Bitter melon is a fruit of of the Cucurbitaceae family, and it is widely grown in East Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Based on its growing patterns, it can be seen that its growth flourishes in humid and high heat environments. The oblong fruit has a distinct shiny, waxy and bumpy skin, and its flesh is cooked often for both its particular bitter flavor and known health benefits.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine of India, there is a long history of applying bitter melon for diabetes treatment. Although different parts of the plant are used, it has initially been seen that some of its primary anti-hypoglycemic compounds are plant §-insulin (an insulin analogue), momordicin, oleanolic acids, and cucurbutanoids.
Scientists have known for some time about beneficial effects of bitter melon on glucose metabolism. Recently, a study was conducted to assess and compare the hypoglycemic and antiatherogenic effects of bitter melon and glibenclamide. A total of 95 diabetic subjects took part in the randomized, double blind clinical trial, and they were randomized into group 1 (bitter melon 2 g/day, group 2 (bitter melon 4 g/day) and group 3 (glibenclamide 2.5 mg/day) for 10 weeks. Upon completion of the 10 week study, it was demonstrated that the bitter melon treatment groups had significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose (group 1: 146 ± 13.40 mg/dl vs. 133.70 ± 11.50 mg/dl, p ≤ 0.05; group 2: 141.60 ± 15.20 mg/dl vs. 126.40 ± 11.90 mg/dl, p < 0.04). The Hemoglobin A1-c (HbA1-c) levels from baseline to the 10 week also registered significant reductions by those in the bitter melon treatment groups. In addition, there were some slight improvements in blood lipids, as was measured by an increase in HDL Cholesterol (+1.85 mg/dl, +3.60 mg/dl for the two bitter melon groups respectively) and a decrease in LDL cholesterol. It is important to note that the glibenclamide-treatment groups had greater effects in terms of lowering blood glucose/HbA1-c (as can be expected as glibenclamide has been a primary medication to treat diabetes), however it did not have the positive impact on blood lipids found in the bitter melon treatment group.
Lower hypoglycemic but higher antiatherogenic effects of bitter melon than glibenclamide in type 2 diabetic patients. Nutr J. 2015 Jan 26;14:13. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-14-13. View research
Setu Bitter Gourd (Bitter Melon) is extracted from wild bitter melon (Momordica charantia)(fruit), and concentrated for its primary active compounds known to enhance glucose metabolism.