Bitter melon also known as bitter ground or balsam pear is a tropical fruit widely cultivated in Asia, South America and Africa. It looks more like a cucumber with an ugly gourd-like bump. Like the name implies this fruits is bitter flavoured. The unripe once are used as vegetables and as a remedy for diabetes. Bitter melon belongs the cucurbitacease family and its origin have been traced back to the Indian subcontinent and from where it began to spread.
Bitter melon contains a unique phyto-constituent that has been confirmed to have a hypoglycemic effect called charatin, which is more potent than the drug tolbutamide, used by doctors in the treatment of type diabetes to lower blood sugar level. It also contains insulin like compound known as polypeptide –P, which have being suggested as a replacement of insulin in diabetic’s patients. They are low in calories but dense with nutrients. Bitter gourd is an excellent choice of vitamin, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. Containing twice the calcium content of spinach, twice the beta-carotene of broccoli and twice the potassium of banana. It contains antiviral proteins, which has being shown to inhibit the AIDS virus in vitro (test tubes studies). The riped fruit have also shown profound effect on leukaemia and prostate cancer.
Health Benefits of Bitter Melon:
- Diabetes: The plant contains at least three known compounds that significantly lower the body’s blood sugar level. The plant’s phytochemical composition is a combination of steroidal saponins, charantin, peptides, and alkaloids that contribute to bitter melon’s hypoglycemic effects and has being shown to be potent in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It also contains insulin like compound known as polypeptide – P which serves as a replacement of insulin and has being shown to dramatically improve glucose tolerance without altering the blood insulin levels.
- Blood disorders: Toxemia and Blood boils are some of the blood disorders that can be remedied by bitter melon. To commence treatment, mix lime juice with your bitter melon juice and sip slowly on an empty stomach. You should see visible improvements within four to six months.
- Cholera: Bitter melon play a big role in the treatment of cholera. I have tried this particular remedy and recorded remarkable results. In the first stage of cholera mix together three tea spoon juice of bitter melon leaves and three tea spoon of onion juice and two tea spoon of lime juice. Gentle sip the mixture till cholera is gone.
- Hangover: Bitter melon juice can be used to nourish and repair liver problems due to alcohol consumption and also serves as hangover remedy.
- Heart Disease: Bitter melon helps reduce bad cholesterol levels which clog the arterial walls there by reduces the chances of heart attack. It is also known for its blood sugar lowering properties.
- Immune System: Bitter melon is an excellent source of antioxidant. Antioxidants helps to body to fight free radical damage and other dangerous compound released during cell metabolism. To strengthen your immune system, boil bitter melon leaves or fruits in water. Consume daily to fight against infections.
- Pile: To cure piles, I advise you mix three teaspoonful of bitter melon with a glass of butter milk. Take this mixture every morning on empty stomach. Within a month’s time you should see visible improvements. To speed up healing apply the paste of bitter melon plant over the piles.
- Psoriasis: Psoriasis and other fungal infections like ring-worn and athletes feet can be remedied by bitter melon juice. This is made possible through the inhibition of the activities of guanylate cyclase, an enzyme associated with psoriasis.
- Respiratory disorders: Bitter gourd, anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, expectorant and antiviral properties makes it ideal for respiratory health. Although there have been numbers of studies that has shown that it can be used to get relief from respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis and hay fever. For respiratory disorder, mix pure honey with bitter melon juice together and dilute in water. Drink this daily to improve asthma, bronchitis and pharyngitis.
- Liver Tonic: Drinking a glass of bitter melon juice daily can help heal liver problems. Try and do this for at least two weeks to see visible results.
- Acne: Consuming Bitter Melon can help remedy acne, blemishes and deep skin infections and other blood disorders like scabies, itching and various other fungal diseases. It can also help in easing digestion, because of its fibre properties.
- Gout: Bitter melon juice helps clean up toxic blood, improving blood circulation and relieves gout pain.
- Anti-Ageing: Bitter gourd is high in vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that fight and eliminate the free radical in the body. This process helps reduce wrinkles and slow down the body’s ageing process and protects the skin from damage by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): Bitter gourd contains several proteins that can inhibit HIV. These proteins known collectively as ribosome-inactivating protein are alpha- momorchardin, beta-momorchardin and MAP-30 (Momordica Anti-HIV Protein). The exciting curiosity in bitter melon for HIV came about when a group of academic researchers found two proteins in bitter melon which inhibited the HIV in lab test which are MAP 30 and Monorcharain. To add to all that evidence, a particular study published in the journal of Naturopathic Medicine also shows that bitter melon can be used in the treatment of the HIV virus
- Herpes: Herpes can be referred to as a group of virus diseases caused by herpesviruses, affecting the skin (often with blisters) or the nervous system, the MAP30 found in bitter melon can also be used by patients with herpes. A particular study conducted in 1982 show that MAP30 inhibited the reproduction of the virus, as well as reducing its ability to form plaques (patches of irritated skin).
- Skin conditions: Bitter gourd is widely used in ancient ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of various skin disorder, more especially scabies. To do this simple apply bitter gourd juice on the affected areas. Also in traditional Chinese medicine, bitter gourd is used in the treatment of dry cough, bronchitis and other throat related problems. The seed are also used topically for skin swellings caused by sprain and fractures and sore that are slow to heal
- Aids in weight loss: It might interest you to know that 100g serving of bitter gourd contains just 17 calories. This makes it a fruit to add in your weight loss diet. A particular study published in the journal of nutrition showed that consumption of bitter melon can restrict weight gain and body fat. Never the less it also helps stimulate the liver to secrete bile acids that are vital for metabolising fat in the human body
- Cancer Prevention: The antioxidants present in bitter melon scores a point in preventing free radical damage to the body. It has being known to be an anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic agent and various studies has shown the link between eating bitter melon and the prevention of tumor growth of cervical, prostate and breast cancer.
Personally for juicing its best to choose unripe firm ones and avoid those that have turned orange. Mind you, ripe once are excessively bitter. For storage, its best to store in the refrigerator. Note that keeping them with other fruits and vegetable will hasten the melon to ripen and become bitter due to emission of the gas ethylene. Personally I prefer to go for the small ones because I wouldn’t be needing much of the juice. Too much of it in a day can cause mild abdominal pain and diarrhea (am taking from experience)
- Diabetics taking hypoglycemic drugs may need to alter the dosage of these drugs if consuming bitter melon on daily basis
- Pregnant women should avoid bitter melon. Because the active constituent in bitter melon have been shown to stimulate the uterus and may cause preterm labor.
- It may also cause hypoglycemic effect in pregnant women, which can lead to untoward effects for both the mother and fetus.