Bitter melon (karela) is a vegetable that is grown in several parts of Asia, East Africa, and South America. In India and China bitter melon has been used to treat diabetes for centuries.
According to studies bitter melon probably lowers blood sugar by increasing the activity of enzymes that help in metabolism of glucose (helps to convert glucose or blood sugar into glycogen). Glycogen is stored in liver and used later as required for energy. According to expert bitter melon can help to lower blood cholesterol as well. But the evidence to support effectiveness of bitter melon in lowering blood sugar is still not very convincing.
You can take bitter melon juice ----remove the seeds of bitter melon and then blend and puree it with equal amount of water to make juice. Drink about 1/4 to 1/2 cup daily. Or you can eat it after steaming it----slice the unpeeled fruit and remove the seeds and steam or boil it till it is well cooked. Natural liquid extract of bitter melon is also available. Take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon up to three times daily or as recommended.
Some studies have shown that bitter melon has been well-tolerated. But it has been shown to cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, or fever. Before taking bitter melon for diabetes to lower blood sugar levels consult your doctor. Do not stop you medication for diabetes without consulting you doctor. Extra caution is recommended if you are pregnant or nursing.
Dr Poonam Sachdeva, our in-house medical expert talks about the why what and how in diabetes.