Botanical Name : Momordica charantia
Other Names : Bitter melon, Bitter gourd, Balsam pear.
Momordica Charantia or Bitter Melon, also known as balsam pear or Karela, is a Tropical vegetable, and has been used extensively in folk medicine as a remedy for diabetes. In Ayurveda, the fruit is considered as tonic, stomachic, stimulant, emetic, antibilous,laxative and alterative. The fruit is useful in gout, rheumatism and subacute cases of the spleen and liver diseases. It is supposed to purify blood and dissipate melancholia and gross humours. It has also been shown to have hypoglycaemic properties (anti-diabetic) in animal as well as human studies.
It is widely cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America.
Chemical composition/key active constituents
Momordica charantia has a non-nitrogenous neutral principle charantin, and on hydrolysis gives glucose and a sterol. The fruit pulp of M. charantia has soluble pectin but no free pectic acid. Galactouronic acid is also obtained from the pulp. M.charantia fruits glycosides, saponins, alkaloids, reducing sugars, resins, phenolic constituents, fixed oil and free acids. The presence of an unidentified alkaloid and 5-hydroxytryotamine is also reported. The 5HT content is reported to be present. The ether extract residue of the alcoholic concentrate from the leaves of M. charantia is reported to reveal hypoglycemic activity comparable to that of tolbutamide. The pure protein termed as P-insulin extracted from M. charantia fruits in crystalline form is also tested.
Oral administration of fresh fruit juice (dose, 6 c.c. /kg. body wt.) lowered the blood sugar level in normal and alloxan-diabetic rabbits. Oral administration of alcoholic extracts of the plant to some diabetic patients did not produce any hypoglycaemic action. p-Insulin,a polypeptide from the fruits and seeds rapidly decreased and normalized the blood sugar level in rats.
The fruit juice and/or a leaf tea is employed for diabetes, colic, sores and wounds,infections, worms and parasites, as an emmenogogue, and for measles, hepatitis, and fevers.Bitter melon was traditionally used for numerous infections, cancer, and diabetes purpose.
- Dhalla, N.S. Gupta, K.C. Sastry, M.S. and Malhotra, C.L. 1961. Chemical composition of the fruit of Momordica charantia Linn. Indian J Pharm 23, 128.
- Lotlikar, M.M. and Rajarama Rao, M.R. 1966. Pharmacology of a hypoglycaemic principle isolated from the fruits of Momordica charantia Linn. Indian J Pharm 28, 129.
- Vasistha, S.K., vasistha, S.C. and Rao, V.R.K. 1961-1962. Chemical examination of Momordica charantia.Part III. Preparation of D-galacturonic acid and some new salts of it. J Sci Res Banaras Hindu Univ 12(2), 228.
- Vasistha, S.K., Antony, T.C. and Vasistha S.C. 1960-61. Chemical examination of Momordica. charantia Part I. A study in the pectinous substances. J Sci Res Banaras Hindu Univ 12(2), 228.
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