Bitter Melon has been utilized in several studies within the last two decades, on various medical conditions and diseases. Over 100 studies using modern techniques have authenticated its use in diabetes and its complications (nephropathy, cataract, insulin resistance), as antibacterial as well as an antiviral agent (including HIV infection), anti carcinogenic and as an anti-parasitic.
In an animal model, bitter melon extract has been shown to lower blood glucose by suppressing its synthesis in the liver, on the one hand through depression of the key gluconeogenic (glucose formation from a non carbohydrate source i.e. proteins or fats) enzymes glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and on the other by enhancing glucose oxidation by the shunt pathway through activation of its principal enzyme G6PDH.
More recently bitter melon was found to have the potential for increasing insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes compared to those with type 1 disease.
Bitter melon displays cytotoxic (cell killing) activity. In one study a ribosome inhibiting protein (RIP) MCP30 has been shown to inhibit histone deacetylase-1 (HDAC-1) activity and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in prostate cancer cells.
Bitter melon is consumed as a food, however, consumption of the seeds, extracts, and large quantities of juice can cause adverse effects. Bitter melon may interact with certain drugs including chemotherapy agents such as vinblastine and paclitaxel. It also has additive blood sugar lowering effects when combined with insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents. Before using bitter melon you should speak with a medical professional.