Bitter Melon

Momordica charantia common names: balsalm pear, bitter gourd, cerasee, karela, momordica

bitter melon, balasm pear, bitter gourd Bitter melon is a climbing vine with yellow flowers that develope into gourds. Mostly the gourd, or fruit, is used in medicinal treatment. Found in Asian food markets, it can be taken in whole fruit form or as an extract, tincture or juice.

This herb is useful in treating infections caused by retroviruses and is being investigated as a possible preventative in the transmission of HIV. It is believed to slow the insertion of HIV into the DNA of hose cells, however more research is needed in this area and these were laboratory, not human studies. Traditionally it has been used to treat parasites, worms and digestive disorders.

There are some small studies showing that bitter melon may be useful in treatment of leukemia and can inhibit breast cancer in mice.

One of its main benefits is lowering blood sugar which is useful in diabetes. It does this by affecting glycogen and glucose storage in the liver.

Benefits Of Use

This supplement may be useful in the following conditions.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome and herpes. Extract is 2-3 times more effective thatn acyclovir sensitive strains of herpes and up to 1000 times more effective for resistent strains. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been associated with herpes.
  • Diabetes. In clincal tests reduced blood sugar after meals. May help reduce the amount of insulin used in Type I diabetes.

Considerations For Use

Do not use the tincture for diabetes control, as this form does not lower blood sugar for diabetes control. Better results are achieved in glucose control if bitter melon is combined with gurmar. You may need to reduce your prescription medication if taking these herbs, and there are no studies looking at the interaction with diabetes medications.

Rarely, people using this herb for years have developed liver problems. Do not use it if you already have liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis. It is best to use this herb for only 4 weeks then discontinue it for awhile.

The seed covering is extremely toxic, especially in children, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and rarely death.

There are reported cases of people suffering cardiac arrhythmias from homemade preparations of bitter melon. Please do not make tinctures or teas of this as you may unknowingly concentrate it too much.

People with hypoglycemia should not take bitter melon, and do not take it if you are pregnant.

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