Bitter melon goes by many names…ampalaya, bitter gourd, goya…but no matter the name, it possesses some pretty powerful health benefits. Extracts and teas made from the fruit and leaves of bitter melon have been used for medicinal purposes in the Philippines for centuries. It’s touted as an aid for diabetes, rheumatism, gout, cancer, and heart health. It’s extremely bitter, so if you can’t tolerate it on its own, then add it to stir-fries, sip it as a tea, or take it as a supplement. It’s a quick and easy health tip!
Bitter Melon for Diabetes
Studies indicate that compounds in bitter melon are able to lower blood sugar. Bitter melon contains high concentrations of alkaloids and charntin, which are peptides that are similar to insulin. Bitter melon helps to regulate blood sugar by preventing insulin fluctuations and controlling your body’s metabolism of glucose. To benefit from the blood sugar benefits of bitter melon, drink a cup of bitter melon juice once a day.
A word of caution: bitter melon exerts a very powerful effect on blood sugar, and for this reason should not be used alongside other medications or supplements that also lower blood sugar.
Bitter Melon for Cancer Prevention
Studies indicate that bitter melon can help trigger cancer cell death and stop the growth and spread of several different types of cancer cells, including breast, colon, leukemia, prostate, liver, and pancreatic cancer cells. One study showed that by inhibiting the production of glucose, bitter melon suppressed the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Another study out of Saint Louis University showed that bitter melon extracts destroyed breast cancer cells and inhibited metastasis. Other studies from the Philippines suggest the same anti-cancer benefit on breast cancer, leukemia, and prostate cancer cells, as well as HIV.
Other Health Benefits of Bitter Melon
Bitter melon is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’ve got:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin K
- Folic acid
Bitter melons may help relieve asthma. Studies have shown that bitter melon helps to break up and release saliva and mucus that accumulates within the respiratory tract and lungs.
Bitter melon may also help treat kidney stones by lowering levels of the acid that forms kidney stones, thereby helping to break them up.
And, when consumed regularly, bitter melon contributes to glowing, healthy skin, and may even help alleviate skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.