Bitter melon whole plants, especially seeds and fruits, in addition to cooking, is also widely used in folk medicine around the world, is considered to have antiviral, antibacterial and immunomodulatory effects, and is used to treat dysmenorrhea, eczema, gout, jaundice, leprosy, hemorrhoids, pneumonia, psoriasis, rheumatism, scabies and other diseases.
In empirical medicine, what are the benefits of bitter melon? Are there any side effects of bitter melon? See discussed in the text for details
What is bitter melon?
Bitter melon is an annual or perennial dioecious climbing plant, 2-3 meters tall, belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, the fruit is oblong, there are various shapes and sizes, the young fruit is emerald green, when ripe it is orange-yellow, with a pronounced wart-like appearance.
Its genus name “Momordica” comes from the Latin word meaning “bite”, meaning its leaves have jagged edges that look as if it has been bitten, while the species name “charantia” comes from the Greek word meaning “beautiful flower”.
Today, bitter melon is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions such as India, Malaya, China, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and other places.
Bitter melon has high nutritional value
Nutritional analysis showed that bitter melon is rich in carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and the crude protein content (11.4 g to 20.9 g per kg) is also higher than that of tomatoes and cucumbers, making it the highest nutritional value among melons.
In addition, bitter melon is also rich in plant antioxidants: anthocyanin, carotene, charantin, flavonoids, quercetin, luteolin, sterols, daucosterol, terpenoids. and cucurbitane-triterpene compounds known for their bitterness and antioxidant properties.
What are the benefits of bitter melon?
1. Improve type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a state of hyperglycemia due to insulin resistance, decreased insulin production, and pancreatic cell failure.
In addition to predisposing to traditional vascular complications, there is increasing epidemiological evidence that long-term hyperglycemia may be associated with various degenerative diseases, such as cognitive dysfunction, depression, dyskinesia, falls, and urinary incontinence
The current global prevalence of diabetes among adults (20 – 79 years) is around 8.3% (382 million people), with most age ranges between 40 and 59 years, and by 2035, this number is expected to exceed 592 million.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (10 studies, 1045 people with type 2 diabetes) showed that oral bitter melon preparations (containing unripe fruits, seeds, or pulp at doses of about 2 to 4 g for 4 weeks) improved fasting blood glucose (FPG), postprandial blood glucose (PPG), and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels. Note 1
The mechanism behind it may be related to the insulin-like effect of charantin, polypeptide-p, and vicine contained in bitter melon, which increases insulin secretion, improves tissue glucose uptake and hepatic muscle glycogen synthesis, and reduces glucose absorption.
*Conclusion: For type 2 diabetes, the use of bitter melon preparations may be helpful for glycaemic control, but due to high risk of bias and insufficient sample size, more trials are needed to confirm its efficacy and safety
2. Improve osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative joint disease, affecting more than 25% of people over the age of 18.
Visible pathological changes include progressive loss and destruction of articular cartilage, thickening of subchondral bone, osteophyte formation, synovial inflammation, meniscal degeneration of ligaments and knees, and capsular hypertrophy.
While there are many risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis, including joint damage, obesity, genetics, sex, and joint shape and alignment, however, the most significant risk factor is increasing with age.
A single-blind randomized controlled trial (3 months, 75 patients with primary knee osteoarthritis) pointed out that compared with placebo, oral bitter melon extract capsules can reduce body weight, body mass index, fasting blood sugar, and improve osteoarthritis symptoms and quality of life (measured by Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score and EQ-5D-3L Health questionnaire). and reduce the use of anti-inflammatory painkillers. Note 2
*Conclusion: For patients with primary knee osteoarthritis, bitter melon supplementation may reduce pain, improve symptoms and increase quality of life, but limited by small sample sizes, more large trials are needed to support this
3. Improve metabolic syndrome
The term metabolic syndrome originated in 1920, when Kylin the Swedish physician confirmed the relationship between high blood pressure, high blood sugar and gout.
It is currently believed that metabolic syndrome is a chronic, low-grade inflammatory state caused by a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors, so the term is not a diagnosis of the disease.
The main pathological manifestations of metabolic syndrome are: insulin resistance, increased visceral fat, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, endothelial dysfunction, increased blood pressure, hypercoagulation status, and increased oxidative stress.
An open-label trial with no control (3 months, 42 adults) showed that oral administration of Bitter Melon Extract reduced the incidence of metabolic syndrome and waist circumference, and at the end of the fourth month, the difference was still significant. Note 3
*Conclusion: Ingestion of bitter melon preparation may be of positive help in improving metabolic syndrome, but limited by the small sample size and the absence of a control group, more large randomized controlled trials are still needed to support it
4. Prevent and fight cancer
Cancer encompasses more than 100 different diseases, with different risk factors and epidemiological profiles, characterized by relatively unrestricted proliferation of cells, which can invade normal tissue boundaries and metastasize to distant organs.
Among noncommunicable diseases, cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease, more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Globally, cancer deaths are expected to increase from 7.1 million in 2002 to 11.5 million in 2030.
In cell and animal tests, it has been found that the active ingredient of bitter melon can achieve anti-cancer effects by regulating cell signals and pathways, cell cycle regulatory proteins and apoptosis-related proteins related to a variety of cancers. Note 4
*Conclusion: Bitter melon and its active ingredients may have tumor chemoprevention and anti-cancer effects, but there is still a lack of relevant human trials and need to be further verified
What are the sides effects of bitter melon?
For most adults in good health, bitter melon is safe when consumed as part of a healthy diet and in moderation.
The side effects of consuming bitter melon health food have been reported: gastrointestinal discomfort (such as abdominal pain, diarrhea) and headache.
Safety precautions (5 contraindications to use)
1. Bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, or are taking medication to lower your blood sugar, bitter melon may make your blood sugar too low, be sure to be careful or check with your doctor before use.
2. Do not use pregnant and lactating women, because some chemicals in bitter melon seeds have been found in animal tests to inhibit embryonic development and cause animal abortion. Note 6
3. In animal tests, it has been found that high doses of bitter melon seed extract (800 mg dry matter/kg) may have adverse effects on vas deferens, epididymis and testosterone levels, and cause impaired reproductive ability in male animals. Note 7
4. Patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDD, commonly known as fava beanism) should not use, which may induce fava bean disease symptoms (symptoms such as: anemia, headache, fever, stomach pain and coma), which is caused by the glycoside (vicine) component contained in bitter melon seeds
5. In the case report, there were cases of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in adolescents with no history of cardiovascular disease after drinking bitter melon juice for several consecutive days. Note 5
Where can I buy the highest quality bitter melon that is recommended by most people?
Himalaya, Organic Bitter Melon, 60 Caplets
(Direct shipping from the United States / Worldwide delivery)
Himalaya is a health care brand established for nearly 90 years, specializing in the research and development of herbal health products, which is well received in major channels