Bitter melon or karela is a plant that has been used as a natural antidiabetic by some indigenous populations, and it is a true gift from nature and a great aid for people suffering from malignant diseases. Scientific studies showed that this plant can actually serve as a cure for certain types of cancer due to the active ingredients which prevent the metabolism of glucose in malignant cells and ‘’starve’’ them by reducing their needed sugar.

Experts from Saint Louis University Cancer Center concluded that with its natural properties bitter melon can not only destroy cancer cells but also prevent from futher spreading. Further more, another team of experts from the Univercity of Colorado Cancer Center discovered that the side effects that occur during chemotherapy, can be eliminated by the melon juice which is usefull in slowing down the pancreatic tumor growth. Bitter melon is very important in nutrition because of its ingredient glycoprotein lectin since its activity resembles that of the insulin due to tha fact that it decreases glucose concentration in the blood and functions as an immunomodulator. This is the reason why this plant is very helpful in cases of liver, prostate, colon and lung cancer, leukemia and neuroblastoma. Unfortunately, pregnant, breastfeeding women and children should avoit consumption.

Bitter melon grows as a vine with yellow flowers and fragmented leaves, from the family Cucurbitaceae which can be found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Aisa, South America and the Caribbean. By its form is simmilar to zuccini, has an elongated shape. As it grows changes colors from green to orange-yellow one, and as it ripens more, it has more accentuated yellow color. The ripe fruit opens in three parts with many red seeds released. It is used as a medicine all around the world, and in Eastern populations mostly as food.

Nutritional value of 100 grams of fresh, raw bitter melon:

  • Vitamin K – 4.8 mg
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – 0,040 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0,040 mg
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) – 0,400 g
  • Vitamin C – 84 mg
  • Calories – 17 kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 3.70 g
  • Dietary fiber – 2.8 g
  • Fat – 0317 g
  • Folate – 27 µg
  • Protein – 1.00 g
  • Potassium – 296 mg
  • Calcium – 19 mg
  • Phosphorus – 31 mg
  • Magnesium – 17 mg
  • Sodium – 5 mg

This fruit is very bitter and because of  its healing properties is used in nutrition and for medicine preparation. The abundance of vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus are contained in the unripe fruits, while the ripe ones are rich in lectin that reduces blood sugar. Bitter melon is very beneficial fruit because it improves the immunity of cell functions, it kills cancerogenic cells in people with cancer and also treats HIV – infections. This plant also proved to be very helpful in the combat against free radicals – the culprits for degenerative diseases and the aging process. Another positive side of this plant is that has a small amount of calories, but high amount of  minerals and vitamins such as vitamin  B1, B2, B3, and C.

As we saw earlier, bitter lemon nowadays is frequently ised for weight loss, immunity boosting and liver detoxication. But in traditional medicine, Chinese and Indian, this plant served to treat fever, coughs, burns, peinful menstrual cycle, colic, skin conditions, etc. Moreover, its leaves are used for tea which treats and prevents malaria and viral diseases such as measles  and  chikenpox. There are several ways of consuming it like cooked, juiced, raw or in a tincture. Watch out, overconsumption can lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Accordin to newest studies, bitter melon is a potent tool in the fight against HIV infections, carcinomas, diabetes, and it also eliminates possbile toxins from the body.

Pancreatic cancer

The clinical study conducted by the University of Colorado Cancer Center showed that bitter melon can be used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer due to its extract which lowers the glucose metabolism in pancreatic cells thus destroying them. Scientists questioned whether they could apply the extrac directly to pancreatic cancer cells since the melon extract positively affects diabetes type 2, which is a predecessor of pancreatic cancer. The study on mices also showed that the ones fed with bitter juice, had 60% lesser chance of developing cancer than the control group.

Breast cancer

According to another study, published in 2010, melon extract can be used as a cure for breast cancer. Bitter melon helps in the treatment of breast cancer cells with its extract in a way in which it lowers the cells proliferation and induced apoptotic cell death. This apoptosis was followed by increased polymerase cleavage and caspace activation.

Breast cancer

Another study, published in 2010, deduced that bitter melon extract can cure breast cancer. The treatment of breast cancer cells with this extract resulted in lowering of the cells proliferation and induced apoptotic cell death. This apoptosis was followed by increased polymerase cleavage and caspase activation. The study also confirmed that BME modulates signal transduction pathways for inhibiton of breast cancer cell growth and can be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer.


Scienties decided to test bitter melon anti- diabetiv properties since it has been used as a natural cure for fiabetes for centures now. The isolated three major compounds from bitter melon, identified ad hypoglycemic agents:

Vicine – By intraperitoneal administration, vicine induces hypoglycemia in non-diabetic fasting rats.

A clinical study, conducted in January 2011 and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, confirmed that using 2000mg bitter melon per day, significantly decreased the blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes type 2, eventhough the hypoglecimic effect was lower than 100 mg day dose of Metformin.

Charantin – it is a typical cucurbitane: type triterpenoid and a substance with antidiabetiv properties. According to the research, this compound is more potent than the oral agent tolbutamide.

Polypeptide –p- a hypoglucemic protein which when injected subcutaneously, lowers blood glucose levels in gerbils, langurs and humans. It can be used as a plant-based insulin replacement in patients with diabetes type 1 because it resembles the action of human insulin in the body.

There are so many different studies which only confirm the benefits grom bitter melon in curing liver, prostate, and colon cancer.