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L.Srikumar Pai
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Bitter gourd ( Bitter Melon,Kerela, Pavakka, Kaippakka) for diabetes

Bitter Gourd has excellent medicinal virtues. It is antidotal, antipyretic tonic, appetizing, stomachic, antibilious and laxative. The bitter Gourd is also used in native medicines of Asia and Africa.

The Bitter gourd is specifically used as a folk medicine for diabetes. Recent researches by a team of British doctors have established that it contains a hypoglycemic or insulin-like principle, designated as ‘plant-insulin’, which has been found highly beneficial in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels. It should, therefore, be included liberally in the diet of the diabetic. The seeds of bitter gourd can be added to food in the powdered form. Diabetics can also use bitter gourd in the form of decoction by boiling the pieces in water or in the form of dry powder.

A majority of diabetics usually suffer from malnutrition as they are usually under-nourished. Bitter gourd being rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, B1, B2, C and Iron, its regular use prevents many complication such as hypertension, eye complications, neuritis and defective metabolism of carbohydrates. It increases body’s resistance against infection. It contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.

Bittergourd contain compounds like bitter glycosides, saponins, alkaloids, reducing sugars, phenolics, oils, free acids, polypeptides, sterols, 17-amino acids including methionine and a crystalline products name p-insulin.

Bittergourd is known as hypoglycemic antihaemorrhoidal, astringent, stomachic, emmenagogue, hepatic stimulant, anthelmintic and blood purifier.


Bitter melon (pictured right) is a vegetable indigenous to South America and Asia, where it has been used to treat diabetes, leprosy, jaundice, rheumatism and gout. Bitter melon is a member of the squash, or gourd, family. It is among the oldest foods on earth.

Anyone interested in the use of bitter melon regarding its effectiveness as an alternative medicine for diabetes should be aware of the 10 facts below

1. Bitter melon is used as an injectable for diabetes in China.

2. The American Journal of Pharmacology says bitter melon contains insulin.

3. The British Medical Journal reports improvement in glucose tolerance due to bitter melon

4. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association shows improvement in trial of bitter melon for patients with maturity-onset diabetes.

5. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology finds 73% of patients experience significantly improved glucose tolerance with bitter melon.

6. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide says that bitter melon is an herb traditionally used to treat diabetes.

7. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine notes that bitter melon is composed of several compounds with confirmed anti-diabetic properties.

8. The Journal of Naturopathic Medicine affirms anti-diabetic effects of bitter melon are clearly demonstrated.

9. Diabetes Research reports that West Indian patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes use bitter melon as their only therapy.

10. Bitter melon has twice the potassium of bananas, the fruit commonly recommended for diabetes because it “has lots of potassium.”



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