Bitter gourd (Momordica
) 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.
Wild 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
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.
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
Reference: Wild bitter gourd
improves metabolic syndrome: A preliminary dietary supplementation trial; Chung
Huang et al; Nutrition Journal 2012.