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Miraculous benefits of bitter melon!

Before medicines had come into the picture, nature was an important and rich source of medicinal plants. These plants provided solutions for various diseases and disorders. One such plant is Momordica charantia or bitter gourd or bitter melon. Bitter gourds are commonly consumed with different vegetables, stuffed or stir-fried. Even though it is cultivated all over the world, the consumption of the plant is more in Asia, Africa, Amazon, and the Caribbean. It had gained popularity among the masses as it was deemed to be a folk medicine. And rightly so, it contains various anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity and immunomodulatory activities.

Progress in the field of science and technology has made the discovery of active constituents present in these plants possible. Bitter melons grow well in a warm, tropical climate; hence, it is found and consumed mostly in India. The plant has gained popularity among the masses as a medicine that slows down the progression of the world’s second- deadliest disease, cancer. It is known to slow down the growth of cancer in its path.

Ratna Ray, Ph.D., professor of Pathology at Saint Louis University, says, “All animal model studies that we’ve conducted are giving us similar results, an approximately 50% reduction in tumour growth. Our next step is to conduct a pilot study in cancer patients to see if bitter melon has clinical benefits and is a promising additional therapy to current treatments.” Ray, after getting her doctorate degree from the University of Calcutta, commenced her study on the benefits of the bitter melon. She found that alongside diabetes, the plant can also treat cancer.

Ray’s papers chronicled how bitter melon can combat mouth and tongue cancer. It adjusts the molecules on the pathway of metabolism and moves glucose and fat along, causing the cancer cells to perish. Ray says she wants to rephrase the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and replace the apple with bitter melon.

Subarna Basu