Botanically known as Momordica charantia, bitter melon is recognized for its extremely bitter taste. The plant is commonly grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. It traces its origins to the Indian subcontinent.
Bitter melon has been a part of the herbal medicinal systems of Asia and Africa. It is used to treat many different disorders in Turkey, especially stomach disorders.
If you can overcome the bitter taste of this vegetable, you can reap the vast benefits that it has to offer.
1. Treatment of Type II diabetes and Type I diabetes
Drinking a cup of bitter melon juice is said to have an effect in lowering blood sugar levels. It is effective in the treatment and prevention of Type II diabetes, or insulin-independent diabetes. In this type of diabetes, the cells of the body do not respond to insulin properly and are thus known to be “insulin-resistant” Studies conducted rats and mice have shown that bitter gourd prevents or reverses insulin resistance.
In people suffering from Type I diabetes, the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin in order to regulate blood sugar levels. Research studies have shown that bitter gourd, when fed to rats, has been effective in increasing the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
An insulin-like substance has also been found in bitter melons, which has a hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) property.
Bitter melon consumption also helps prevent the complications of diabetes such as blindness, diabetic feet, kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke since it has an anti-oxidant effect.
We must remember that bitter melon cannot cure diabetes. However, it can definitely reduce the dosage of synthetic insulin required to manage the disease.
2. Dissolving kidney stones
Bitter melon consumption helps dissolve kidney stones so that they can be safely passed out through urine. It also helps reduce the acid content in the blood to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
3. Lowers cholesterol
Bitter melon can reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol in our body. The deposition of plaque on the walls of arteries is inhibited. As a result, the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes are significantly reduced.
4. Inhibits cancer cells
Researchers at the Colorado University Cancer Center have shown that bitter melon juice inhibits the growth of pancreatic cancer cells by limiting their ability to metabolize glucose. Thus, the cancer cells are unable to generate energy, leading to death.
Bitter melon juice has also been shown to suppress the growth of breast cancer cells grown in Petri dishes.
5. Acts as a liver tonic
The liver can be strengthened by regularly drinking bitter melon juice. Disorders such as constipation, cirrhosis of liver, and hepatitis can be prevented by bitter melon consumption.
6. Aids in weight loss
Bitter melon juice has very little fat and is rich in nutrients. In addition, it has a high fiber content that keeps the stomach full for longer. Its antioxidant properties help keep the digestive system healthy. Consumption of bitter melon juice helps flush toxins out effectively.
7. Lowers dietary carbohydrate digestion
Bitter melon reduces the amount of glucose released into the blood. This is accomplished by inhibiting the enzymes that break down disaccharides into monosaccharides. It also influences the transport channels for glucose, preventing the release of glucose into the blood stream.
8. Treats eye problems
The beta-carotene content of bitter melon helps improve eye sight and ward off eye troubles.
9. Treats fungal infections
Drinking bitter melon juice on a regular basis can relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and treat fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot.
10. Beneficial for skin and hair
Apart from the health benefits mentioned previously, bitter melon is also very good for skin. Due to its ability to purify blood, it is effective in the treatment of acne. Bitter gourd contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. It prevents premature ageing, appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and protects the skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
It can get rid of dandruff when applied as a hair pack, and soothe a dry and itchy scalp. It reduces hair loss and makes hair soft and shiny. Bitter gourd juice can also slow down premature graying of hair. Application of bitter gourd juice to the scalp can help reduce excessive oiliness.