Many of us struggle with keeping our blood sugar stable. If you are like me, you get so busy with your day that lunch time has come and gone and you’ve forgotten to eat. No wonder my blood sugar drops later in the day and I’m ravenous and will eat whatever’s in sight! Through these experiences, I have learned to eat better and more regularly.
But, there are many people who are diabetic, pre-diabetic or hypoglycemic and struggle with keeping their blood sugar stable no matter how regularly they eat. The information I’m going to share with you in this blog might be beneficial for you if you struggle with maintaining good blood sugar levels.
Bitter Melon, also known as bitter gourd or Ampalaya, is a unique vegetable that can be eaten or taken internally as a helpful healing herb. It is the edible part of the Momordica Charantia plant, which is a vine of the Cucurbitaceae family. The plant grows in tropical areas, such as parts of Africa, the Philippines, parts of the Caribbean, and South.
It is a green, oblong shaped fruit, similar to a cucumber, with a very warty outside, it grows off a vine and is full of vitamins and minerals. Besides being a food ingredient, it has been used for years as an herbal remedy for many ailments, including lowering blood sugar. It can also be taken in capsule form.
The fruit is known to contain at least three substances with helpful anti-diabetic properties. According to William D. Torres, Ph.D. of the University of the Philippines in Manila, these substances can help reduce blood sugar levels:
- Charantin, has been confirmed to have a blood glucose lowering effect.
- Vicine has an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p.
- Lectin helps reduce blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues; suppressing appetite, similar to the effects of insulin in the brain.
Dr. Torres goes on to say that pre-clinical data from several studies confirm the hypoglycemic effect (lowered blood sugar) of the extracts from the plant. While the mechanism of the actions is not yet fully understood, the studies support several theories:
- The extract supports the recovery of partially destroyed beta cells;
- There may be an increased utilization of glucose in the liver; or
- It may possibly activate insulin secretion.
The current data shows that extracts of M. charantia L. produce increased and improved glucose tolerance, and that the overall hypoglycemic effects in people with diabetes were significant, according to Dr. Torres.
It is well tolerated and safe, with only minor gastrointestinal side effects in susceptible people. Plant products have been used in the treatment of diseases for many years, and they could be historically considered to be the first drugs.
Bitter melon has a long history of use as a hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) agent in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the plant extract has been called vegetable insulin, according to Ethan Basch, M.D., and colleagues at various facilities in Boston, Massachusetts.
Bitter melon can be purchased locally in the form of herbal capsules or herbal tea.
People with diabetes should avoid ampalaya (bitter melon) if they have an allergy or hypersensitivity to members of the melon or gourd family, including cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew, muskmelon, or Persian melon. And, while bitter melon is an alternative therapy for lowering blood glucose levels, anyone with diabetes who has a liver disease, is pregnant, or a child should consult their physician before using bitter melon.
For further study on this subject, I would recommend the book “Ampalaya, Nature’s Remedy for Diabetes”. It’s full of good information regarding keeping blood sugars stable.
Above all things I wish that you would prosper and be in good health!