Nature’s gifts that give hope to people who are facing with malignant diseases. This plant has long been used as a natural antidiabetic by some indigenous populations and recently it has been found to be an excellent cure for several types of cancer. Namely, scientific researches have also shown that the active ingredients of this plant hinder the metabolism of glucose in malignant cells and thus “starve” them, reducing their much-needed sugar. Saint Louis University Cancer Center experts have found out that the bitter melon fruit destroys breast cancer cells and prevents their further spread.
Bitter Melon – Momordica Charantia
Bitter melon, also known as karela, is a type of vine of the family Cucurbitaceae that grows in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. It is cultivated and used as food (most commonly in Eastern populations) and as medicine on all continents today. Bitter melon grows as a vine with long fragmented leaves and yellow flowers. Its fruit is elongated in shape and looks like a warty cucumber or zucchini. The young green fruits mature to orange-yellow ripe fruits, and as they ripen their yellow color becomes even more intense.
The ripe fruit breaks open in three parts and releases many red seeds.
Nutritional value of 100 g of fresh, raw bitter melon:
• Calories – 17 kcal
• Carbohydrates – 3.70 g
• Dietary fiber – 2.8 g
• Fat – 0.17 g
• Protein – 1.00 g
• Folate – 72 µg
• Vitamin K – 4.8 mg
• Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – 0.040 mg
• Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.040 g
• Vitamin B3 (niacin) – 0.400 g
• Vitamin C – 84 mg
• Potassium – 296 mg
• Calcium – 19 mg
• Magnesium – 17 mg
• Phosphorus – 31 mg
• Sodium – 5 mg
All parts of the bitter melon are very bitter and can be used for the preparation of food and medicines. Unripe fruits are rich in vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus, while ripe fruits are rich in glycoprotein (lectin), which in its activity resembles insulin (it helps reduce blood sugar). It also acts as an immunomodulator, that is, it boosts the immunity of cell functions and by doing so it kills carcinogenic cells in people with cancer and treats HIV-infections. Bitter melon contains many antioxidant compounds such as beta-carotene, flavonoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are proven effective in the fight against free radicals – main culprits of aging and the occurrence of various degenerative diseases. It is low in calories and high in vitamins (B1, B2, B3, C) and minerals (Magnesium, Zinc, Phosphorus and Manganese).
Bitter Melon – A “Bitter” Fighter against Diabetes and Cancer
Latest research has decidedly confirmed bitter melon’s power in curing carcinomas, HIV infections and diabetes, as well as its ability to help eliminate toxins from the body.
Bitter melon has long been used as a natural treatment of diabetes in the regions from where it originates, therefore, scientists have decided to examine its anti-diabetic properties. Three major compounds were isolated from bitter melon and identified as hypoglycemic agents. These are:
Charantin – a typical cucurbitane-type triterpenoid in bitter melon and a potential substance with antidiabetic properties. Studies have reported that the compound is more effective than the oral hypoglycemic agent tolbutamide.
Polypeptide-p or p-insulin – an insulin-like hypoglycemic protein, shown to lower blood glucose levels in gerbils, langurs and humans when injected subcutaneously. The p-insulin works by mimicking the action of human insulin in the body and thus may be used as plant-based insulin replacement in patients with type-1 diabetes.
Vicine – a glycol alkaloid. This pyrimidine nucleoside has been shown to induce hypoglycemia in non-diabetic fasting rats by intraperitoneal administration.
In addition, a four week clinical trial, conducted in January 2011 and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, showed that a 2,000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced blood glucose levels among patients with type 2 diabetes, although the hypoglycemic effect was less than a 1,000 mg/day dose of metformin.
The University of Colorado Cancer Center published its clinical study that showed successful curing of pancreatic cancer. The study was published in the journal Carcinogenesis in March 2013 and showed that bitter melon extract reduced glucose metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells killing them. Having considered the fact that bitter melon extract has a positive effect on diabetes type II, which often precedes pancreatic cancer, scientists have wondered if they could apply the extract directly to pancreatic cancer. In this study they proved that mice fed the bitter gourd juice had 60% less chance of developing cancer than the control group.
Another study, published on PubMed in February 2010, showed that bitter melon extract (BME) can effectively cure breast cancer. Here are the study’s findings:
BME treatment of breast cancer cells resulted in a significant decrease in cell proliferation and induced apoptotic cell death. Apoptosis of breast cancer cells was accompanied by increased poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and caspase activation. Subsequent studies showed that BME treatment of breast cancer cells inhibited survivin and claspin expression. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis suggested that MCF-7 cells treated with BME accumulated during the G2-M phase of the cell cycle. Further studies revealed that BME treatment enhanced p53, p21, and pChk1/2 and inhibited cyclin B1 and cyclin D1 expression, suggesting an additional mechanism involving cell cycle regulation. Together, these results show that BME modulates signal transduction pathways for inhibition of breast cancer cell growth and can be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer.
There are other numerous studies that confirm the effects of bitter melon in curing prostate, liver and colon cancer among other cancer types.
Note: Bitter melon is not safe for children or for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Be sure to consult your doctor before using any natural remedies.