Botanical Name :: Monordica charantia
Other English Names :: Bitter cucumber, Bitter melon , and Balsam pear
Indian Name :: Karela
The bitter gourd is a common vegetable cultivated extensively all over India. It is 10 to 20 cm. long, tapering at the ends and covered with blunt tubercles The seeds are white in raw fruits and become red when they are ripe. There are two varieties of this vegetable. The large kind is long, oblong and pale green in color. The other kind is small, little oval and dark green. Both the types are bitter in taste. They turn reddish-orange when ripe.
Origin and Distribution of Bitter Gourd
The original home of bitter gourd is not known except that it is a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines, China and the Caribbean.
Minerals and Vitamins
|Moisture – 92.4%||Calcium – 20 mg|
|Protein – 1.6%||Phosphorus – 70 mg|
|Fat – 0.2%||Iron – 1.8 mg|
|Fibre – 0.8%||Vitamin C – 88 mg|
|Minerals – 0.8%||Small amount of Vitamin B Complex|
|Carbohydrates – 4.2%||* Values per 100 gm’s edible portion|
|** International Unit||Calorific Value – 25|
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Bitter Gourd
The bitter gourd has excellent medicinal virtues. It is antidotal, antipyretic tonic, appetizing, stomachic, antibilious and laxative. The bitter gourd is also used in native medicines of Asia and Africa.
- Diabetes:- The bitter gourd is specifically used as a folk medicine for diabetes. Recent researches by a team of British doctors have established that it contains a hypoglycemic or insulin like principle, designated as ‘plant insulin’, which has been found highly beneficial in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels. It should, therefore, be included liberally in the diet of the diabetic. For better results, the diabetic should take the juice of about four or five fruits every morning on an empty stomach. The seeds of bitter gourd can be added to food in the powdered form. Diabetics can also use bitter gourd in the form of decoction by boiling the pieces in water or in the form of dry powder.
A majority of diabetics usually suffer from malnutrition as they are usually under-nourished. Bitter gourd being rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, B1, B2, C and Iron, its regular use prevents many complications such as hypertension, eye complications, neuritis and defective metabolism of carbohydrates. It increases body’s resistance against infection.
- Piles:- Juice of the fresh leaves of bitter gourd is valuable in piles. Three teaspoonfuls of leaf juice mixed with a glassful of butter milk should be taken every morning for about a month in this condition. A paste of the roots of bitter gourd plant can also be applied over piles with beneficial results.
- Blood Disorders:- Bitter gourd is highly beneficial in the treatment of blood disorders like blood boils, scabies, itching, psoriasis, ringworm and other fungal diseases, A cupful of fresh juice of bitter gourd mixed with a teaspoonful of lime juice should be taken, sip by sip, on empty stomach daily for four to six months in these conditions. Its regular use in endemic regions of leprosy acts as a preventive medicine.
- Respiratory Disorders:- Bitter gourd plant roots are used in folk medicine for respiratory disorders from ancient times. A teaspoonful of the root paste mixed with equal amount of honey or basil leaf juice, given once every night for a month acts as an excellent medicine for asthma, bronchitis, pharyngitis, colds and rhinitis
- Alcoholism:- Leaf juice is beneficial in the. treatment of alcoholism. It is an antidote for alcohol intoxication. It is also useful in liver dam age due to alcoholism.
- Cholera:- Fresh juice of leaves of bitter gourd is also an effective medicine in early stages of cholera and other types of diarrhea during summer Two teaspoonfuls of this juice mixed with equal quantity of white onion juice and a teaspoonful of lime juice should be given in these conditions.
Uses of Bitter Gourd
The bitter gourd is cooked and eaten as a vegetable in India and the Far East. The bitterness is reduced by steeping the peeled fruit in salt water before cooking. It is also used in pickles and as an ingredient of curries. The seeds of the ripe fruit are used as a condiment in India. The lender shoo Is and leaves are used as spinach.