Bitter melon has a long history of medicinal use in the East. It has traditionally been used for high blood pressure, skin infections, painful menstruation, kidney stones, colic, malaria, glaucoma, high cholesterol, diarrhea, stomach cramps, hemorrhoids and fever.
Bitter melon contains alkaloids, glycosides, peptides, acids, cucurbitins, charantin, cucurbitacins, momordine, momorcharins and proteins. It is believed that the main components responsible for the hypoglycemic properties are charantin, cucurbutanoids, momordicin and oleanolic acids. Recent scientific discoveries have been pointing to the hypoglycemic and anticancer effects of bitter melon.
Bitter melon and diabetes
Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica discovered the efficacy of treatment of type 2 diabetes with bitter melon.
Bitter melon contains certain chemical compounds that activate AMPK that stimulate the movement of glucose transporters to the surface of cells. “More transporters on cell surfaces” increase the absorption of glucose from the bloodstream in body tissues, such as muscles, which reduces blood sugar levels.
In the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the researchers concluded that “bitter melon had a modest hypoglycemic effect and reduced fructosamine levels significantly from the baseline among patients with type 2 diabetes who received 2,000 mg / day. The hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon was lower than metformin at 1000 mg / day. ”
Bitter melon and breast cancer
A new study by scientists at Saint Louis University found that the bitter melon extract triggers a series of events at the cellular level that prevent breast cancer cells from multiplying and killing. According to the principal investigator, “bitter melon extract modulates several signal transduction pathways, which induce cell death of breast cancer.” This extract can be used as a dietary supplement for the prevention of breast cancer.
Bitter melon can be eaten like a fruit, turned into a drink or added to your smoothies. Bitter melon extract is also available as an herbal supplement.