Bitter Gourd : Medicinal Uses and for Diabetes Treatment
Morphology and Distribution of Bitter Gourd:
The Botanical Name of Bitter Gourd is Momordica charantia that belongs to the Family Cucurbitaceae.
The bitter gourd plant is a climber. The stem of bitter gourd plant is slender pubescent with suborbicular leaves, the flowers are single and pale.
Fruits are long, pendulous, fusiform, beaked and ribbed with many tubercles. The seed is brown coloured, long and compressed in bulb of fruit.
The plant is cultivated in the hot season and it is available as a vegetable in the Indian market. The useful parts of the plant are roots, leaves and fruits.
Synonyms of Bitter Gourd:
- Hindi – Karela
- English – Bitter Gourd
- Sanskrit – Karavella
- Bengali – Karela
- Marathi – Karle
- Kannada – Hagal
- Tamil – Pakal, Pavakka
- Malayalam – Kaippakaya
Phytochemicals in Bitter Gourd:
The different chemicals which are present in the bitter gourd are bitter glycosides, alkaloids, saponins, reducing sugars, phenolics, free acids, polypeptides, sterols, 17-amino acids including methionine and crystalline products named as p-insulin. Vitamins B1, B2 and C are also present. Minerals like calcium, iron, copper, phosphorous and potassium are also present.
Properties of Bitter Gourd:
- Hypoglycemic property – Reduces sugar in the blood
- Astringent – Arrests secretion
- Anti-haemorrhoidal – Prevents or arrests bleeding
- Stomachic – Promotes digestion or improves appetite
- Emmenagogue – Induces menstruation
- Galactogogue – Promotes lactation
- Hepatic stimulant
- Anthelmintic – Destroys worms
- Blood purifier
Forms of use of Bitter Gourd:
Bitter Gourd is taken in the form juice, decoction and powder.
Medicinal Uses of Bitter Gourd for treating Diabetes:
Bitter Gourd is the most efficient drug in controlling the blood sugar.
A lot of work has been conducted to study the hypoglycemic and anti-diabetic activity of bitter gourd.
Bitter gourd’s roots, leaves and fruit extracts are used as remedy for diabetes from the ancient time and they are proved as powerful hypoglycemic agents. It is used in various forms as mentioned below
i. 100g of fresh karela powder should be taken for 2 weeks in divided doses twice daily for considerable reduction in blood sugar.
ii. The juice of its leaves or concentrated extract has some hypoglycemic activity like tolbutamide. This juice should be taken in the dose of 2 tablespoonful for a month twice daily to control diabetes.
iii. A mixture of jamun, gurmar, neem and karela leaves in the ratio of 2:1:1:2 is found to be effective remedy for diabetes.
Other Uses of Bitter Gourd:
- The roots are used for their astringent activity
- They are used in the treatment of piles
- Fruits have stomachic property
- It is used for treating gout, rheumatism, liver and spleen diseases
- Fruit juice is mixed with sugar and used in stomatitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth)
- Used as an emmenagogue in dysmenorrhoea (pain occuring in the back and lower abdomen at or about the time of the menses)
- Leaves juice is used as emetic (for producing vomiting)
- Purgative (stimulates evacuation of the bowel) in bilous affections
- Relieves the burning sensation of the soles of the feet
- The fruits and leaves are used as anthelmintics, for piles, jaundice and as a vermifuge (causes the expulsion of parasitic worms)
- Leaves act as galactogogue (secretion of milk)
- The leaf juice is mixed with black pepper and is applied locally for night blindness
- The fruit juice if given for 3 days of about 25 ml, once in the morning is said to exert contraceptive effect
- Doses: Juice – 10-15 ml, powder – 2-5 g