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Momordica charantia L. (Cucurbitaceae)

  • Shahid AkbarEmail author
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Abstract

It is a climbing, nearly or quite smooth, annual vine that is widely grown in Asia (especially Indian subcontinent), Africa, and in central Europe. Hindu physicians in India used the whole plant combined with cinnamon, long pepper, rice and the oil of Hydnocarpus wightiana as an external application in scabies and other skin diseases. Fruits and leaves were used as anthelmintic, and externally applied in leprosy. Leaves juice was also rubbed in burning sole of the feet, and with black pepper was rubbed around the orbit as a cure for night blindness. Muslim physicians found it useful in rheumatism and gout, and in diseases of the liver and spleen, and as anthelmintic. Outer fruit coat and seeds, but not the fruit pulp, are cathartic, producing gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhea, the symptoms persisting for long periods. In Turkish folk medicine, mature fruits are used externally for wound healing and orally for the treatment of gastric ailments including peptic ulcers. It is part of the traditional diet of Okinawa Island (Japan) residents, is used to manage diabetes by Mauritian population, and a tea prepared from a wild variety, known as Cerasee is traditionally used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in the West Indies and Central America. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, the plant is also used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, wounds refractive to other treatments, skin diseases, chronic stomach ulcers, and for sterility in women. Whole plant is used in the management of depressive illness in traditional African medicine. Fruits are a good source of iron, calcium and phosphorus, contain substances with antidiabetic properties, such as charantin (a ribosome-inactivating peptide), vicine, and polypeptide-P, and other nonspecific bioactive components such as antioxidants. Lycopene is the major carotinoid of ripe seeds, and its concentration increases about 100-fold from the immature to the ripe stage. Drinking of homogenized water suspension of the pulp significantly reduced both fasting and postprandial serum glucose levels of NIDDM patients, and the fruit juice significantly improved glucose tolerance of Sri Lankan NIDDM patients. Addition of powdered fruit to standard therapy of newly diagnosed or poorly controlled type-2 diabetes patients with HbA1c levels between 7 and 9%, lowered HbA1c, but no significant improvement in mean FBS, TC, and body weight.

Keywords

Balsamagurk Bálsamo Balsempeer Bitter melon Concombre amer Karavella Karela Ku gua Margose Niga uri 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.StocktonUSA

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