A group of scientists belonging to three developing countries – India, Thailand and Tanzania – is trying to find out the ideal variety of the ‘bitter gourd’ (Karela) that is believed to check diabetes from ancient times.
They are studying 10 hybrids of the Indian bitter gourd by analyzing the germplasm and chemical constituents, particularly momordicin, in Hyderabad(Andhra Pradesh-India), Arusha(Tanzania) and Bangkok(Thailand).
“We are screening germplasm and will be selecting the best varieties high in anti-diabetic compounds as well as those with good horticulture traits,” a senior scientist associated with the project said.
The scientists are keen to find out whether Karela really fights the diabetes as it has been widely used in India for generations and mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic texts.
People believe that the vegetable grown in the backyard these days has lost its anti-diabetic properties with the cultivation of a series of hybrid varieties for commercial purpose. This could be felt as the commercial variety is short of the original bitterness and pungency as against the original fruit.
They try to identify which of the 10 hybrids has the higher content of the anti-diabetic chemical – momordicin available in these countries, besides finding ways to increase the bioactive compounds to make it more effective. The fruit also contains charantin, lectin and gurmarin.
Karela, more commonly known as bitter melon, is known worldwide for its miraculous medicinal properties. It is a natural wonder that has proven to be very beneficial for people with a number of diseases, particularly diabetes.
Karela supposedly stimulates insulin secretion metabolizing glucose in our body as it activates pancreas and bile to absorb and secrete juices properly.
It also helps in the digestion of carbohydrate, which is retained in the body as sugar. Karela is supposedly good in lowering the body’s blood sugar level.
As the herbal treatment for diabetes and its side effects still have to be scientifically proven, bitter gourd has been used as a supplement and not the ultimate cure on a use it alone basis.
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