Bitter melon or Momordica charantia is a plant that grows extensively across many areas of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. It comes in many varieties, each producing wartly, oblong fruit known for it’s extremely bitter taste. Around 32 active chemicals have been identified in the juice of bitter melon to date, including beta-sitosterol-d-glucoside, citrulline, GABA, lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin. They are also a great source of vitamins and minerals, with, 100 grams of bitter melon containing calcium (19 mg), carbohydrates (4 g), copper (0.034 mg), dietary fiber (3 g), dietary folate (72 mcg), folate (72 mcg), food folate (5.6 mcg), iron (0.43 mg), magnesium (17 mg), manganese (0.089 mg), Pantothenic Acid (0.212 mcg), phosphorus (31 mg), potassium ( 296 mg), protein (1 g), selenium (0.2 mcg), sodium (5 mg), Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, and zinc (0.8 mg).
Also, the USDA National Nutrient database states that, 100 grams of bitter melon contains 17 Kcal of energy, 0.17g total fat, niacin (0.400 mg), pyridoxine (0.043 g), Riboflavin (0.040 mg), and Thiamin (0.040 mg).
Bitter melon has long been used as a natural remedy for fever, burns, chronic coughs, painful menstrual cramps and minor skin conditions, with some areas claiming that it can prevent and treat malaria. But more recently it has been found to have a positive affect on the regulation of insulin, which could be promising to advance the treatments of both diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to treat, partly because it is often discovered later than other forms of cancer. Prognosis of pancreatic cancer is extremely poor, suggesting critical needs for additional drugs to improve disease outcome. Traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not often particularly successful in treating this type of cancer. This has led scientists to look elsewhere for therapies that can assist in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
Studies of bitter melon have shown that those suffering with diabetes are able to control their levels of insulin by taking bitter melon juice. Diabetes is often considered to be a precursor for pancreatic cancer, as the cancerous tumours have insulin receptors. Ingesting glucose aids in their growth and multiplication. Scientists are therefore testing bitter melon juice as a possible alternative treatment for this form of cancer.
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