Bitter melon (Karela) is a valuable herb gifted to us by Mother Nature. It is one of the healthiest vegetables known to man. Apart from being eaten mainly as vegetable, it is particularly reputed as a folk medicine due to its therapeutic properties. Although the bitter taste can turn you away, but it can really improve your health.

Bitter gourd is the english name of Momordica charantia. It looks like a hideous, light green cucumber and it tastes very bitter. There are two varieties of this vegetable. It is mostly found in tropical parts of the world, including Africa, Asia and South America.
It has numerous vital vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorous, Copper and Potassium. There are many health reasons why you should take this bitter vegetable seriously. Here are a few:

  • Diabetes: The bitter gourd is particularly used as a remedy for diabetes because of its hypoglycemic action. It contains insulin-like peptides, alkaloids and charantin, all of which act together to lower blood and urine sugar levels without increasing blood insulin levels. These compounds activate a protein called AMPK, which is well known for regulating fuel metabolism and enabling glucose uptake, processes which are impaired in diabetics. You can take the juice of 4-5 bitter gourds every morning on an empty stomach, add seeds in powdered form to food or prepare a decoction by boiling the pieces of this fruit in water. If you are taking medications to lower your blood sugar, adding bitter gourd might make your blood sugar drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.
  • Blood Purification: It has blood-purifying properties. As a result, the juice is used in the treatment of blood disorders like blood boils and itching due to blood poisoning. Have it little by little on an empty stomach daily, in 4-6 months you will see enhancement in your state.
  • Piles: Fresh juice of bitter gourd is good for patients suffering from piles. Take a mixture of bitter melon juice and buttermilk every morning for about a month and you will see an improvement. A paste of the roots of bitter gourd plant can also be applied over piles to get a favorable result.
  • Good for stomach: It contains cellulose which is a very good source of fiber thus preventing constipation. It also good digestive agent and helps in stimulating the secretion of gastric juices. This can be very helpful for people with dyspepsia. However, sometimes it may worsen heartburn and ulcers.
  • Aids weight loss: It stimulates liver for secretion of bile juices that are very essential for metabolism of fats. Thus, if you want to have a perfect, slim figure, then bitter gourd can help you.
  • Eye care: It has high amount of beta-carotene that helps alleviate eye problems and improving eyesight.
  • Alcoholism: It is an antidote for alcohol intoxication, and helps purify, restore and nourish liver. Its juice is also beneficial in the treatment of a bad hangover.
  • Cholera: Fresh juice of leaves of bitter gourd is also a useful medication in early stages of cholera.
  • Immune booster: A glass of bitter gourd juice in the morning can help to strengthen your immune system and increase your body's fighting power against infection. Researchers hypothesize that bitter melon is as an immunomodulator. One clinical trial found limited evidence that bitter melon might improve immune cell function in people with cancer.
  • Skin care: Bitter gourd is also effective in treating skin diseases or skin infections, eczema and psoriasis. It also helps in keeping the skin free from blemishes and keeps the skin glowing. The blood purifying properties make sure that you don't get acne.
  • HIV: Laboratory tests suggest that compounds in bitter melon might be effective for treating HIV infection. In one preliminary clinical trial, an enema form of a bitter melon extract showed some benefits in people infected with HIV. However, more research is necessary before this could be recommended.

In fact, its extracts are already sold as pills as well and it is being marketed as a blood sugar level reducing medicine. But rather than going for an indirect method of intake why not try to eat some amount of Karela in the form of vegetable/soup/curry in your diets, to get all the benefits.
Although there are several health benefits of including bitter gourd in your diet, it is not recommended to take it in excess amounts as it can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea. Also, pregnant women are also advised against having bitter gourd.

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