Botanical Name: Momordica Charantia
Common Name: Bitter Gourd
Sanskrit: Angarvelli, Karavella, Urdhvaasitah
Hindi: Karela, Kathilla
Tamil: Pagarkai, Pagakkai , Pagarkkai
Malayalam: Kaipakka, Pavaykka
Manipuri: Karon akhabi
Marathi: Ambalem,Karali, Kareti
The Momordica Charantia is commonly known as Bitter Gourd, Bitter melon and Karela. This herbal plant has been used in folk medicine for centuries in parts of Africa, West Indies, India and China. The fruits of the tree are used as a relish when pickled and the seeds are a commonly used condiment. The fruit of the Momordica Charantia is very bitter and its bitterness can be reduced by soaking them in salt water. The dried fruits of the plant are sliced and used in many popular dishes made in India.
This crop grows in major tropical regions of India, Africa, China and even parts of America. This annual creeper has branched stems that are twining and slender. The leaf blades are usually 5 to 12 cms in diameter and are prominently nerved. The flowers are yellow in color and have a muricate ovary. The fruits are tuberculate, oblong and yellowish in color. They have numerous triangular spikes on the surface. The seeds of the plant are 1.3 cm long and are compressed with a sculptured facade.
The entire plant, its leaves and fruits are used in medicines across the globe.
The karela or bitter gourd has excellent medicinal qualities. It is an antipyretic tonic, appetizing, laxative and stomachic. It is used widely in medicinal science of Asia and Africa
The plant is recommended for relieving the problem of diabetes both in the normal diet and in the form of an herbal tea. It is also known for relieving asthma, skin infections, hypertension, and gastro intestinal ailments.
The bitter gourd pods contain minerals, vitamins, phosphorus, iron, carbohydrates, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and Vitamin B 6.
It also has hypoglycemic properties that help in normalizing blood sugar levels and is prescribed to diabetic patients.
Antilipolytic properties that is present in the herb because of the presence of amino acids in it.
Bitter Gourd is often recommended in Ayurveda as a general health tonic. Recent medical studies have indicated that the vegetable possesses a ‘plant-insulin’ which helps in lowering blood sugar levels.
The juice of the plant is also known to cure alcohol intoxication by cleansing and repairing the liver.
The high levels of beta-carotene and other beneficial compounds in Bitter Gourd make it one of the best vegetables for eye disorders.
Bitter Gourd lowers blood sugar levels and purifies the blood.
Since the vegetable contains natural laxative properties, it can help relieve constipation if eaten regularly.
The vegetable can be used to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis.