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What Is Bitter Melon Used for Today?
Bitter melon continues to be advertised as an effective treatment for diabetes , especially of the type 2 (“adult-onset”) variety. However, evidence used to support this claim is limited to animal studies, uncontrolled human trials and other unreliable forms of evidence. 1 2 3 4 5 Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can prove a treatment effective, and the single such study of bitter melon failed to find benefit. 6 (For information on why double-blind studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )
In test tube studies , a protein in bitter melon called MAP-30 kills viruses and slows the growth of some cancer cells. However, it is a long way from the test tube to real people, and there have not as yet been any human trials of bitter melon or its constituents for the treatment of cancer or viral diseases.
- Srivastava Y, Venkatakrishna-Bhatt H, Verma Y, et al. Antidiabetic and adaptogenic properties of Momordica charantia extract: an experimental and clinical evaluation. Phytother Res. 1993;7:285-289.
- Welihinda J, Arvidson G, Gylfe E, et al. The insulin-releasing activity of the tropical plant Momordica charantia. Acta Biol Med Ger. 1982;41:1229-1240.
- Welhinda J, Karunanayake EH, Sheriff MH, et al. Effect of Momordica charantia on the glucose tolerance in maturity onset diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol. 1986;17:277-282.
- Leatherdale BA, Panesar RK, Singh G, et al. Improvement in glucose tolerance due to Momordica charantia (karela). Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1981;282:1823-1824.
- Ahmad N, Hassan MR, Halder H, Bennoor KS. Effect of Momordica charantia (Karolla) extracts on fasting and postprandial serum glucose levels in NIDDM patients. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull. 25(1):11-3.
- Dans AM, Villarruz MV, Jimeno CA, Javelosa MA, Chua J, Bautista R, Velez GG. The effect of Momordica charantia capsule preparation on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus needs further studies. J Clin Epidemiol. 60(6):554-9.