Wikipedia's description of Bitter Melon
1. Bitter Melon (Ampalaya). This is a tropical and subtropical vegetable vine with oblong-shaped fruit, green when unripe, yellow when ripe, with distinct warty-looking exterior containing a bitter taste from its compound called momordicine. It is a safe traditional supplement of insulin for type II diabetes.
2 . Diabetes Mellitus (Type II Diabetes). This is a nutritional disorder, characterized by elevated blood glucose (sugar), excretion of excess glucose in the urine, resulting from lack of insulin which leads to abnormal metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
Some Established Scientific Findings About the Health Benefits of Bitter Melon
2. Bitter melon is more effective than a conventional drug in lowering elevated blood glucose, with no known side effects.
3. Bitter melon is the best herbal medicine for diabetes management, recently recommended by the Department of Health, Philippines.
Three Major Components Responsible for the Sugar-level Lowering Action
Bitter melon has three major compounds and other minor compounds working with each other to give it its potency. Recommendation of its use is therefore viewed as safe and effective.
1. Charantin - This compound is mixed with streroids, more effective than tolbutamide- an oral hypoglycemic drug.
2. Polypeptide P - (bouvine insulin) - It appears to lower blod glucose level in type I insulin-dependent diabetes.
3. Oleanolic acid glycocides - It is found to improve glucose tolerance in type II diabetes by promoting absorption of sugar from the intestine.
Bitter melon has been reputed to help increase the number of beta cells (cells that secrete insulin in the pancreas) thereby improving the body's capability to produce natural insulin. Insulin promotes the uptake/absorption of sugar from the blood by cells and tissues. Other compounds that make the potency of bitter melon are its flavanoids and alcaloids content.
How Does Bitter Melon Work For Better Health?
First - It controls blood sugar by two-fold.
1. Its combined compounds control blood sugar or serve as mediator between the cells in the body and the insulin already produced in the pancreas. It must be noted that type II diabetics and most people with high blood glucose still produce insulin, but their bodies have become resistant to it.
2. Bitter melon blocks the formation of glucose in the bloodstream by breaking down the barriers that prevent body cells from using their natural insulin.
Second - This anti diabetic supplement has been known to increase production of beta cells by the pancreas, thus, improving the body's ability to produce and release insulin. Bitter melon has become a most widely used traditional remedy for diabetes , famous among the Chinese and in most Asian countries. It is proven to increase glucose tolerance and to help the body process blood sugar. It is likewise given wide approval as a safe and effective insulin supplement because aside from it being grown naturally, it is also used with no artificial additives or preservatives.
I'm a type II insulin-dependent diabetic user of bitter melon (ampalaya) in different forms- fruits, leaves, vines added in menus with meat, fish, eggs, and other vegetables for my diet plan. Instead of coffee or milk, I go for ampalaya tea for my hot or cold beverage. With the high cost of the injectable insulin for my weekly medication to control my blood glucose levels, I'm often faced with a dilemma. Very often, this commodity is out of stock. I feel panic whenever I were told to wait for days before delivery of the goods resume. Having researched quite enough about the insulin content, I would buy the Charantia fruit bits in tea bags or capsule form for short-term alternate until the injection becomes available. However, I do a lot of finger-pricking to monitor my sugar levels. And it really works!
Instead of drinking fruit concentrate with sugar or cola drinks, I prefer my home-made ampalaya tea. When I'm in trouble between my morning and evening insulin shots when I'm not supposed to pump more or less, I go for a hot cup of my home-made concoction. One such instance happened one evening at around 10:00 during the wake of my late brother. I was away from home. I was feeling weak and sleepy- signs that are hard to differentiate if it was hyperglycemia (elevated Blood Glucose) or hypoglycemia( dropped BG). My daughter quickly gave me a prick and found out I had 297mg/dl BG count. I begged that someone find me ampalaya fruits or leaves to boil into a concoction- the bitter, the better.
In no time at all, I was given a hot cup of ampalaya tea. I rested for about two hours. The next prick yielded a lower count. Another cup gave me a good night sleep. The following morning, my prick showed 107mg/dl. But I always saw to it that I don't do it in a drastic manner- meaning decreasing at a breakneck speed. This gives my body a time to adjust slowly. I had been saved on several occasions of irritating feelings of both hyper and hypo. This makes me believe that bitter melon helps control my BG to at least near normal range (I seldom arrive at the normal).
Ready-Made Sundried Ampalaya Tea For My Pantry
Yes, I have a good stock of sun-dried ampalaya fruits in my pantry. In May, summertime, the small deep green variety of bitter melon is abundant in the market. And besides drying them out under the sun is very easy. This is a very practical move. Sufficiently dried fruits kept in tight canisters or glass bottles can go year-round without spoilage. They are just ready for boiling anytime of the day.
Three kilos of bitter melon at 45 pesos per kilo will go a long way. How do you prepare your stock?
1. Wash the fruits thoroughly under a running faucet or with any clean, potable water source to wash away impurities.
2. Slice each fruit in thin circles,from end to end, seeds included, not too thin to give allowance for drying with the end in view of making them crispy and stiff.
3. Arrange the slices neatly spaced for even drying in a clean "bilao"- a round flat native bamboo basket.
4. Set the "bilao" where the sun directly shines. Never leave it under the rain, which sometimes come unexpectedly even at summertime. Soaking it makes drying difficult. Chances are, before the slices have dried, they would ripen which make them soft and limp to touch.
5. Takes from 4 to 5 days to really dry. It's sufficiently dried if they give that aromatic smell.
6. Let the sun-dried pieces cool overnight. Don't refrigerate, less they become damp and at risk of spoilage.
Bitter melon may have additive effects when taken with other drugs whose action is to lower BG levels. Care must be exercised especially when used in addition to insulin. Spacing the time of your shots and drinking the beverage will be safe. There are no traditional dose of use of ampalaya in any of its form as in juice, powder, vegetable pulp, or tea/beverage. But further studies are underway, about use of ampalaya with no known side effects that will compromise one's health. Just the same, a doctor's recommendation must always be considered.