Thursday, June 12, 2008

Momordica Charantia, Linn

Family - Cucurbitaceae

Names - Hindi - Karela

English - Bitter Gourd

Sanskrit - Karavella

Bengali - Karela

Marathi - Karle

Kannada - Hagal

Tamil - Pakal, Pavakka

Malayalam - Kaippakaya

Description: It is a climber, stem is slender pubescent with suborbicular leaves and single pale flowers. Fruits are 5-25 cm long, pendulous, fusiform, beaked and ribbed with many tubercles. Brown seed, 13-16 cm long compressed in bulb of fruit.

Distribution: Plant is cultivated during hot season and available in Indian market as vegetable.

Parts used: Roots, leaves and fruits.

Phytochemicals: Different types of compounds have been isolated viz., bitter glycosides, saponins, alkaloids, reducing sugars, phenolics, oils, free acids, polypeptides, sterols, 17-amino acids including methionine and a crystalline products named p-insulin.

Vitamins - B1, B2 and C

Minerals - Calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.


Hypoglycemic (reducing sugar in the blood), astringent (arresting secretion), anti-haemorrhoidal (tending to arrest or prevent bleeding), stomachic (promoting digestion improve appetite), emmenagogue (inducing menstruation), galactogogue (increase the secretion or flow of milk), hepatic stimulant, anthelmintic (power to destroy worms) and blood purifier.

Forms of use: In form or juice, decoction (in liquid form after boiling), and powder.

Medicinal uses

(a) In Diabetes

Bitter gourd (Karela) is the most efficient drug found to be effective in controlling the blood sugar. A lot of work has been done to study hypoglycemic and anti-diabetic activity of Karela. Its root leaves and fruit extracts are used as folk remedy for diabetes mellitus from ancient times and proved to be powerful hypoglycemic agents. It is used in the various forms as written below:

100 gm. of fresh Karela powder in a divided dose two times for 2 weeks bring down sugar level consider�ably.

Juice of its leaves or concentrated extract has same hypoglycemic properties like tolbutamide. So juice of Karela two tablespoonfuls two times for a month controls diabetes.

A mixture of Jamun, Gurmar, Neem and Karela (leaves only) in the ratio 2:1:1:2 is found to be effective remedy for diabetes.

(b) Other uses

The roots are used as astringent and in piles. The fruits are stomachic and also used in gout, rheumatism and in liver and spleen diseases. Fruit juice with sugar used in stomatitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth) and as an emmenagogue in dysmenorrhoea (pain occurring in the back and lower abdomen at or about the time of the menses).

The juice of leaves is used as an emetic (producing vomiting), purgative (promotes evacuation of the bowel) in bilious affections and also in relieving burning of the soles of the feet. The fruits and leaves are used as anthelmintic and also in piles, jaundice and as vermifuge (any substance which causes the expulsion of parasitic worms). Leaves act as a galactogogue (secretion of milk). The leaf juice with black pepper is applied locally for night blindness. The fruit juice given for 3 days (25 ml) once in the morning is said to exert contraceptive effect.

Doses-Juice 10-15 mI, Powder 2-5 g.

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