Bitter Melon Momordica charantia
This strange -looking, warty fruit has recently gained popularity for it’s impressive results in treating Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes mellitus). It is also known as bitter gourd, bitter squash, karela (hindi), Mormordica charantia (latin) and balsam pear. It’s fruit is used for the treatment of diabetes and related conditions among the indigenous populations of Asia, South America, India and East Africa. You have probably guessed by now that this fruit has a bitter taste. It is indeed very bitter and slightly pungent.
Bitter melon has a long history of use in India. Ayurvedic medicine (India’s traditional holistic medicine system) prizes bitter melon for it’s strong bitter taste. Taste is one of the most important factors in ayurveda. It is believed that all 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) should be included in the diet daily for optimum health. Bitter taste is often overlooked in the west. We are obsessed with sweet, sour and salty tasting foods. Bitter melon is sold in Indian marketplaces to be cooked into curries or fried with spices, making dishes combining bitter taste with the traditional salty and pungent Indian flavors. It is surprisingly delicious!
Bitter melon is a natural remedy to keep Type 2 diabetes under control. Insulin resistance and decreased production of insulin are two main causes of elevated blood sugar levels. Bitter melon works on both underlying causes.
Insulin resistance is a hindrance that causes reduced uptake of insulin by the cells. According to Ayurvedic medicine, it is the accumulation of toxins in the body that causes insulin resistance. Bitter melon helps in digesting unprocessed food particles and removing toxins from the blood, enhancing uptake of insulin by the cells.
Research studies propose that consuming bitter melon stimulates the pancreatic cells to produce more insulin. Thus, bitter melon works well in cases of insulin insufficiency. According to another study, bitter melon reduces blood sugar levels, helping in blood glucose regulation.
*Taking bitter melon along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely and/or consult with your doctor if you take diabetes medications.
Bitter is Better
Ayurveda suggests that incorporating bitter tasting foods and herbs into the diet stimulates the gall bladder to produce and excrete bile, therefore enhancing the digestion of fats and proteins. Also, having bitter foods can curb your sweet cravings. There is a saying in Ayurveda “bitter is better.” Traditional Western herbal medicine has a similar saying, “Bitter to the tongue, then sweet to the stomach.”
Bitter Melon is extremely nutritious! It contains vitamins A, B-complex (B-1, B-2, B-3), Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Bitter melon contains substantial amounts of calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and folate. The medicinal value of bitter melon has been attributed to its high antioxidant properties, which create the bitter taste of Momordica. This healing super food is beneficial in treating jaundice, fevers, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is considered to be an alterative, a substance that aides the body in the removal of metabolic waste. A great addition to a cleansing and/or fasting program. Bitter Melon has anticancer, anti-inflammation, antivirus, and cholesterol lowering effects. It is also a galactagogue, meaning it stimulates the flow of breast milk in new mothers.
How to Take Bitter Melon
Cut/dried bitter melon is available at the Happy Herb Shop. Infuse into tea by pouring 1/2 cup of boiled water over 1 teaspoon of dried bitter melon. Cover with a lid and steep for 5 minutes. Adding sweetener is not suggested, as it is important to experience the bitter taste in order to get the full benefits of bitter melon.
Fresh bitter melon is available at most Indian or Asian grocery stores. Bitter melon grows well in any climate where cucumbers are grown. If fresh bitter melon is available to you, try juicing or cooking this healing fruit.
Process bitter melon through juicer. Take 10-12 milliliters of juice up to 3 x/day.
Bitter melon is prepared in traditional dishes of India and Thailand.
Fried Bitter Melon Recipe
3 Tablespoons ghee or sunflower oil
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 cup chopped bitter melon
Heat ghee or oil in cast iron pan or wok. Add curry powder, cumin, coriander, stir, and simmer for one minute. Add bitter melon. Stir and saute’ until bitter melon browns and becomes slightly crispy at the edges. Remove from heat. Add salt to taste. Serve with rice and yogurt.
For further information, click on the link below for a scientific study on the use of Bitter Melon in Type 2 Diabetes