The study, which was published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, analyzed the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties of bitter melon.
Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd, is a vine that bears fruits with powerful biological properties. Its fruit is consumed all over the globe, from the Amazon, tropical areas of Asia, to the Caribbean. Bitter melon is a versatile vine, and it is usually eaten or used in traditional medicine.
In various cuisines, bitter melon is prepared on its own or served with other vegetables. The fruit can be cooked using different methods such as stir-frying, or it can be used in small quantities to enhance the taste of other dishes.
Testing the health benefits of bitter melon
For the study, researchers analyzed the potential anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-oxidant, and immunomodulatory activities of bitter melon.
Testing revealed that plant extract from the fruit may help hinder cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis (or programmed cell death), cell cycle arrest, and autophagy (a normal physiological process in the body that involves the destruction of cells).
Bitter melon was also able to successfully inhibit cancer stem cells. (Related: Bitter melon is used by many traditional healers to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms and stimulate menstruation.)
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Data from the study showed that the plant is full of bioactive chemical constituents such as:
- Cucurbitane-type triterpenoids
- Essential oils
- Fatty acids
- Phenolic acids
- Triterpene glycosides
Scientists also discovered isolated compounds (e.g., alpha-eleostearic acid, charantin, karaviloside XI, kuguacin J, kuguaglycoside C, and momordicoside Q–U) and proteins (e.g., alpha-Momorcharin, MAP30, and RNase MC2) with powerful biological activity in bitter melon.
Study findings showed that bitter melon, a unique fruit full of various nutrients and beneficial compounds, can one day pave the way for the discovery of an effective cure for both cancer and inflammation.
Fast facts about bitter melon
Bitter melon, or wild cucumber, is a plant named after its taste.
- Bitter melon is technically classified as a fruit, but unlike other fruits, it becomes more bitter as it ripens.
- The fruit can help lower blood sugar, and studies say that it can be used to help treat diabetes. Bitter melon has properties that mimic insulin, which helps bring glucose into the cells for energy.
- Eating bitter melon can help the cells use glucose and send it to fat, the liver, and muscles. The fruit can even help the body retain nutrients by preventing them from being turned into glucose that ends up in the bloodstream.
Bitter melon is a unique fruit that also has the properties of a vegetable and it is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Some of the fruit’s nutritional benefits include:
- Antioxidants like flavonoids, phenols, and others.
- Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
- Vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-9, C, and E.
However, you must exercise caution when adding bitter melon to your diet. The fruit may cause side effects and it can interfere with other drugs. Consult a healthcare professional before you start eating bitter melon.
Consuming bitter melon includes the following complications and risks:
- Abortion, contractions, and vaginal bleeding.
- Dangerous lowering of blood sugar (if taken with insulin).
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and other intestinal issues.
- Favism, which can cause anemia, especially in individuals with G6PD deficiency.
- Liver damage.
- Problems in blood sugar control in people who have recently undergone surgery.
You can read more articles about natural cures for cancer and how to prevent it at Cancer.news.