It works as an anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and even an anti-bacterial—if you can stand juicing it.
The humble karela, or bitter gourd, is kind of a wonder vegetable, researchers say, confirming what folk medicine has known.
Turkish scientists just published a paper in the Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy on the benefits of raw karela.
The plant is shaped like a ridged cucumber and its flesh, leaves and surface are all bitter. It is called the Momordica charantia with Momordica meaning, “to bite” after its jagged edges.
In India and Pakistan it has long been seen as a treatment for diabetes.
Extracts from it contain anti-diabetic hypoglycemic and anti-oxidative agents.
When diabetic rats were given its juice for eight weeks scientists saw a significant increase in the number of cells in their pancreas.
It helps diabetics by reducing blood glucose, delaying complications (nephropathy, neuropathy, gastro paresis and cataracts, atherosclerosis) and becoming anti-infective (for those susceptible to diabetic diseases).
In Turkish folk medicine, ripe karela is used internally for peptic ulcers and to quickly heal external wounds.
Its leaf extracts have anti-microbial properties which help with bacteria that causes stomach disorders.
Remarkably, bitter gourd is documented as having anti-H. pylori properties, which work against ulcers.
It worked in rats when they were given dried powdered of bitter gourd in filtered honey.
You can buy concentrated fruit or seed extracts as capsules and tablets.
Researchers do warn however, that studies show it can stimulate the uterus so pregnant women should avoid it raw.