Bitter melon, also known as balsam pear, bitter gourd or karela is good source of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. . You may eat immature bitter melons raw (as juice) or can cook it as you would a vegetable. Juicing this is fantastic for many conditions such as diabetes according to Ayurvedic medicine. It is thought that the compounds in bitter melon mimic the action of insulin in the body and can help with blood sugar regulation/control.
Bitter gourd leaves are also packed full of medicinal properties. The leaves are used for treatment of diabetes, dysentery, rheumatism and gout, viral diseases, respiratory ailments and more. The leaves of plant have anti-diabetic, anti-hyperglycaemic, anthelminthic, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, emetic, purgative, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-ulcerogenic and antiviral properties against chicken pox, measles. Making a tea from the leaves is one way of benefiting from the leaves.
Bitter herbs are considered to be liver herbs in many cases, due to the fact that they stimulate, cleanse, and protect the liver and gall bladder.
While some find the bitter taste of bitter melon to be less appealing to our western palates, they do stimulate and support digestion which means the benefits outweigh those picky taste buds. There are ways around the bitter taste, check out the recipe section for some tasty ways to eat this beneficial fruit/vegetable/herb.
German research has shown that bitter tonic herbs stimulate bile production and the production of hydrochloric acid, both of which are necessary for digestion. They also stimulate the nervous system, immune system function as well as help to combat fatigue.
When doing a liver supportive detox, which I use supportive teas and tonics not store-bought gimmicks. I will incorporate milk thistle, for its protection of the liver, in some studies milk thistle was clinically shown to treat liver damage from alcohol, and hepatitis. It was also able to reduce the damage done by acetaminophen, radiation and other environmental toxins.
I like to additionally add dandelion as it stimulates digestion and bile action.
Check out one of my favourite recipes
Bitter melon has been shown in studies to have anti-cancer properties. The papers on this are quite extensive in animal testing. Breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate tumours are among the areas studied.