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Bitter melon for diabetes

  1. Many plants with a hypoglycaemic effect have been described in the scientific literature. Some of these plants have long been known as such in traditional medicine and their blood sugar lowering activity has been confirmed by pharmacognostic research. Some plants known in traditional natural medicine for their hypoglycaemic activity are Allium species, Galega officinalis, Trigonella foenum-graecum and also the Bitter cucumber, Momordica charantia

Momordica charantia

  1. Momordica charantia or Karela (Indian), Sopropo (Surinamese), Bitter Gourd (English) or Fu-Kwa (Chinese) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae or Cucumber family. The plant is found throughout Southeast Asia and is grown as a vegetable in many countries around the world. Raw, this vegetable has an unpleasant odor and a moderate to even very bitter taste. The names "Bitter Gourd" and "Fu-Kwa" (literally: bitter cucumber) already indicate this.

Against cataracts

  1. In experiments with rats a protective effect was found against the occurrence of cataracts. A group of rats with chemically induced IDDM was treated with a Momordica charantia extract for two months. Cataracts in diabetes mellitus are directly caused by hyperglycaemia. Under normal physiological conditions, glucose can react non-specifically with proteins, creating covalent compounds that can form brown, fluorescent pigments. In diabetes mellitus, however, this takes place more quickly, causing structural and functional changes in physiologically active proteins (including enzymes), leading to typical complications of diabetes mellitus such as neuropathy and changes in the lens (cataracts).


  1. From the fruits of M. charantia, a hypoglycaemic active compound called 'charantine' has been isolated. Charantine is a mixture (1: 1) of two sterol glucosides. The hypoglycaemic effect of the fruits is probably not only attributable to charantine, as in clinical trials with daily use of 50-60 ml fresh fruit juice, the hypoglycaemic effect could not be fully related to the single mg of charantine that this amount of juice contains; more than 1500 g of fresh fruits are required to obtain 50 mg of charantine. Probably there are also other active ingredients and / or synergistic effects occur. Charantin has a stronger effect than tolbutamide in the same doses.


  1. A polypeptide with insulin-like activity has been isolated from the fruits of M. momordica. This polypeptide, also called P-insulin or polypeptide P, consists of 166 amino acids. In clinical studies, hypoglycaemic effects were observed with subcutaneous administration of β-insulin to patients with diabetes mellitus. Although the amino acid composition of P-insulin differs significantly from that of insulin, and the molecule is also three times the size, it is remarkable that even after daily subcutaneous administration of P-insulin for five months, no hypersensitivity reactions occurred. However, beta-insulin is ineffective when administered orally and therefore does not contribute to the hypoglycaemic activity seen with oral administration of the fruits of Momordica charantia.

Use of bitter melon

  1. For the treatment of adult-onset diabetes you can use extracts and preparations, but it is also possible to grow these fruits yourself and use them as a vegetable.

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