With at least three active ingredients that reportedly lower blood sugar levels, bitter melon is used as an herbal remedy for managing type 2 diabetes, reports Diabetes.co.uk. Eating bitter melon thereby affects insulin levels, as less insulin is needed to reduce blood glucose.
While scientific studies have investigated the effects of bitter melon on glycemic control, the results are inconclusive. Some of the research results demonstrate that blood sugar levels were lowered, yet flaws were found in the studies, according to WebMD.
Charantin, vicine and polypeptide-p are all found in bitter melon, and either separately or all together, these compounds are reported to reduce blood sugar. This fruit also contains a lectin that lowers blood glucose by suppressing appetite and impacting peripheral tissues in the same way that insulin impacts the brain, explains Diabetes.co.uk.
Bitter melon, also called bitter gourd, is an oblong-shaped fruit with a very bumpy skin that grows in tropical and subtropical regions, as Diabetes.co.uk notes. It is eaten fresh, as a juice, or in powder or extract form. The fruit is sold in speciality grocery stores, while health food stores sell the other versions. WebMD recommends that people who are sensitive to fava beans avoid bitter melon, as it can cause a similar problem.