Last Modified on Feb 26, 2014
Can Bitter Melon Help Regulate Diabetes and Fight Cancer?
An old Chinese man who owns an Oriental grocery store passed on a tip the other day to one of his regular customers. The customer commented that he was beginning to have trouble controlling his diabetes. He had other chronic health problems and took so many medications that sometimes they interacted badly. The grocer pointed across the aisle to a strange-looking bumpy green cucumber-like vegetable and said, "You need bitter melon!"
What is Bitter Melon?
Bitter Melon is grown throughout Asia, Africa and the Caribbean for the edible fruit and medicinal properties. It can be stir-fried, creamed, used in a soup or as a tea. However, this is a very bitter vegetable and is definitely an acquired taste. Fortunately, it is available in tablets or extracts at health food stores or online. This vegetable is high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and low in calories.
Help Controlling Type-2 Diabetes
Bitter Melon contains two compounds believed to reduce sugar levels in those with type-2 diabetes, Polypeptide-P and Charantin. Polypeptide-P is a plant insulin. Charantin, on the other hand, helps the liver, muscles and adipose tissue lower blood glucose levels. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reported that Bitter Melon might lower the chance of developing diabetes or make it easier to manage for those who already have diabetes. As this bitter vegetable is eaten regularly by millions of people, it is normally considered safe. However, anyone taking diabetes medications should consult with a doctor before taking Bitter Melon. The combination of drugs and Bitter Melon could lower your blood sugar too much; the proper dosage has not yet been determined.
Exciting Cancer Research
The Cancer Center reported that Bitter Melon might slow the growth of some types of cancer cells. One study they mentioned was published in Anticancer Research. A compound was used to inhibit the growth of malignant breast cancer cells in animal and laboratory tests. This has not been tested in human trials.
Research on pancreatic cancer done by Dr. Rajesh Agarwal from the University of Colorado Denver and published in Carcinogenesis showed that Bitter Melon may cut off food and energy to the cancerous cells, killing them. Dr. Agarwal and his team used Bitter Melon juice because many Asians drink the juice daily. They made their own, using a 5% juice dilution with water. The juice was tested against four cell lines of pancreatic cancer and showed potent cytotoxicity against them all. One of the goals of cancer research is finding drugs that prevent cancer cells from getting the energy needed to survive and grow; this plant did that.
Bitter Melon has reportedly been used to treat fever, infections and menstrual problems. Laboratory tests have shown some success when using it to destroy cancerous T-cells, but there are no available reports of any clinical trials. Any medical use of Bitter Melon should be under a doctor's supervision; it should not be taken by pregnant women or children.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) has been a popular home remedy for many years in Asia. In the West, many take it as a supplement. It's also eaten in many favorite recipes and consumed as a beverage. There is little information available on recommended doses or treatment protocols.
Have you tried Bitter Melon for a particular ailment? Please send us your feedback on this fascinating vegetable!
Bitter Melon for Diabetes
11/18/2013: Bill from San Fernando, Philippines: "Hi Deirdre,
I read your article on Bitter Melon with particular interest. My partner is a Filipina and she regularly eats bitter melon or ampalaya (at least twice weekly) in soups and in stir fries with fish and vegetables. What's more, we grow ampalaya or bitter melon in our garden. I confess that I find ampalaya a very bitter and unenjoyable food to eat!! So my own way is simply to combine Tinospora cordifolia (known as Heart Vine or Heavenly Elixir) together with Chanca piedra for the same benefits and more. I recently harvested a large batch of Chanca piedra from my garden. I simply dried out this herb, cut it up into smaller pieces and stored it in a large sealed herb jar. Whenever I take it I either supplement this herb as a tea or decoction. This periodic regimen (together with other nutrients such as daily humic acid, alkalizing, dessicated liver, lugols iodine etc) seems to have kept me slim and trim as well as healthy.
I know the benefits of ampalaya well, since there is a blight of diabetes in the Philippines and all the the locals seem to make a good habit of eating this herb regularly in their diets. Ampalaya is useful against both diabetes and heart disease. But I would not recommend that you take it as a food -- better to make the juice and supplement it that way I think."
Bitter Melon Recipe
11/23/2013: Dr. Willy Holmes-Spoelder from Kaya Koyü, Fethiye, Mugla - T U R K E Y: "About BITTER MELON, (momordica)
1. Thank you for bringing this magical fruit to the attention of us, your subscribers.
2. I am a resident of Turkey, a Dutch citizen and a Metaphysical & Nutritional - Wellness Researcher/Therapist.
3. Yes and Yes and Yes, Bitter Melon is a wonderful fruit. and apart from Diabetes - BLOOD SUGAR I M B A L A N C E S, one of, if not the best natural medicine to assist every *mammal* to keep a certain *daily* wellness.
NOW: I know it is terribly bitter. For me *adopting* an acquired taste is not what I want to press upon my clients. I cannot *eat* it, so.... I found some ways to use it anyway, and with good results.
I came across it here in Southern Turkey, only 3 farmers then grew this fruit, one offered it to me - very expensive pro kilo I told him, bought anyhow, and then: ??? how to go about this with 20 or so of these fruits.
So - I dried the peel (thick juicy skin) and then ground it to powder. Then, meanwhile extremely *condensed*, you only need just over 1 pinch (between thumb/finger). On yoghurt, in a stew etc. and with those excellent health-improvement results.
Note: the dried powder (the fruit has to be 100% free of *muck*, i.e. very very clean, or else...) can be kept for years!!
So, that is 1 way to do something GREAT for yourself (apart from this being very economical) and you know exactly what's in your own prepared medicine.
The next thing I want to share is: the following.....still Bitter Melon...
Bitter melon has a lot of PIPS. So instead of throwing them away, again I thought: ?? what can I do with all of them.
1. I put half of my pips in a jar and added EDIBLE alcohol (roughly: 1oz= (27gr = 1 heaped tablesp) on 100 cc. I used the cheapest VODKA (medicinal alcohol not purchasable here)
Now - 5 years later that phytotherapeutic concoction, coolly, darkly stored is still active, fresh.
2. The other half of what I had - I DRIED - outside in fresh (oxygen-rich air) and I stored. Again it must be free of *muck* or else...invisble to the eye parasites could develope, which make your treasure then worthless.
Note 1.: The pips are coated with pinkish/red jelly, very interesting AND that!! Actually tastes deliciously sweet, to my earlier amazement .
Note 2. I have just GROUND a spoon of dried pips, low in the kitchen (like being out of ground pepper) and WOW, over 5 years old, superb and so.o.o. AROMATIC that I regularly sniff, not quite believing my luck I am sure, that I have such beautiful medicine, I make myself.
I encourage everyone to try doing good things like that. It is not that much work. You can also use an ELECTR?C oven at 75-80 C. until what you set out to dry is totally dry (and store as leaves/pips, grind later)
For instance: one bunch of CRESS = about a tblsp of ground-to-powder cress and *some* of this ADDED to----and you take in an amazing amount of NUTRIENTS, that subsequently easily DIGEST synergetically with, for instance protein or carbohydrates (yoghurt, milk, egg, cerials, noodles).
It is obvious, is it not - that I just *love* doing this, whereas I once used to buy and prescribe foodsupplements (costing a lot of money to start with, not even mentioning whether or not there is any quality of the purchase vitamin).
I (still) am a certified experienced Orthomolecular Medicine/Nutrition Consultant, but I never buy it myself these days.
Dr. Willy Holmes-Spoelder
83, Gemiler-Kanal Caddes, KAYAKOY Turkey, near Fethiye-Mugla-TURKEY"
11/18/2013: Ed2010 from Canada: "Hi EC,
Bitter Melon is part of South Indian cooking, at least twice in a week. Just an info. But they are fully cooked, losing valuable nutrients and don't have any medicinal properties. The two main uses of Bitter Melon are for parasites and Diabetes. Bitter melon kills the parasites and is a dewormer too. Bitter melon rejuvenates the pancreas thereby reversing Diabetes.
How to take bitter melon for Therapeutic Treatment:
Bitter Melon Juice
Take 1 long bitter melon, cut it and remove the seeds. Blend it in a juicer and extract the juice. Take 15-30ml once daily preferrably in an empty stomach.
If you take more juice, it can cause loose bowel movement.
Take it for 2 weeks, give a break for 1 week and again take it. Don't take continuously for more than 30 days.
Summary: Bitter Melon Juice is mainly good for digestion and the Pancreas.
EC: Thank you so much for the feedback and recipe, Ed2010!