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Bitter Melon and Diabetes

Bitter Melon and Blood Sugar

Common Names: bitter melon, papailla, melao de sao caetano, bittergourd, balsam apple, balsam pear, karela, k'u kua kurela, kor-kuey, ku gua, pava-aki, salsamino, sorci, sorossi, sorossie, sorossies, pare, peria laut, peria

Bitter melon grows in tropical areas, including parts of the Amazon, east Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, and is cultivated throughout South America as a food and medicine. It's a slender, climbing annual vine with long-stalked leaves and yellow, solitary male and female flowers borne in the leaf axils. The fruit looks like a warty gourd, usually oblong and resembling a small cucumber. The young fruit is emerald green, turning to orange-yellow when ripe. At maturity, the fruit splits into three irregular valves that curl backwards and release numerous reddish-brown or white seeds encased in scarlet arils. The Latin name Momordica means "to bite," referring to the jagged edges of the leaves, which appear as if they have been bitten. All parts of the plant, including the fruit, taste very bitter.

Important Research and opinions on Bitter Melon and diabetes.

Bitter Melon hypoglycemic events
Derived from the fruit and seed of the tree. Bitter melon has been used to treat diabetes, cancer, viral infections, and immune disorders. Data suggest that a significant hypoglycemic effect occurs in both healthy and diabetic patients. However, bitter melon should not be used in place of mainstream therapies. In vitro and animal studies indicate antiviral activity against HIV and herpes, cytotoxic effects against leukemic cells, and cytostatic effects in breast cancer, but related human studies have not been conducted. Children and pregnant women should not use bitter melon because of its potential toxicity. Reported adverse effects include hypoglycemia and hepatotoxicity. There is a potential for additive effect when bitter melon is combined with insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents. A clinical trial demonstrated no effect on natural killer cell activity in cervical cancer patients

Bitter Melon Produces Sweet Results For Diabetes
Scientists have uncovered the therapeutic properties of bitter melon, a vegetable and traditional Chinese medicine, that make it a powerful treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Teams from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica pulped roughly a tonne of fresh bitter melon and extracted four very promising bioactive components. These four compounds all appear to activate the enzyme AMPK, a protein well known for regulating fuel metabolism and enabling glucose uptake. "We can now understand at a molecular level why bitter melon works as a treatment for diabetes," said Professor David James, Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at Garvan. "By isolating the compounds we believe to be therapeutic, we can investigate how they work together in our cells."
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Bitter Melon effects
Bitter melon contains an insulin-like polypeptide that has the following effects:

  • inhibits glucose absorption
  • promotes glucose utilization in the liver
  • increases pancreatic insulin secretion

Ongoing trials are finding promising results on mice regarding improvement in diabetic neuropathy, enteropathy and cataracts, too.
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Legitimate compounds in bitter melon that do help move glucose into cells.
A study that appeared in this month's online issue of Chemistry and Biology, has isolated four compounds in bitter melon that activate an enzyme that is responsible for regulating metabolism and transporting glucose from the blood into the cells.
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