The bitter melon herb is also known as bitter cucumber, karela, and bitter gourd. It is a member of the squash family of plants. There are a number of varieties of this plant, including a miniature version.
It is used extensively in Asian cookery, particularly in China and India, as the fruit and seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals. The herb can be administered in capsule form, tincture, or taken as a tea.
Benefits of Bitter Melon
The bitter melon herb has a number of uses, including:
- An aid to the digestive system. It encourages the gastric juices and helps to stimulate the liver to produce bile to break down fats.
- Easing the symptoms of constipation by improving digestion. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can aid digestion.
- Many have used bitter melon in diabetes treatment. Studies have shown that it has a similar effect to insulin and is beneficial when taken for some time. Bitter melon tea is the preferred method of administering the herb for the treatment of diabetes. The leaves of the plant are steeped in hot water, but the liquid must be well strained before being consumed. Anybody already taking medication for this condition should consult with a doctor before embarking on treatment with bitter melon tea or extract.
- The herb can be used to regulate menstruation.
- Bitter melon can be used to treat skin conditions such as sores, wounds, and eczema, as it has antibacterial properties.
- Another of the benefits of bitter melon are its anti-viral properties for fighting viruses such as herpes.
- Studies are underway to establish bitter melon’s usefulness in treating malaria.
- Bitter melon herb is useful for detoxifying the system and encouraging the removal of waste products.
- The herb can be used for lowering blood pressure.
- It has been found that the herb can counteract the negative effects of some HIV medication, though it should only be used after consultation with a doctor.
- Bitter melon extract from roots and leaves can be used to treat hemorrhoids as an external compress, while consumption of the juice or tea can fight hemorrhoids internally.
- The herb can also be taken to fight parasites in the digestive system.
- Bitter melon can prove useful in strengthening the eye sight due to its content of beta carotene.
- Bitter melon can be used in a weight loss regime due to its ability to encourage the metabolism of fat in the diet.
- The herb is useful in fighting the symptoms of respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and asthma.
Bitter Melon Side Effects
On occasion, bitter melon has been known to aggravate ulcers and heartburn, but these side effects are rare. Excessive consumption can lead to diarrhea and pain in the abdomen.
It is not advised to give bitter melon to children, and it should also be avoided by women during pregnancy, as it may cause contractions in the uterus.
Bitter melon extract and other supplements should be taken after consultation with a qualified medical professional, as they could interfere with other medications.