Thursday, September 24, 2015
Info reposted from url
TAGS: BITTER MELON, DIABETES, FAMILY: CUCURBITACEAE, HEALTH BENEFITS, HYPOGLYCEMIC,MOMORDICA CHARANTIA, WOUND HEALING
500 years ago African slaves arrived to America, bringing not only a rich cultural heritage and their traditional folklore but also herbs and fruits that rapidly propagated in America and became with the pass of the years part of their own culinary and cultural heritage.
Bitter melon is one of them. Additionally, bitter melon has also become part of some traditional remedies due to the multiple properties and health benefits that it exerts. Image: See credits under ref.  below.
Common name: Bitter melon, bitter gourd or bitter squash, Pavakai in Tamil, Karela in Urdu.
When African slaves arrived to America, back in the 15th century, their access to medical resources and therapies was very limited, they had to rely in their own “traditional herbal remedies”.
Some of these cultural beliefs and traditional practices were more effective than others, but almost all of them were based on years of experience accumulated addressing medical conditions and ailments that were treated by their African ancestors using medicinal herbs and plants that serve for the purpose.
One of these plants is Momordica charantia (Bitter melon), also known as bitter melon, bitter gourd or bitter squash, Pavakai in Tamil, Karela in Urdu , that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, a family that also includes squashes, melons and gourds .
500 years ago African slaves used herbs as Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) without knowing why they exerted these medicinal effects.
Bitter melon was used back then to treat illnesses as diabetes and malaria, not knowing whichactive constituents from Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) could be the ones exerting these beneficial properties, maybe not even knowing that Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) contained any active constituents at all.
Now, 500 years later, the estate of technical development has achieved quite an advance, being able to identify the active constituents responsible for the medicinal properties exerted by Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), and also identifying many others exerting even more beneficial properties for other illnesses and ailments, some of them as important as leukaemia and cancer. Let's see some of those.
The use of Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) for diabetes has been reported in the Ayurvedic and Chinese systems of medicine , but only explained since recently by scientists, who discovered some active constituents present in Bitter melon that was able to act on a similar way as insulin, with the only difference that insulin stops the use of fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon  and Bitter melon inhibits key carbohydrate hydrolysing enzymes as α-amylase and α-glucosidase [10,11].Image right: Momordica charantia by Kazuhiro Keino under Creative Common license (CC BY 2.0).
The study showed how Bitter melon exerted a hypoglycemic action and could be studied as an alternative nutritional therapy in the management of diabetes , in fact Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is used as anti-diabetic plant because of its hypoglycemic effect .
Studies have shown that Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) repairs damaged β-cells, increases insulin levels, and also enhance the sensitivity of insulin .
From the active constituents found in Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) thought to exert these hypoglycemic properties, namely charantin, momordenol and momordicilin, the study showed that momordicilin was found as the most active compound in the respective target site .
Karela (Momordica charantia) contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin and has been shown in clinical studies to achieve a strong sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural responses to sweet taste stimuli [24,25].
Other commonly used supplements making use of the hypoglycemic effects include emblica officinalis (gooseberry), fenugreek, green tea, and cinnamon , this last one used in many diets including teas of honey and cinnamon.
Wound healing is a very complex process that requires different phases to take place in order, from haemostasis, to inflammation, proliferation and finally remodeling. In diabetic patients wound healing is grossly impaired and results many times in chronic wounds failing to heal.
Some herbs as Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), Aloe vera, Calotropis procera, Portulaca oleracea, Acalypha langiana, Plagiochasma appendiculatum have been subject of study .
In studies done in diabetic rats, the application of Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) extract improved and accelerates the process of wound healing in diabetic animals [17,18].
Eleven active constituents isolated from Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), including two new cucurbitanetype triterpene glycosides, one new sterol, were tested for their Cytotoxicity activities against lung cancer cell line A549, glioblastoma cell line U87, and hepatoma carcinoma cell lineHep3B.
Two of them exhibited significant cytotoxic activities against cancer cells two new cucurbitane-type triterpene glycosides, one new sterol .
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in the United States.
One of the approaches to control breast cancer is prevention through diet, which inhibits one or more neoplastic events and reduces cancer risk .
As part of this approach some herbs, fruits and vegetables have been subject of study among scientists and researchers.
In some cases, as for example with the use of Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) extracts, the resulsts of these studies have demonstrated certain effectiveness against breast cancer cells, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines, and the treatment of breast cancer cells resulted in a significant decrease in cell proliferation and apoptotic cell death, suggesting that the use of Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) can be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer . Image left: Bixa by Kazuhiro Keino under Creative Common license (CC BY 2.0).
In another study, ribonucleases from Bitter gourd seeds reported also certain anti-cancer properties in some studies . One of these studies, done on the effects of Ribonucleases from Bitter gourd seeds on breast cancer cells, showed that this plant may be a potential agent that could be exploited as a new worldwide agent against breast cancer .
Eleostearic acid (alpha-ESA) is a conjugated linolenic acid that makes up approximately 60% of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) seed oil.
As studies on the subject showed that a water extract from bitter melon was able to inhibit breast cancer MDA-MB-231 and MDA-ERalpha7 human breast cancer cells, the alpha-ESA acid was also subject of study. The results showed that Eleostearic acid (alpha-ESA) can block breast cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis .
BITTER MELON SIDE EFFECTS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: As with other herbs, plants, fruits and vegetables, bitter melon can interact with many physical conditions, as for example lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics (Hypoglycemia), toxicity from the seeds.
It should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women as it can cause bleeding. The information presented in this website is for informational purposes.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the button of this page for more info.