Bitter melon, which is a type of edible, medicinal fruit, has a long history of use in China, Japan, and India. The Chinese were attracted to bitter melon’s extremely sour taste, as they kew bitter foods tend to cleanse the body and are acapable of boosting liver health. As such, they began cooking and using the fruit in recipes. Bitter melon health benefits include treating indigestion, upset stomach, and skin wounds, to name a few. Read below to learn more about what this curious, bitter fruit can do for your health.
Here are 7 bitter melon health benefits:
1. Helps Normalize Blood Sugar Levels
Both human and animal studies show a hypoglycemic effect of concentrated bitter melon extract. As such, bitter melon health benefits include the ability to lower blood glucose levels as well as regulate the body’s use of insulin. In fact, in many ways, bitter melon extract behaves just like insulin that the body produces naturally.
Furthermore, bitter melon health benefits include treating other diabetic symptoms as well as complications that arise from the disease. These symptoms include:
- Insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels
- Nephropathy (kidney damage)
- Eye disorders such as cataracts or glaucoma
- Hormonal irregularities and menstrual changes in women
- Heart complications and blood vessel damage
Additionally, 2013 study showed that bitter melon extract significantly lowered the blood glucose level of both normal and diabetic mice. (1)
2. Fights Bacterial Infections & Viruses
Bitter melon health benefits continue with the ability to fight bacteria. Research indicates bitter melon contains numerous forms of antibacterial and antiviral properties. These properties can lower susceptibility to infections associated to the formation of stomach ulcers, as well as viruses like HIV.
And, in recent years, bitter melon extract effectively fights aspirin and stress-induced ulcers in rats. (2) Furthermore, bitter melon health benefits include effectiveness in killing parasites. Studies have identified anthelmintic agents within bitter melon, which is a group of anti-parasitic compounds. Anthemintics work by ridding of parasites without causing a great amount of damage to the host.
3. Improves Digestive & Liver Health
Evidence suggests that bitter melon extract may help reduce stomach and intestinal disorders. For example, it can help decrease kidney stones, prevent liver disease, improve liver function, help treat parasitic works, reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, and improve overall digestive health. (3)
In fact, Annamali University in India examined bitter melon health benefits. They found that the extract from bitter melon increased levels of glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and catalase, which helps improve detoxification and prevent liver damage. (4)
Additionally, bitter melon health benefits extend to constipation relief.
4. Can Help Increase Cancer Protection
While results have been inconsistent, studies indicate bitter melon health benefits include fighting cancer. For example, it’s effective in preventing and managing lymphoid leukemia, lymphoma, choriocarcinoma, melanoma, breast cancer, skin tumors, prostatic cancer, carcinoma of the tongue and larynx, bladder cancer and Hodgkin’s disease.
Bitter melon is, according to one study, anti-cancerous, anti-mutagentic, and anti-tumorous. (5) Another study found over 20 active components within bitter melon that have anti-tumor properties. And yet another study shows how bitter melon can inhibit free radical damage, prevent lipid peroxidation. In fact, the School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Hong Kong has stated that bitter melon is “a cornucopia of health and deserves in-depth investigations for clinical application in the future.” (6, 7)
5. Reduces Respiratory Disorders & Symptoms
Bitter melon health benefits continue with the power to prevent common respiratory illnesses, such as the cold or flu. It does this by increasing detoxification, improving blood flow, lowering inflammation and decreasing free radical damage.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has used bitter melon juice to treat dry coughs, bronchitis, and sore throats for hundreds of years. You can use the juice, fruit and seeds to treat coughs, rid of excess mucus, and ease food allergy symptoms.
6. Helps Treat Skin Inflammation & Wounds
Numerous studies have discovered anti-inflammatory compounds within bitter melon. These compounds treat, for example, such skin conditions as eczema and psoriasis. Bitter melon, with its antibacterial properties, is great for treating skin infections and wounds without the use of conventional antibiotics.
7. May Help Prevent Obesity & Heart Disease
According to the Journal of Lipids, bitter melon can boost your metabolism. (8) Furthermore, it can balance hormones related to diabetes. This is beneficial in preventing obesity, as well as other symptoms related to metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.