Bitter Melon or Bitter gourd or Momordica charantia is probably the most disliked vegetable. And it has got a reason for this because it is claimed to be the bitterest vegetable. But this most distasteful vegetable is wonderful Ayurvedic medicine. Recently, it has grabbed great attention from all over the world, especially for diabetes.
Bitter gourd is a good source of nutrition. It is abundant in vitamins, minerals, and other phytoconstituents. Hence, it shows excellent anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic, anthelminthic, and digestive activity. Let’s learn more about this crucial medicinal vegetable.
Bitter Melon or Karela – All you need to know
Bitter melon is known as ‘Karavellaka’ in Sanskrit as it is considered very useful in fever. Its Latin name ‘Momordica charantia’ which means a graceful pendant fruit that has jagged leaves and which looks as if bitten. Bitter gourd is an herbaceous climber that is cultivated in gardens of tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and America. It is commercially grown for its fruit, which is primarily used as a vegetable.
Bitter melon has green, slender, climbing vine with simple, deeply 5-7 lobed and long-stalked leaves. Karela flowers are yellow and have five petals. Its fruit is a dark-green berry with pointed ends, usually of an oblong shape. It has a warty appearance due to teeth like ridges.
Bitter gourd is hollow internally with a thin flesh surrounding a cavity filled with large flat seeds. Its seeds are usually immersed in bright red or white pulp. Fruits, seeds, and leaves are the most useful part of bitter gourd in Ayurvedic medicine.
Properties of bitter gourd
As per Ayurveda, bitter gourd has bitter and pungent rasa (taste). It is dry and light to digest. Its post-digestive effect is pungent and is hot in potency. Due to a combination of these properties, bitter gourd alleviates kapha and pitta dosha. Moreover, it is rich in nutrients like riboflavin, thiamine, beta-carotene, and minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fibers.
What are the benefits of the bitter melon?
Bitter gourd has recently gained popularity worldwide owing to its hypoglycaemic (blood sugar lowering) property. Especially bitter gourd juice has become an established home remedy for diabetes. But bitter gourd has many more uses other than diabetes. Let’s take a look –
Helps in gastric complaints
Bitter gourd stimulates appetite and is useful for those having sluggish digestion. Moreover, it treats dyspepsia, flatulence, constipation, and other digestive problems.
Promotes eye health
Beta carotene in the bitter gourd is essential for healthy eyes. It enhances eyesight and controls several eye disorders.
Perfect for detoxification
Bitter melon is one of the best detoxifiers. It not only purifies blood but also nourishes and strengthens the liver. Thereby, it controls jaundice and alcohol-related liver disorders. Furthermore, owing to emetic and purgative properties, Karela or bitter gourd helps in expelling out the poison.
Best in Pitta-related diseases
Speaking in Ayurvedic terms, bitter melon alleviates increased pitta levels and brings balance among Tridoshas. Hence, it is beneficial in pitta caused disorders like fever, skin diseases, and inflammatory disorders.
Maintains your blood pressure
Bitter gourd possesses lipolytic properties i.e. breaks down the stored fat. Hence, it dissolves extra-fat in the body and regulates hypertension.
How to use bitter melon?
Bitter melon has been long used as food and medicine. Nowadays, bitter gourd based supplements like capsules, tablets, powders are widely available in the market. But it’s always best to use herbs fresh. You can use bitter gourd as medicine at your home in the following ways –
Bitter gourd juice
- Make juice out of four bitter gourds and take daily in the morning or evening with an empty stomach. It will significantly lower your blood sugar level
- Bitter gourd juice cooked in little ghee or clarified butter is very beneficial in gout
- A spoonful of Karela juice added with little sugar cures oral ulcers and pyorrhoea
- You can treat skin disorders like scabies, psoriasis, eczema, fungal infection with bitter gourd. For this, prepare a cupful of fresh Karela juice and mix it with lime juice. Taking it on an empty stomach daily will purify your blood
- 10-20 ml of bitter gourd juice helps in easy bleeding in dysmenorrhoea
- Daily intake of Karela juice prevents jaundice and liver damage due to excessive alcoholism
Bitter melon leaf juice
- You can cure diabetes even with bitter gourd leaves. For this, boil 6 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 2 glass of water for 15 minutes. Drink 1/3 cup of this tea thrice a day
- You can get relief from burning feet by rubbing the leaf juice on the soles
- To detoxify the liver, expel worms in children, mix leaf juice with turmeric powder and give to drink. It acts as emetic and cleans the stomach
- To treat diarrhea, mix two teaspoons of bitter gourd leaf juice with an equal part of spring onion juice and lime juice. Take this mixture twice a day
- For getting relief from piles, you have to mix 3 teaspoons of bitter gourd leaf juice in a glass of fresh buttermilk and take every morning with an empty stomach. You can even apply Karela leaf paste externally over the hemorrhoids
- Mix paste of Karela leaves with equal parts of Tulsi juice and honey. Take this early morning to treat asthma, bronchitis, common cold, and pharyngitis
Bitter melon seed
- 1-3 g of bitter gourd seed powder consumed either directly or by adding in food controls blood sugar, detoxifies the liver, and cleanses the blood
- Boil the bitter gourd seeds in a glass of water until half-cup remains. This induces instant vomiting and reduces fat
How much to use?
1-2 cups of bitter gourd fruit or leaf juice and decoction are recommended for daily use. If you are using a bitter gourd seed powder capsule, then 1-3g is useful. To use the tincture, consume 1-3ml mixed with water in a day.
Always use bitter gourd within its proper dose, otherwise, it can have potential side effects. It should be used wisely in children, hypoglycemics, pregnant women, and during breastfeeding.
Now we know that bitter melon is not just a vegetable but can be used as medicine for multiple purposes. Due to several healing properties of bitter gourd, it can be employed successfully to treat diabetes, viral fevers, gastric problems, hypertension, high cholesterol, psoriasis, and piles. So, even this bitter vegetable can give you a healthy body and mind.