuries in China and India.

Following this line of thinking, Agarwal and colleagues wondered what would happen if they closed out the middle man of diabetes and directly explored the link between bitter melon and pancreatic cancer.

The result, Agarwal said, is, “alteration in metabolic events in pancreatic cancer cells and an activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase, an enzyme that indicates low energy levels in the cells.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, bitter melon also regulates insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells. After studies in cell cultures, the group showed that mouse models of pancreatic cancer that were fed bitter melon juice were 60 per cent less likely to develop the disease than controls.

“It’s a very exciting finding. Many researchers are engineering new drugs to target cancer cells’ ability to supply themselves with energy, and here we have a naturally-occurring compound that may do just that,” Agarwal said in a statement.

The study was published in the journal Carcinogenesis.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Bitter Gourd?

By Sylvie Tremblay

Bitter gourd -- also called balsam pear or bitter melon -- belongs to the same plant family as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. Native to the tropics, bitter gourd is popular in Chinese cooking, as well as Indian, Indonesian and Vietnamese cuisines. Bitter gourd contributes to a healthy diet, and benefits your health due to its rich nutrient content.

Vitamin C

Bitter gourd is a rich source of vitamin C. Vitamin C protects your cells from free radicals, harmful agents involved in cancer development, cardiovascular disease and aging. It also benefits your immune system, keeps your tissues strong by facilitating collagen production and helps you absorb iron from your diet. A cup of bitter gourd contains 78 milligrams of vitamin C. This provides the entire daily recommended intake of vitamin C for women, and 87 percent of the RDA for men.

Vitamin A

Bitter gourd also boosts your intake of vitamin A, a nutrient essential to good health. Vitamin A plays a role in cell communication and aids in new cell growth and development. It helps maintain your vision by supporting retinal function, and also nourishes your corneas and conjunctival membranes, the tissue that lines the inside of your eyelids. Eating a cup of bitter gourd boosts your vitamin A consumption by 438 international units -- 15 percent of the recommended daily vitamin A intake for men and 19 percent for women.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Eat bitter gourd as a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two beneficial pigment molecules that belong to the carotenoid nutrient family. Like vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin benefit your eyes, nourishing your retinas and lenses. Consuming dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin might affect cataract development and progression, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. There is no established daily recommended intake for lutein and zeaxanthin, but each cup of bitter gourd boosts your dietary intake by 158 micrograms.

Preparing Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd requires some prep work before it can be eaten. Slice the gourd in half and remove the inner seeds and pith, then parboil the remaining flesh to mellow its strong flavor. After parboiling, you can use bitter melon in stir-fries and casseroles, or use it to boost the veggie content of soups. Alternatively, try stuffed bitter gourd, containing chopped vegetables, quinoa and seasoned chicken.

You Should Eat More Bitter Melon — Here's Why

By Jolia Allen

Whether you call it bitter melon, bitter gourd, bitter squash, bitter cucumber, goya, karela, balsam pear, or one of its many other names, there's one thing to know for sure about this underrated fruit: you should be eating more of it.

Never heard of it? Don't let its funky appearance or bitter taste deter you: bitter melon is wildly popular in India and Asian countries — and for good reason.

When it comes to health benefits, many cultures eat bitter melon or take it in supplement form as a traditional "medicine" to treat diabetes. While more research is needed, early studies are promising and show that over time bitter melon can improve blood sugar levels. It's also used to treat a variety of issues like constipation, kidney stones, the skin condition psoriasis, and liver disease. And when combined with ginger, lemon, and honey, it makes a wicked hangover tonic.

Plus, bitter melon is an ideal food for weight loss since it's a low-calorie and high-fiber food — and it's high in vitamin C, folate, and vitamin A.

So how do you get more of this medicinal wonder into your diet? Here's what you need to know:

Shop Smart

You can find bitter melon in most Asian markets and many grocery stores — just look out for the vibrant green, spiky-looking gourds, about the size of English cucumbers. While they may be available year-round, their peak season is April through September. According to the National Bitter Melon Council, you'll want to choose greener melons for maximum bitterness and yellow-orange melons for a more mild flavor. You can store the fresh fruit in the refrigerator for three to five days.

Prep Like a Pro

To reduce its bitterness before cooking with it, you can either salt it or blanch it. To salt it, slice the melon in half and core the fruit, cover in salt, and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Then, rinse off the salt and use as desired. To blanch, core and slice the melon and boil it in lightly salted water for two minutes, then dunk the slices in ice water to halt the cooking.

Get Cookin'

Once it's been salted or blanched, you can use it just as you would zucchini or green peppers: it's fabulous steamed, roasted, stuffed, or used in stir-fries, curries, scrambled eggs, and soups. It's also popular in smoothies and juices. The National Bitter Melon Council recommends pairing it with other flavors such as garlic, chili peppers, and coconut milk.

How to Prepare Your Own Bitter Melon

By Nadia Haris (Demand Media)

Bitter melon is a small, gourd-like melon that is commonly used as a food in Southeast Asia. It is also considered a medicinal food and it is eaten whole and extracted to aid the treatment of diabetes, cholesterol and infections. Bitter melon can be challenging to cook because, as its name suggests, it is has a strong bitter taste. You can prepare this vegetable, which is also known as karela, by lightly frying, boiling, steaming or roasting it. 1 Wash the bitter melons and pat them dry with dish towel. Cut off the short stalks at both ends. Scrape the outer peel of the bitter melon with a paring knife to remove a thin layer of peel. Bitter melon is not typically peeled because the outer skin is edible; however, removing a thin layer of peel helps to reduce the rough outer texture.

2 Cut the bitter melon in half length-wise. Remove the seeds and fibrous core using a teaspoon or a paring knife. The seeds and core are edible and can be cooked along with the bitter melon pieces if desired.

3 Slice the bitter melon halves width-wise into 2-inch thick pieces. Place a frying pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Pour in a tablespoon of canola or olive oil and allow it to heat up until it is lightly simmering.

4 Drop in the bitter melon pieces and allow them to cook. Stir the bitter melon constantly with a wooden spoon as they cook. Continue lightly frying the bitter melon until they are toasted.

5 Place a paper towel onto a plate. Transfer the toasted bitter melon pieces from the frying pan onto the plate. The paper towel absorbs any excess oil in the bitter melon. Add to salads, stews and soups.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Bitter Gourd?

by Joanne Marie

Bitter gourd, also called bitter melon or balsam pear, is produced by an evergreen tropical plant, Mormodica charantia. Named for its strong bitter flavor, it is considered the most bitter of all edible vegetables. The gourd resembles a light green cucumber, with an elongated shape covered with a warty rind. In addition to its use as food in salads and cooked dishes, bitter gourd has medicinal properties and may benefit your health in several ways.


Bitter gourd is a low-calorie vegetable, with only 24 calories in a 1-cup serving of cooked, diced gourd. Its nutrients are mainly carbohydrates, with a small amount of protein and a trace of fat. Each 1-cup serving of bitter gourd also contains moderate amounts of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus and a tiny amount of iron. It is exceptionally rich in potassium, with almost 400 milligrams per serving. Bitter gourd also contains several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, A and E, and several of the B vitamins; it is especially rich in folate, with 63 micrograms per serving. Bitter gourd also contains several natural plant compounds, or phytochemicals, that may affect your body positively and lower your risk of disease.

Cancer and HIV

Bitter melon contains a number of chemicals with medicinal properties. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center says that some of these compounds may suppress the growth of cancer cells and slow the growth of viruses. In a laboratory study published in "Anticancer Research," one of these compounds from bitter gourd, a protein called MAP-30, slowed growth of cultured breast cancer cells and improved survival for laboratory animals with breast cancer. Another study published in "Current Molecular Medicine" found that the same protein reduced growth of the HIV virus responsible for AIDS and improved survival of HIV-infected cultured cells. The authors suggest that bitter melon-derived chemicals may be useful for HIV therapy, although more clinical research with human subjects is needed to confirm this.


Bitter melon might also reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the Cancer Center. Several compounds in bitter melon can move glucose from your blood into your liver and muscles, where it is stored. This helps lower your blood sugar, reducing the demand for insulin, the hormone that lowers your blood glucose after a carbohydrate-containing meal. In a clinical study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology," human subjects with Type 2 diabetes took either bitter melon or an anti-diabetes drug for four weeks. Subjects who consumed 2,000 milligrams of bitter melon daily showed a drop in their blood glucose that was about half of the decrease recorded by those who took the diabetes drug. These are promising results, although larger clinical studies are still needed. How to Use

Bitter melon may be available at some specialty food stores, and can be consumed raw or boiled and diced or mashed. Dried bitter gourd and bitter gourd extract are also available at health food stores. Although generally considered safe, do not consume bitter gourd or its extract if you are pregnant, since it might induce bleeding or contractions. Bitter gourd may also interact with some prescription medications, especially diabetes drugs. Do not consume bitter gourd in large quantities, since the seeds contain toxic compounds. Do not self-treat with bitter gourd. Discuss its use with your doctor to decide if it might be appropriate for you.

Juice of bitter melons can kill cancer cells

By Jo Willey

THE juice of bitter melons can kill cancer cells, according to research.

Scientists have found that the warty green fruit used in ancient Chinese medicine, restricts the ability of pancreatic cancer cells to metabolise glucose, cutting the cells’ energy source and eventually killing them.

Previous research has hailed the benefits of the unusual fruit which has been shown to contain natural chemicals which can help treat Type 2 diabetes.

Scientists discovered that it contains four bioactive compounds which activate an enzyme in the human body called AMPK.

The enzyme, also triggered by exercise, helps fat and muscle cells to use blood glucose effectively but is not activated properly in Type 2 sufferers.

Bitter melon extract has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, with no reported side effects.

Now, new research published in the journal Carcinogenesis shows that bitter melon juice could also be a powerful cancer treatment.

Rajesh Agarwal, co-program leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the University of Colorado Cancer Centre and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the USA said: “Three years ago researchers showed the effect of bitter melon extract on breast cancer cells only in a Petri dish. This study goes much, much farther.

“We used the juice - people especially in Asian countries are already consuming it in quantity. We show that it affects the glucose metabolism pathway to restrict energy and kill pancreatic cancer cells.”

Bitter melon has also been shown to regulate insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells.

After studies in cell cultures, the group showed that mouse models of pancreatic cancer that were fed bitter melon juice were 60 per cent less likely to develop the disease than controls.

Argarwal added: “It’s a very exciting finding. Many researchers are engineering new drugs to target cancer cells’ ability to supply themselves with energy, and here we have a naturally-occurring compound that may do just that.”

The Agarwal Lab is now applying for grants that will allow them to move the study of bitter melon into further chemoprevention trials in mouse models of pancreatic cancer.

Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or karela (in India), is a unique vegetable-fruit that can be used as food or medicine.

It is the edible part of the plant Momordica Charantia, which is a vine of the Cucurbitaceae family and is considered the most bitter among all fruits and vegetables.

The plant thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, including South America, Asia, parts of Africa and the Caribbean

The bitter melon itself grows off the vine as a green, oblong-shaped fruit with a distinct warty exterior - though its size, texture and bitterness vary between the different regions in which it grows - and is rich in vital vitamins and minerals.

How Good It Is To Consume Bitter Melon Regularly


Bitter melon is also generally known as bitter gourd, bitter cucumber, karolla and karela. Bitter melon or karela is loaded with essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins which should be consumed to live a healthy life. It is rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C, phosphorous and fiber.

Bitter melon is globally known because of its effectiveness in treating diabetes. It chemically comprises a compound that is quite definitely comparable to insulin and occasionally also referred to as p insulin. In addition, it has steroidal saponins called charantin, peptides comparable to that of peptides and specific alkaloids that economically control the level of sugar in the blood. If taken on a regular basis, it keeps the sugar level in check. Bitter melon is also a good digestive agent and helps in stirring the secretion of gastric juices. It is beneficial in stimulating the liver for secretion of bile juices which are very much essential for processing fats.

Updated: Friday, June 10, 2016, 9:59 [IST] Bitter melon is also generally known as bitter gourd, bitter cucumber, karolla and karela. Bitter melon or karela is loaded with essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins which should be consumed to live a healthy life. It is rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C, phosphorous and fiber. View Photos Benefits Of Bitter Melon (Karela) Bitter melon is globally known because of its effectiveness in treating diabetes. It chemically comprises a compound that is quite definitely comparable to insulin and occasionally also referred to as p insulin. In addition, it has steroidal saponins called charantin, peptides comparable to that of peptides and specific alkaloids that economically control the level of sugar in the blood. If taken on a regular basis, it keeps the sugar level in check. Bitter melon is also a good digestive agent and helps in stirring the secretion of gastric juices. It is beneficial in stimulating the liver for secretion of bile juices which are very much essential for processing fats.

It helps in the peristaltic movements and absorption in the intestines and hence it is very helpful in preventing gastric disturbances. Taking bitter melon juice also helps in the treatment of constipation, which is mostly caused due to a faulty eating routine and unhealthy dietary practices. Bitter melon is used to solve menstruation problems in women. Taken on a regular basis, it helps in regularizing menstruation cycles.It is also used in the treatment of sores, eczema, leprosy and large wounds.

It is used to cure high blood pressure, malaria, fevers and headaches. It has also shown great results in expelling worms and parasites in adults and kids. It is also effective against numerous viruses, herpes and HIV. However, bitter melon has many side effects. Hence it must be taken with caution. It should not be taken by pregnant women as certain chemicals in bitter melon can cause abortion.

Diabetes patients should monitor their blood sugar levels while consuming the juice of bitter melon as it can cause the blood sugar to drop very low and cause heart failures. Hence, it should not be consumed from two weeks from the date of surgery as it might interfere with blood sugar control.

Bitter may be better for diabetics

By Jojo Santo Tomas

It’s known as bitter melon locally, and sometimes bitter gourd, or bitter squash. Filipinos call it ampalaya and in Chamorro, it’s atmagosu.

Countries such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, India and the Philippines consume copious amounts of the gnarly gourd as a staple, for it grows well in tropical, temperate climates. In Guam, bitter melon is always in season, as long as the pests and gusty winds stay away from the vine fruit.

Asians realized the health benefits of this unique fruit long ago but only recently it seems, has America finally caught on. Since early 2013, the bitter melon has garnered stateside attention and been hailed as one of nature’s best weapons against diabetes, with at least three ingredients that supposedly help lower blood sugar.

Some people juice it, while others process it into a powder and make tea.

You’ll find references to it on popular health sites such as and, and even several diabetes self-management sites.

From a culinary standpoint it is certainly useful, offering a tannic balance to all the savory, umami and tart flavor profiles. It pairs particularly well with salty dishes, as the salt seems to draw out and eviscerate its least-redeeming properties. But then again, some people love that bitter profile. I suppose it’s kinda like betel nut in that sense.

I remember not liking it so much growing up. The exception was when my dad, the late Jose “Peping” Santo Tomas, would sautee thin slices with a little garlic and onion and add eggs to make a soft scramble. It seemed to kill some of that powerful bitterness, although I may have been swallowing without chewing to avoid the bitter aftertaste.

I’ve enjoyed a renewed interest in bitter melon over the last month. My mom, Rose, and I are both diabetic, so when she started pickling the gourd as she did growing up in Guam, it piqued my interest.

As a pickling ingredient, it’s downright perfect. It’s easy to clean and chop, it absorbs flavor well and it holds its crunch for days. Farmers must be doing well, for it is abundant at the flea market and at neighborhood vegetable stands for less that $2 per pound, and even stays under $3 per pound at popular grocery chains.

To choose bitter melon, look for fruits with deep grooves and prominent ridges. Its color should be a uniform dark green, because whitening at the ends is an indication that the fruit is older and going to seed. It keeps well in the fridge and once pickled, will keep for weeks.

That is, if you can stay away from it that long.

There are tens of thousands of diabetics out there just like me, just like my mom, and maybe perhaps, with the same taste for flavorful pickles.

Here are our recipes. Enjoy!



1 bitter melon, about 10-12 ounces, sliced thin

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 hot peppers, or to taste


In a large bowl, add sliced bitter melon and salt, stir and massage by hand, lightly squeezing the pieces to create a juice from the extracted moisture. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to mix thoroughly. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.



1 bitter melon, about 10-12 ounces, sliced thin

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fish sauce

Juice of 1 calamansi lime

1 teaspoon lemon powder

2 cloves garlic, sliced into thirds

4 hot peppers or more to taste


In a large bowl, add sliced bitter melon and salt, stir and massage by hand, lightly squeezing the pieces to create a juice. Drain and rinse lightly, and pat dry. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Goes well with salty foods, or as a healthy snack in between meals.

The Benefit of Drinking Bitter Gourd Tea

By Joanne Marie (Demand Media)

The bitter gourd plant, or Momordica charantia, is a tropical perennial that produces a fruit resembling a cucumber with a warty skin. Also called bitter melon or bitter cucumber, you can brew tea from the fruit, leaves and stems of the plant or use bitter gourd extract to make a tea. Bitter gourd tea has several potential health benefits, although you should discuss its use with your doctor to determine if it might help you.


The fruit and leaves of the bitter gourd plant contain several vitamins, including vitamins A and C and the B-complex vitamins -- water-soluble vitamins that are leached from the plant when you brew bitter gourd tea. Bitter gourd also contains a number of natural compounds with biological activity, including alkaloids, glycosides and triterpenoids. It also provides linoleic acid, an essential, omega-6 fatty acid and oleic acid, a healthy, unsaturated dietary fat. Compounds called vicine, charatin and polypeptide-P that affect how your body manages carbohydrate nutrients are also found in bitter gourd.

Blood Sugar and Diabetes

According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, bitter melon increases uptake of blood glucose by your liver, fatty tissues and muscles, stimulating these tissues to convert glucose into glycogen, its storage form. These changes tend to lower levels of blood glucose. This helps lessen the demand on your pancreas for insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar, and may improve your glucose tolerance. Overall, compounds in bitter gourd improve glucose management and might lower your risk of developing diabetes or help regulate your blood glucose if you already have the disorder.


Some of the compounds in bitter melon might also suppress growth of certain types of cancer cells, according to the Cancer Center, which cites several research studies suggesting this. In one study, published in "Anticancer Research" in 2000, researchers tested the ability of a compound from bitter gourd to affect growth of highly malignant human breast cancer cells in culture and in laboratory animals. They found the compound inhibited division of the cultured cells and suppressed expression of cancer-associated genes. In laboratory animals with tumors, administration of the compound extended survival times significantly. While promising, these results still need to be confirmed by trials with human subjects.


Dried bitter gourd and bitter gourd extract are available at most health food stores. You can brew bitter gourd tea by infusing dried leaves and fruit in boiling water for five to 10 minutes or by adding bitter gourd extract to preheated water. Although generally considered safe, do not consume bitter gourd if you are pregnant, since it can induce contractions. It may also interact with some medications, especially insulin or other diabetes medicines. If you are diabetic, do not self-treat with bitter gourd tea; talk to your doctor to determine if it might help you.

Beneficial effects of Bitter Gourd

By Irengbam Jenny (Zee Media Bureau)

Bitter gourd is a popular vegetable in some Asian countries and looks like a cucumber but with gourd-like bumps all over it. The bitterness of this gourd might turn some people away from it but it can really sweeten your health because it helps in preventing disease and health promoting phyto-chemical compounds.

Here are few health benefits of the bitter vegetable:

Eye problems: Bitter gourd is one of the finest vegetables which helps in alleviating eye problems and improving eyesight as it is high in beta- carotene.

Respiratory disorders: Drinking fresh bitter gourd juice mix with a cup of honey diluted in water daily helps in improving asthma, bronchitis and pharyngitis.

Energy: Regular consumption of bitter gourd juice improves energy and stamina level. It also stabilized sleeping patterns.

Hangover: Bitter gourd is also beneficial in the treatment of a hangover after a night of binge drinking. It helps to cleanse and repair and nourish liver problems due to alcohol consumption.

Immune booster: Bitter juice of bitter gourd also helps in building your immune system and increase your body’s resistance against infection.

Diabetes: Bitter gourd improves diabetic conditions as it decreases blood sugar levels and also has anti-oxidative properties.

Digestion: Bitter gourd helps in relieving indigestion and constipation problems as it stimulates easy digestion and peristalsis of food through the bowel until it is excreted from the body.

What you need to know about ‘Ampalaya’

By Henrylito D. Tacio

There is one natural weapon against diseases that can be found in your kitchen. It’s that wrinkly green vegetable with a distinctive bitter taste. Yes, you’re right, it’s ampalaya, known in the science world as momordica charantia and in English-speaking countries as bitter gourd or bitter melon.

In terms of nutritional contents, the fruits and leaves of the ampalaya are reportedly rich in minerals and vitamins. Here’s what said: “Containing only 21 calories for an entire fruit, ampalaya is a nutrient-dense food that has significant nutritional value at a low-caloric cost.”

Unknowingly, ampalaya is one of the best sources of vitamin C. “One ampalaya fruit contains 174 percent of the average daily requirement for vitamin C,” says. “Vitamin C has multiple functions in the body. It is a key factor in the synthesis of the protein known as collagen, a major component of the connective tissue, and also is a powerful antioxidant. Like other antioxidants, it helps safeguard the body’s cells from damage from the dangerous free radicals believed to play a role in chronic disease.”

Ampalaya is also one of the good sources of folate; it contains 22 percent of the average daily requirement for folate. Folate, called folic acid in its synthetic form, can help prevent spina bifida and anencephaly, also known as neural tube defects, or birth defects that impact the spine and the brain. Folate might be protective against strokes, breast cancer and colon cancer, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Fourteen percent of the average daily value for dietary fiber is present in one ampalaya fruit. Dietary fiber contributes to gastrointestinal health and the utilization of the nutrients in your food. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, fiber also might protect against heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis and some cancers.

Ampalaya is also a good source of carbohydrates, used for quick energy; vitamin A, critical to good vision; and the minerals iron, phosphorus and potassium. Like other vegetables, it is also free of cholesterol and fats.

In the Philippines, ampalaya is prepared into various dishes: it can be stir-fried with ground beef and oyster sauce, or cooked with eggs and diced tomato. A very popular dish from the Ilocos region is the pinakbet, which consists mainly of ampalaya, eggplant, okra, string beans tomatoes, lima beans, and other various regional vegetables stewed with a little bagoong-based stock.

“Commonly known as ampalaya in the Philippines, researchers refer to it as a vegetable, fruit, or herb,” wrote Frank Murray in his book, Ampalaya: Nature’s Remedy for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. “It is indigenous to Asia, but is cultivated around the world, where it goes by almost 90 different names.”

Yes, ampalaya has been considered as nature’s answer to diabetes. Today, almost 100 studies have demonstrated the blood sugar lowering effect of this bitter fruit. Dr. A. Raman and Dr. C. Lau, who reviewed over 150 pre-clinical and clinical studies on amplaya’s anti-diabetes properties and phytochemistry, concluded that, “Oral administration of fruit juice or seed powder [of bitter melon] causes a reduction in fasting blood glucose and improves glucose tolerance.”

In the Philippines, Dr. William Torres, former director of Bureau of Food and Drugs, came up with this conclusion after reviewing several studies done on ampalaya: “Ampalaya fruits, leaves, seeds and other parts, when used as dry powders, extracts, decoctions, fresh or cooled, have clearly demonstrated hypoglycemic activity.”

Researchers have identified the key compounds present in ampalaya, notably polypeptide-P, a plant insulin found only in the ampalaya. Similar to animal insulin, polypeptide-P lowers elevated blood sugar levels. Torres maintains that ampalaya, when taken regularly, helps to increase glucose tolerance and “potentiate insulin.”

Even ampalaya leaves have some blood sugar lowering effect among diabetics, according to Dr. Eduardo G. Gonzales of the College of Medicine at De La Salle University. “This effect is noticeable regardless of how the leaves are prepared—boiled then eaten, or in the form of extract, tea, capsule or tablet.”

However, most medical practitioners cautioned that those who have diabetes should not immediately replace their proprietary medicines with ampalaya teas, capsules or tablets. As Dr. Herbert Ho wrote in an article for a national magazine: “At this time, ampalaya, in whatever preparation [fresh fruit, tea leaves, capsules or tablets] is not yet a recommended substitute for standard medical care and standard antidiabetic drugs.

“No known side effect does not necessarily equate to no side effect, especially if the preparation is new,” Ho continued. “We need to wait for the results of the large-scale human studies. Patients are advised to discuss the matter with their physicians, especially with endocrinologists, who are specialists in the management of diabetes.”

As the bitter fruit is famous for its many medicinal attributes, there are also other unique ways in preparing mixtures, drinks or solutions made from ampalaya. Those with cough, fever, worms, and diarrhea are advised to drink a spoonful of grounded and juiced ampalaya leaves every day. For other health conditions, the fruit and leaves can both be juiced and taken orally. For wounds, burns and other skin diseases, the fruit’s warmed leaves may be applied to the affected area.

The fruit’s leaves are also used for children’s coughs and are utilized in the treatment of skin diseases and sterility in women. Like most bitter-tasting fruits and vegetables, ampalaya stimulates digestion and can be very potent in people with dyspepsia and constipation.

Just a warning: in large dozes, pure ampalaya juice can be a purgative and may cause pregnancy abortion.

10 Benefits of Bitter Melon That Makes It Even More Worth Eating

By Katherine Eion

Bitter melon, or Goya, is commonly used for beneficial health reasons. Bitter melon is also referred to as bitter gourd, Karela, or Balsam Pear. The melon has an extremely bitter taste, but it is a helpful food. Bitter melon is commonly added to stir-fry, or may be enjoyed stuffed. It may also be added to the diet as a supplement. In order to receive the full health benefits, find and cook the melon regularly.

Here’s some sweet information you need to know about this bitter vegetable:

1. Type II Diabetes

Some studies have shown that bitter melon lowers blood sugar through increased metabolism of glucose. Drink one cup daily. Try this recipe to receive the full benefit of the fruit. As with any changes to your diet, be sure you consult you physician. Stop use if you’re experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea, or fever. Monitor blood sugar regularly and adjust medications as necessary, with the assistance of your doctor.

2. Kidney Stones

A kidney stone is an extremely painful medical condition. Bitter melon can be helpful in ridding the body of kidney stones through naturally breaking them down. Bitter melon reduces high acid that help produce painful kidney stones. Infuse bitter melon powder with water to create a healthful tea. This tea has a nutty flavor and, surprisingly, does not require sweetening.

3. Lower Cholesterol

Help lower dangerous cholesterol levels with bitter melon. Reducing cholesterol significantly reduces heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. The added benefit is that bitter melon is completely natural in working with the body to prevent these health risks. High cholesterol can only be diagnosed with a blood test. Try Bitter Melon Delight to reap the reward of this surprising health benefit.

4. Pancreatic Cancer

One of the most surprising health benefits of bitter melon is its anti-cancer properties. Bitter melon has been shown to disrupt the production of glucose, potentially inhibiting the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Try these bitter melon juice recipes for a touch of variety and to reap the full health reward of this unusual melon. Bitter melon may also starve other cancerous cells in the liver, colon, breast, or prostate.

5. Skin Benefits

Foods or drink taken from this melon benefit the skin. Taken regularly, bitter melon is said to have a “glowing” effect on the skin and is helpful in treating acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Experience natural and soothing relief with bitter melon. Try bitter melon soup for relief of any of these skin conditions or for more beautiful skin. An added benefit is that bitter melon is a blood-purifying agent.

6. Weight Loss

As is common with most plants, bitter melon is extremely low in calories and very filling. Lose, or maintain a healthy weight, with bitter melon. Prepare stuffed bitter melon to enjoy this benefit.The same properties that aid against Type II Diabetes also assist in health weigh loss and maintenance. The melon is very high in nutrients, which is another reason it’s so beneficial in weight loss.

7. Liver Tonic

There are several benefits of regularly consuming a liver tonic. A tonic aids in digestion, improves gallbladder function, and lowers fluid retention. Cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, and constipation may be relieved with a bitter melon liver tonic. Drink a bitter melon juice at least once a day to enjoy the benefits. A liver tonic is also aids in weight loss, and may relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel system.

8. Carbohydrate Digestion

This is a very important benefit for those who have Type II Diabetes. Carbohydrates turn to sugar, and bitter melon metabolizes the sugars. Faster metabolism of carbohydrates means that less fat is stored in the body which leads to weight loss, and healthy weight maintenance. Proper carbohydrate digestion also aids in muscle growth and development. A Bitter Melon Stir-Fry is just the ticket for the many benefits of bitter melon.

9. Vitamin-K Source

1-bittVitamin-K contributes to bone health, blood-clotting, and is an anti-inflammatory. Those suffering from arthritis can experience lower pain and inflammation in the joints through increasing Vitamin-K. No-Fry Karela Crispies are a delicious way to add Vitamin-K to your diet. The addition of bitter melon satisfies your body’s daily nutritional need for Vitamin-K. Also, the addition of bitter melon is a great source for dietary fiber.

10. Increased Immunity

A healthy immune system is vital for fending off potential infections and diseases. Add this delicious and easily prepared Bitter Melon Stir-Fry for this added health benefit. Stop or prevent a cold instantly in its tracks while benefiting the digestive system. Prevent or curb food allergies, and get rid of yeast infections, naturally. An added bonus of bitter melon is relief of acid reflux and indigestion.

Bitter Melon Can Kill Pancreatic Cancer Cells and Treat Diabetes!

By Heather Suhr

Melons…people either love them or hate them. They come in four different varieties: benincasa, citrullus, cucumis, and momordica. Interestingly, some varieties are considered a vegetable rather than a fruit. The melon I know are honeydew and cantaloupes, which belong to the cucumis species.

Another type of melon, called the bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd, belongs to the momordica species. It’s a vegetable-fruit that has been used as food and medicine. It grows abundantly in the subtropical regions of South America, Asia, the Caribbean, and certain parts of Africa.

This oblong-shaped vegetable/fruit has a warty exterior with a distinctly bitter taste and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Scientific evidence has also shown that this food effectively fights cancerous tumors.

Pancreatic cancer was inhibited by 60% in treatment groups

Insulin encourages pancreatic cancer cells to grow and it has been discovered that bitter melons can regulate insulin levels to prevent pancreatic cancer over the long-term. A study led by Dr. Rajesh Agarwal at Colorado University evaluated four different lines of pancreatic cancer and the effects of bitter melons in mice.

In this study, mice were injected with pancreatic tumor cells and were randomly selected into treatment and control groups. The treatment group received bitter melon for six weeks, while the control group received water. At the end of the study, the results showed that bitter melon juice did not only inhibit cancer cell proliferation, but also induced apoptosis [cancer cell death].

Pancreatic tumor growth was inhibited by 60% in the treatment group and there were no signs of toxicity or side effects on the body!

Number of studies show success in treating diabetes

Pancreatic cancer typically appears after a person has diabetes for some time, so several researchers wondered if bitter melon could treat diabetes as well.

In the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers concluded that, “Bitter melon had a modest hypoglycemic effect and significantly reduced fructosamine levels from the baseline among patients with type-2 diabetes who received 2,000 mg/day. However, the hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon was less than metformin at 1,000 mg/day.”

In previous study, researchers discovered that compounds in bitter melon improved glycemic control, helped cells uptake glucose, and improved overall glucose tolerance. This study led to promising advancements in treating diabetes and obesity.

Other health benefits

Bitter melon has been used in traditional medicine to treat colic, fever, burns, chronic cough, painful menstruation, skin conditions, to heal wounds, assist in childbirth, kill breast cancer cells, and in certain parts of the world to treat malaria and viral diseases.

I have never seen or even heard of this type of vegetable-fruit, but now I think I will set out to find one. I curious about the taste, and the benefit it provides appears to be promising!

What Are the Benefits of Eating Bitter Gourd?

By Nicki Wolf

Bitter foods do not appeal to many people, but the bitter gourd is a common food in Indian cuisine. This vegetable, also known as bitter melon or balsam pear, offers a variety of benefits, both nutritional and medicinal. Bitter gourd is a good source of several vitamins and good for a low calorie diet. However, consult your physician before eating this vegetable as a treatment for any medical condition. Diet Friendly

Bitter gourd is a good choice for restricted calorie diets – a 1-cup serving of this vegetable adds only 24 calories to your meal plan. As this gourd is an acquired taste, you may not enjoy it just by itself. You can add it to soups and casseroles, but your total caloric intake would be greater. Bitter gourd is quite low in fat as well, containing 0.2 g per serving. Excellent Source of Vitamin K

A serving of bitter gourd satisfies your entire daily need of vitamin K. The vitamin K available in this bitter vegetable decreases your risk of excessive bleeding and contributes to the integrity of your bones. Taking antibiotics may leach vitamin K from your body, so eating foods like bitter gourd is a good choice to boost your intake.

Provides Vitamin C

Incorporating a bitter gourd into your diet increases your intake of vitamin C. One serving of this bumpy-skinned vegetable contains 54 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, which makes it a good option for blood vessel health due to its impact on collagen production. You need this vitamin to repair injuries, including bone breaks and skin lacerations. This antioxidant vitamin contributes to protection against free radical damage that may trigger some types of cancer and other conditions.

Contains Vitamin A

One serving of bitter gourd provides 28 percent of the vitamin A your body requires each day. You need the vitamin A in this vegetable to keep your mucus membranes and other soft tissues healthy, and it also has other benefits for your eyes. This vitamin helps prevent night blindness and cataracts. A study published in the April 2011 issue of the “Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews” correlates a vitamin A deficiency with blindness triggered by measles, so consider adding bitter gourd to your diet if you have this disease to avoid eye problems. Benefits for Type-2 Diabetics

Evidence in the March 2008 edition of the journal “Chemistry & Biology” indicates that properties of the bitter gourd may offer a natural treatment option for people with type-2 diabetes. Certain compounds isolated in this vegetable activate an enzyme known as AMPK, which helps to regulate glucose metabolism. This action helps diabetics, who have trouble converting glucose to energy, use the insulin they produce more effectively.

Ampalaya, the super vegetable

By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

Like the mighty coconut, the ampalaya’s inherent healing properties have made it one of the most essential crops to grow in the 21st century.

Ampalaya (Momordica charantia Linn.) is classified by the Department of Health as Halamang Gamot to help maintain normal blood sugar. The regular intake of ampalaya (fresh, cooked, processed), combined with a low-fat, high-fiber diet is the first defense against diabetes; one of the lifestyle ailments suffered by many.

Ampalaya contains lots of polypeptide B, a plant insulin, that opens up the cells in our system to absorb sugar in the bloodstream so it is converted to energy for the body. If the cells are not opened, sugar remains in the blood; thereby giving cause for diabetes to set in. Its anti-lipid properties combat not only sugar but fat as well.

Cancer cells love the sugar in the blood because it is what fuels them to spread. The phyto-nutrients in ampalaya ‘turn off’ the signal pathway in cells on a molecular level, and then ‘turns on’ the ‘switch’ to open up and collect sugar in the blood.

The solid fiber in ampalaya also aids in constipation, lowers cholesterol, and ultimately curbs cancer cells from spreading. One of the ways of processing ampalaya into a market-ready product is through ten hours of sun-drying prior to roasting which increases the anti-oxidant level of the finished product. It could also be processed into powder form and packaged as tea. The Charantia tea is the first product Mercury Drug carried for the past 15 years now, because it is the only marketed product containing 100 per cent ampalaya extracts and fiber.

HerbCare, the manufacturer’s of Charantia, source their ampalaya from ingredient-manufacturers, a group of entrepreneurs who buy the raw fruit vegetable from farmers and then process the same into the required by-product.

“Agrarian reform land recipients can plant high value crops, through crop rotation, in their respective lands, especially those that are not very big in size, so their periodic yields sustains them in the long run,” suggested Lito Abelarde, chairman emeritus of the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines (CHIP). Abelarde wants to show how ampalaya can help the Philippine economy, health- and money-wise; as a pioneer in the campaign.

CHIP started with 12 member companies. To date, the organization is comprised of more than 90 SMEs.

“Any herb with a market elsewhere, we should start planting now. Because creating a market for the by-products of that herb takes a long, long time to create, start, penetrate, and sustain,” he added.

Ampalaya is a super vegetable. It has seven times more zinc than malunggay, to heal wounds. It has eight times more folate (a type of Vit. B) and nine times more Vit C than spinach. It also contains lots of folic acid, a vitamin that if lacking in pregnant women will make babies born with defects in the brain and spinal cord.

Ampalaya has lots of varieties but those with the same scientific names bear the same properties and strength of efficacy. Do you know why Vietnamese women make it a part of their daily liquid intake? It is because the strong antibacterial property of the bitter gourd eliminates skin blemishes such as pimples and acne.

The virtues of this super vegetable, as well as the clinical studies pointing to its curative nature, will be highlighted in the forthcoming Patient Safety Congress where Iatrogenic (the improper use of medicine) as well as Polypharma will be tackled.

Drink bitter gourd juice for good health!

By Irengbam Jenny

New Delhi: Bitter gourd is a popular veggie and better known for its bitter taste. But have you ever thought of drinking its juice? Well, many would make faces while taking the name but one should have this bitter drink as it is full of essential nutrients and medicinal values.

Here are some health benefits of the bitter juice:

Good for digestion: Bitter gourd juice is good for digestion as it increases the production of enzymes. Regular consumption of this bitter juice helps you get rid of constipation.

Prevents diabetes: Though bitter gourd has many health benefits, it is mainly consumed for triggering the blood sugar level. Regular consumption of bitter gourd juice helps to prevent the rise of blood sugar levels.

Helps weight loss: For those who wants to shed those extra fat start having bitter gourd juice. The juice helps you reduce weight because of its high fibre, low carbohydrates and calories content in it.

Good for skin: Bitter gourd juice is good for skin as it helps to remove the fine lines from the upper surface of the skin. This juice also helps to prevents premature ageing.

Even though the juice of bitter gourd is bitter in taste, one should include it in their daily diet to prevent from many diseases.

Bitter melon fights cancer

By Cory Quirino

How and why cancer continues to ravage and extinguish the lives of millions worldwide continues to baffle medical experts.

Cancer cannot be stopped using one approach alone, so there is an urgent need to discover the right synergy of approaches.

Doctor with a mission

Dr. Robert J. Rowen has trained 400 doctors and cured over 5,000 patients. He is best known for helping pass America’s first medical freedom law. Because he has helped so many turn their lives around, he is regarded as a miracle worker.

Many of his patients suffer from terminal and deadly diseases like cancer or challenging health conditions like diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

Undaunted by the gravity of his patients’ condition, he passionately pursues a cure.

Dr. Rowen now helms “Second Opinion,” one of the most respected health advisories in the US, as he continues to treat patients with problems from cancer to autism.

So far, he has learned that:

•Cancer will not be beaten with one singular modality.
•The immune system must be strengthened through detoxification; the elimination of all heavy metal dental fillings; addressing infections; and the alkalinization of the body and the use of oxidative therapy like hydrogen peroxide IV, ozone therapy and multinutritional therapy.
•The consumption of juice from bitter melon (ampalaya) could help beat cancer.
•Rising star

This common vegetable fights cancer cells. For decades, bitter melon (Momordica charantia linn), which is indigenous to Asia, has been known as the best preventive measure and health aid against diabetes.

A member of the cucurbitaceae family, the Latin word momordicus means bitter. Charantia is Greek for “flower.”

Ampalaya looks like a cucumber with warts. It is not a good-looking vegetable, but it may save your life.

The fruit/vegetable’s bitter taste comes from the presence of:

Vitamin A, 335 mg
Vitamin B1, .06 mg
Vitamin B2, .03 mg
Vitamin C, .55 mg

Its chemical composition includes amino acids, alkaloids, lectins, polypeptides, momorcharins, aromatic oils, cytokins, fatty acids, vicine, sterol glycosides, triterpene glycosides and fixed oils.

Dr. Rowen says that apoptosis or cell death is the key to fighting cancer. Wayward cancer cells killing themselves is the ideal scenario.

The doctor had already reported the merits of resveratrol, green tea and seanol in helping patients recover.

Now he is focused on bitter melon.

“Bitter melon juice diluted to just 5 percent in water showed remarkable potency in severely damaging all four pancreatic cancer cell lines researchers tested,” he says. It has reduced the viability of two cancer cell lines by 90 percent and knocked off the other two lines by a staggering 98 percent after just 72 hours of treatment.

With all the available modalities versus cancer, one truth remains: The approach must be multifocal.

Nothing to lose

Studies of the potential of bitter melon extract in inhibiting pancreatic and breast cancer cells have been encouraging. Researchers in the University of Colorado Cancer Center introduced the extract to malignant cells in a laboratory dish and did the same to pancreatic cells on mice.

The result, published in the Journal Carcinogenesis in March 2013, showed that cancer cell destruction occurred.

Why not add ampalaya to your daily diet? You have nothing to lose; you even add to your health enhancement.

Morning tonic:
¼ uncooked, raw ampalaya
1 green apple
1 singkamas

Chop and place in a blender or juicer. Drink up. If you want the fiber, use the blender. This is effective for weight loss.

Daily salad:

Add mixed greens, 1/8 cup thinly sliced ampalaya (previously rubbed with sea salt), tomatoes and chopped green apples in a bowl.

For dressing: juice from 1 whole orange, ¼ tsp honey, 1 tbsp olive oil.

This week’s affirmation: “I replace bitterness with sweetness in my life.”

Love and light!

(References: “Ampalaya: Nature’s Remedy for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes” by Frank Murray; Oxford University Press 2013)