Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) is a commonly consumed tropical vegetable. Ayurvedic science and medical science have both proven the beneficial effects of this vegetable in prevention and treatment of diabetes. Infact Bitter Gourd's (BG) anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, antiviral and anticancer activities have been well established in human studies in the past decades.
Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a metabolic disorder characterized by abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and insulin resistance, and is well-established indicator for high risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and cardiovascular diseases. Due to rapid transitions toward excessive energy intake and sedentary lifestyle, MetS has become a major health problem worldwide affecting about 34% of US and 23.1% of Taiwan populations.
AdvertisementWild Bitter Gourd (WBG) has shown to ameliorate metabolic syndrome in animal studies. Nevertheless, it remains unclear if WBG has beneficial effects on MetS in humans or not.
Mechanism of action:
It has been known that Peroxisome Proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are nuclear receptors that control lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. The activation of these receptors helps to treat MetS.
In animal models, WBG has been seen to up-regulate PPARγ and PPARα-mediated pathways which are associated with improved MetS, together with the long established evidence of Bitter Gourd's role in the improvement of insulin resistance.
Therefore a study was conducted to evaluate the role of wild bitter gourd supplementation on MetS in Taiwanese adults.
A trial was conducted of eligible individuals from May 2008 to April 2009 and a total of 42 people (21 men and 21 women) aged between 23 to 63 years were supplemented with 4.8 gram lyophilized WBG powder in capsules daily for three months. They were checked for MetS at enrollment and monthly follow-up. After the supplements was ceased, the participants were checked for MetS monthly over an additional three-month period.
The MetS incidence rate was seen to decrease by 7.1 percent in the visit 2 versus 11.9 percent in visit 7 as compared to that at baseline (visit 1). The decrease in incidence rate was highest at the end of the three-month supplementation period and it was significantly different from that at baseline.
At the same time the positive effect was seen only till the end of fourth month (one month after the cessation of supplementation) as the effect diminished at the 5th and 6th months after baseline. The waist circumference also significantly decreased after the supplementation. The positive effect lasted only till the participants were subjected to WBG supplementation.
The study clearly proves that WBG supplementation improves metabolic syndrome and has immense potential to benefit people living with it. The study forms a firm base for further studies to evaluate the efficacy of WBG supplementation.
Reference: Wild bitter gourd improves metabolic syndrome: A preliminary dietary supplementation trial; Chung Huang et al; Nutrition Journal 2012.
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