Bitter Melon Fruit for Diabetes
Bitter Melon (karela)
Bitter Melon is one of the bitterest fruits known. It has a blood-glucose-lowering effect comparable to insulin.
Bitter Melon (Momordica chirantia) is also known as Bitter Gourd, Karela Fruit, Ampalaya, is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for its edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all vegetables. it is grown in South and Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Bitter Melon has been used for generations because it has helped to prevent and couteract sugar diabetes, that is Type-II Diabetes (late onset diabetes).
Recent scientific studies at JIPMER, India, has proved that Bitter Melon increases insulin sensitivity. Another study in 2007 the Philippine Department of Health issued a circular stating that Bitter Melon (also known as Ampalaya) was regarded as a scientifically validated herbal medicinal plant that can lower elevated blood sugar levels. The study reveals that a dose of just 100mg per kilo of body weight per day is comparable to 2.5mg of the anti-diabetes drug Glibenclamide taken twice per day.
Bitter Melon contains a lectin that has insulin-like activity. The insulin-like bioactivity of this lectin is due to its linking together of two insulin receptors. This lectin lowers blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and, similar to insulin's effects in the brain, suppressing the appetite, thus helping to counter the weight-increasing effects so often found in diabetics due to the suppression of the metabolism. This specific lectin in Momordica chirantia is likely to be a major contributor to the blood-glucose-lowering effect that develops after taking a regular doses of the fruit tincture and why it may be a way of managing adult-onset diabetes.
Gurmarin, similar to bovine insulin
Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) is a herb that helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps body functions operating normally. It contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela's principle constituents are lectins, charantin and momordicine. The fruits have long been used in India as a folk remedy for diabetes mellitus. Lectins from the bitter gourd have shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activities. The fruits and leaves of the plant contain two alkaloids, one of them being momordicine. The plant is reported to contain a glucoside, a saponin-like substance, a resin with an unpleasant taste, an aromatic volatile oil and a mucilage. The seeds contain an alkaloid (m.p. 236°) and an anthelmintic principle in the germ; they also contain urease.
Other medicinal uses
The fruits, leaves and extracts of Momordica charantia possess pharmacological properties and medicinal uses. It is useful as an emetic, purgative, in bilious affections, burning soles of the feet, as an anthelmentic, in piles, leprosy, jaundice, as a vermifuge, astringent in hemorrhoids, as a stomachic, antispasmodic, antioxytocic, hypoglycemic, antipyretic, mild hypotensive, anorectic and for the potentiation of ACh, histamine and BaCI2 induced contractions and inhibition of ACh of skeletal muscle.
Clinical Studies p-Insulin was tested in a controlled clinical trial. In juvenile diabetics, the peak hypoglycemic effect was observed after 1-8 hrs; in patients with maturity onset diabetes, maximum fall in blood sugar level was noted after 12 hrs. Karela or Bitter Melon has also been reported to show hypocholesteroemic activity.
It is not recommended to take this herb during pregnancy or during breast feeding.
Bitter melon is included in PancreasMore Tonic
Take herbal health tonics on a rotational basis (see PROST)
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General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.
Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.
Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.
A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.
A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.
Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.
The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
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