The bitter gourd or bitter melon, may not be one of the most popular vegetables in the Europe and America. However, due to the know health benefits of bitter gourd, it has been one of the popular vegetables in the Indian Subcontinent. The vegetable is consumed in cooked form as well as raw. In raw form, people drink it in the form of juice. Please note that as the name suggests, bitter gourds are quite bitter in taste and may not be that palatable. However, the health benefits of bitter gourds are so many that sometimes people consume it as medicine.
There are many health benefits of bitter melon, some of them include immune boosting, purification of blood and enhancing digestion. You can learn about all the possible health benefits of Bitter Melons at Health Benefits of Bitter Melons.
Benefits of Bitter Melons for Diabetes
We recently saw and article on Diabetes Self Management in which an authored claimed the benefits of Bitter Melon for Diabetes. This was a first hand account of her own husband benefiting from the humble vegetable.
My husband was diagnosed with Type 2 four months ago… he had a blood glucose reading of 370. [The] doctor put him on metformin — 1,000 mg a day, which brought his blood glucose down to the low 200’s. So the doctor upped his meds to 2,000 mg a day.
Then someone told her about bitter melon tea, and she bought some at a local Asian grocery. He started drinking one cup of tea in the morning and one in the evening. The very next day, his fasting glucose dropped to around 80. He stopped his metformin and his fasting glucose levels have been under 100 ever since.
For anyone, who has his own father suffering from high blood sugar levels, this article was worth investigating. Therefore, I began my research.
We came across a lot of references in medical journals that confirmed the apparent benefits of Bitter Melons for Diabetes. Some of the have been listed below for your reference.
1) Trial of Momordica charantia Linn (Karela) powder in patients with maturity-onset diabetes (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6806502)
2) Clinical trials in patients with diabetes mellitus of an insulin-like compound obtained from plant source (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20078273_)
3) Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) reduces adiposity, lowers serum insulin and normalizes glucose tolerance in rats fed a high fat diet. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12672924)
4) Dietary seed oil rich in conjugated linolenic acid from bitter melon inhibits azoxymethane-induced rat colon carcinogenesis through elevation of colonic PPARgamma expression and alteration of lipid composition. (Source http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15170673)
Bitter melons for diabetes – How does it work?
Whenever someone eats any food the metabolism of glucose starts in the gut. Carbohydrates and sugars are digested to glucose. This glucose is transported into the blood. Bitter gourd effectively reduces the amount of glucose that is transported to the blood. This is accomplished by inhibiting the enzymes that break down your carbohydrates and sugars to glucose. As a result of this, there are possible benefits of eating bitter melons for diabetes, as bitter melons work by preventing high blood sugar levels post meals.
To learn more, watch this video:
Should you completely rely on this information and use only Bitter Melons (Bitter Gourds)?
While there are many studies that confirm the benefits of bitter melon for diabetics, there are yet a lot of scientific tests that need to confirm it. There have been some studies that refute it as well. A research published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology in 2007, mentioned that the study failed to show any benefits of bitter melon for poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Another clinical review published in the British Journal of Nutrition mentioned that better clinical trials are needed to confirm the benefits of bitter melons for diabetes.
A word of caution
There may be possible health benefits of bitter melons for diabetes, specially type II diabetes. However, we at Nature and Nutrition would strongly advise using the advise of your doctor before consuming such products.