Bitter Melon – bitter fruit with a sweet nature

Bitter Melon – a bitter fruit with a sweet nature


Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), also known to me by its Sanskrit name karela, is taking the world by storm for its blood glucose lowering effects.  This fruit, which resembles a cucumber gone wrong, is native to Asia, India, South America and Africa.  Bitter melon, as the name would certainly suggest, has demonstrated to reduce both fasting glucose levels and postprandial glucose levels along with improving insulin sensitivity in both type 2 diabetic and non-diabetic subjects.


This fruit, which looks more like something a witch would put in her cauldron, has indicated several health benefits; e.g. recent research has demonstrated its effects on cancer cells.  Bitter melon extract increased cell death and inhibited cancer progression in mammalian breast cancer cells when treated in vitro for periods of 6 hours and 24 hours. It helps fight free radicals and demonstrates strong antioxidant activity due to its Vitamin C, beta-carotene and beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols.  The fruit has even demonstrated anti-ulcer activity which may be due to the increased mucus secretion protecting the stomach lining.  Is there anything this bubbly green fruit can’t do?


Bitter melon can be taken in a supplement, as a juice (30ml shots) and as a meal (even though it looks quite triffid-like!).  Many times whilst I was staying at an Ashram in Rajasthan north India I enjoyed karela (Bitter melon) curry so I have provided the following recipe so that you too can also enjoy this beneficial fruit.

Bitter Melon Curry

Nicola Callan

Clinical Nutritionist (Bsc of Health Science)

Naturopathy (Adv. Dip.)

FMT & Colonic Irrigation Therapist