BITTERMELON, Momordica charantia


Latin name: Momordica charantia

English names: Bitter melon or Bitter gourd

Sanskrit names: Karela

Medicinal parts used: Fruit and leaves

Bitter melon is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all vegetables.

It is also a popular vegetable in the cuisines of Asia and the West Indies. It is prepared in various dishes in the Philippines, where it is known as Ampalaya.

The original home of the species is not known, other than that it is a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in South and Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Therapeutic use:

  • In human studies, bitter melon demonstrates significant blood sugar control after food intake, and overall blood-sugar lowering effects.
  • Bitter melon stimulates digestion.
  • The leaves are brewed in hot water to make tea to treat malaria and diabetes.
  • Bitter melon has been used as a folk remedy for diabetes, colitis and dysentery, intestinal worms, jaundice, and fevers.
  • In Ayurveda, bitter melon is widely prescribed for gout, rheumatism and sub-acute disorders of the liver and spleen.
  • Various known therapeutic properties of compounds in the fruit include antibiotic, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antiviral, antidiabetic, and immune-enhancing properties, among many others.

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