Health Benefits Of Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon

Bitter melon (also known as bitter gourd) and whose scientific name is Momordica charantia is considered as one of the bitterest fruits. Bitter gourd originated in India and is a tropical as well as subtropical climber. Bitter melon is known by diverse names in India based on the languages, the most common being the Hindi name, karela. 

Bitter gourd is one of nature’s most plentiful gifts; however, it is discarded by some because of its bitter taste, owing to a bitter compound known as momordicin. 

Bitter melon is a rich source of glycosides, alkaloids, saponins, resins, reducing sugars, free acids, and phenolic constituents. 

The immature fruit of the bitter melon can be eaten in a fried, deep-fried, pickled, or boiled form or drunk as a juice or tea. 

Let us now explore bitter melon health benefits

Hypoglycaemic Activity

Bitter melon contains copious amounts of bitter chemicals that are hypoglycaemic in action. Moreover, they improve blood glucose levels by increasing glucose uptake as well as glycogen synthesis in the liver, fat cells, and muscles. Bitter melon contains yet another bioactive compound (lectin) which has an activity similar to insulin because it efficiently links together two insulin receptors. Lectin successfully lowers blood sugar concentrations through its actions on peripheral tissues. In addition, it mimics the effects of insulin in the brain, successfully supressing appetite.

Antioxidant Activity

Antioxidant characteristics of carotenoids protect human beings from carcinogens and successfully mitigate the effects of free radicals that are associated with cardiovascular disease.

Antifertility Effects

Excessive consumption of the leaves and fruit of bitter melon can reduce the production of sperm. Bitter-gourd ethanol seed extracts have demonstrated powerful male antifertility effects, when administered to guinea pigs and dogs.

Antiviral Activity

Presently, a wide range of chemical components have been isolated from bitter melon, such as c-momorcharin. This eventually inactivates ribosome function and successfully stimulates production of MAP30 (Momordica anti-HIV protein). This, in turn, suppresses HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) activity.

Respiratory Disorders

As a remedy, a paste is derived from the leaves of the bitter gourd and tulsi plant. This paste, when consumed with honey every morning, prevents as well as treats respiratory disorders, such as asthma, common cold, pharyngitis, and bronchitis. 

Skin Diseases

To effectively counter skin diseases such as psoriasis, ringworm, and scabies, one cup of bitter melon juice must be consumed every morning on an empty stomach. This juice can be made more powerful by adding one teaspoonful of lime juice to it. Bitter melon is also used in preventing leprosy among the vulnerable regions in the world.

Blood Impurities

Bitter melon is used as a blood purifier because of its bitter, tonic properties. It can successfully heal boils and other blood-related issues that show up on the skin. For effective treatment, a cupful of juice of bitter melon must be consumed every day in the morning, with a teaspoon of citrus lemon juice added to it.

Antimicrobial Activity

The leaf extracts of bitter melon demonstrate antimicrobial activity primarily against bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Streptobacillus, Salmonella, and Streptococcus. Significantly, fruit extracts of bitter melon demonstrate positive effects against tuberculosis and the stomach ulcer-causing bacteria, which is Helicobacter pylon.

Antitumour and Anticancer Activity

A new phytochemical present in bitter melon has clinically demonstrated the ability to supress an enzyme called guanylate cyclase. This enzyme is believed to be linked to both the pathogenesis and replication of not only psoriasis, but also cancer and leukaemia.

These were some of the bitter melon benefits. 

On A Final Note

Most of the chemical constituents of bitter melon are known to treat conditions such as diabetes, stomach problems, pain, bacterial as well as viral infections, and life-threatening diseases such as cancer and HIV. Bitter melon can be used to prepare mouth-watering delicacies. In addition, bitter melon juice when combined with citrus juice can help in getting rid of skin infections and purifying the blood. That said, excessive consumption of the leaves and fruit of the bitter melon is known to inhibit the production of sperm. 


Dr. Deepa Kadam

Dr. Deepa has over 25 years of experience making her one of the notable medical professionals in the field of Ayurveda with expertise in Ayurvedic pharmacology.