Bitter gourd is one of the natural remedies for controlling blood sugar. Ideally it needs to be included in a diabetic’s daily diet which would benefit him in the long run. It is also known by another name, bitter melon. It tends to influence the glucose metabolism all over the body rather than at a particular organ or tissue.
It helps increase pancreatic insulin secretion and prevents insulin resistance. Bitter gourd is beneficial for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes though it cannot entirely replace insulin treatment.
It is recommended to drink bitter juice everyday early in the morning on an empty stomach for two months to get the full benefit.
Bitter gourd is thought to help cells use glucose more effectively and block sugar absorption in the intestine. Researchers in Phillipines made men and women take bitter gourd in capsule form for three months and they had slightly, but consistently better lower blood sugar than taking a placebo.
This vegetable contains three active substances with anti-diabetic properties. It also contains a lectin that reduces blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing appetite similar to the effects of insulin in the brain. This lectin is thought to be a major factor behind the hypoglycemic effect that develops after eating bitter gourd. It contains two very essential compounds like charatin and momordicin that are the key compounds in lowering one’s blood sugar levels. It is also packed with anti-oxidants that helps the body fight off the associated complicationscommonly seen in diabetics. Most importantly the seeds of the bitter gourd plant are packed with a plant insulin called polypeptide-P that mimics the insulin provided by the human pancreas effectively reducing one’s sugar levels. It also has Oleanolic Acid Glycosides which have been found to improve glucose tolerance in Type II diabetics by preventing the absorption of sugar from the intestines. Bitter gourd has also been linked to effects of increasing the number of beta cells in the pancreas as well, and as a result improving the body’s capability to produce insulin. The hypoglycemic effect is more pronounced in the fruit of Bitter Melon where these chemicals are found in the highest quantity.
It is rich in vitamins a, b1, b2, c, iron and its regular use prevents complication associated with diabetics such as eye complications, neuritis and defective metabolism of carbohydrates. It also enhances cells’ uptake of glucose to promote insulin release and to make the effect of insulin more potent.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is seen as a Plant insulin. If administered correctly, it can behave similarly to slow acting animal insulin which represents exciting potential for a more sustainable vegetarian source of insulin.
I would like to give an example of how effective bitter gourd is for the treatment of diabetes. My friend was diagnosed with Type 2 about four months ago. She had a blood glucose reading of 370. The doctor put her on Metformin about 1000 mg a day which brought the level down to the low 200s. Someone told her about bitter gourd and she started taking the juice once in the morning and once in the evening. The very next day her fasting glucose dropped to 80, she stopped her metaformin and her fasting glucose levels have been less than 100 ever since.
A study by researchers found that four compound found in bitter gourd activate an enzyme that is responsible for transporting glucose from the blood into the cells. The enzyme is called AMPK which is the same one activated by exercise.