Bitter melon is a natural remedy to keep diabetes under control. Insulin resistance and decreased production of insulin are mainly two causes of the elevated blood sugar level. Bitter melon works on both underlying causes.
Synonyms of bitter melon
- Bitter gourd
- Bitter squash
- Momordica Charantia
- Balsam pear
How does bitter melon work in diabetes?
Bitter melon has bitter and somewhat pungent taste. It has hot potency, light in digestion and produces dryness in the body. These are according to ayurevdic science in which bitter melon has been used for diabetes cure for thousands of years.
In other words, insulin resistance is a hindrance that causes reduced uptake of insulin by the cells. According to the above properties of bitter melon, it removes the hindrance that causes the resistance. According to Ayurveda, toxins accumulated in the body are due to unprocessed food particles that cause insulin resistance. In Ayurvedic science, these toxins are termed as the AMA. Bitter melon helps in digesting these particles and enhances uptake of insulin by the cells.
Research studies suggested that bitter melon possesses the quality of stimulating pancreas cells to produce more insulin. Due to this quality, bitter melon also works well in case of insulin insufficiency.
Research studies on bitter melon effects in diabetes
The hypoglycemic effect of Bitter melon is observed in one study in which 2 grams of bitter melon powder were used in some diabetic patients. However, the effects of Bitter melon were less as compared to modern metformin treatment. (1)
One third of diabetic patients use alternative medicines for the treatment in India and some other developing countries. The bitter melon is one of the herbal remedy used for diabetes mellitus. However, there is a lack of proper clinical research on the efficacy of the bitter melon in the debates, but some observations suggest the use of Momordica charantia as supportive therapy. (2)
Bitter gourd is a vegetable that can be consumed by diabetic patients for beneficial effects. It is one of the main ingredients in the management of diabetes in ayurvedic medicine. Water extract of bitter gourd is present in some proprietary ayurevdic medicines, including Diabecon and Hyponid.
A study conducted on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. In this study, researchers had found the Bitter gourd improves the overall health streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Bitter gourd also reduces urine sugar by 30%, according to the conclusion of the study. (3)
According to another study, bitter melon extract reduces blood sugar levels. Thus, it helps in blood glucose regulation. (4)
Bitter melon extract contains charantin, II3-hydroxycucurbita-5, Momordicine and 23- di-O-β-glucopyranoside. These bio-chemicals may responsible for the anti-diabetic effects of bitter melons. The crude extract contains charantin, which has hypoglycemic effect, according to various research studies. (5)
Side effects of bitter melon in diabetes
Generally, bitter melon is believed to safe as a food. But when it comes to medicinal use of bitter melon, especially, in the form of extracts of bitter melon, may cause adverse effects in the body.
Bitter melon effects in diabetes are yet under scientific review. In a study, bitter melon side effects were observed when bitter melon extract was used. The study also suggests that the extract contains some alkaloids and the structure of these alkaloids is similar to the insulin. However, the powder has mild to moderate effects in diabetes, but extract can have potent action and reduces blood sugar levels. The side effects didn’t yet observed in the humans, but in rats and mice, the extract can cause hypoglycemia or hypoglycemic coma. These results should be confirmed in other studies too. (6)
How to use bitter melon for diabetes in best way
If your insulin is not coming under normal levels with modern medicines, then there is a possibility of insulin resistance. Generally, both causes insulin resistance and insulin insufficiency are present in all patients at some extent. Therefore, bitter melon is effective in almost all cases with diabetes.
To enhance the action of bitter melon in diabetes, add three to four pinches of black pepper powder. It will boost the ant diabetic action of bitter melon and thus, lowers the blood sugar. This combination is very effective, especially, in case of insulin resistance.