Bitter melon or bitter squash is in the Cucurbitaceae family and it grows in the tropical regions around the world. It is grown for it's bitter fruit which is among the most bitter fruit on earth. Bitter melon is now grown all over the tropical regions of the world including the Caribbean and southern Florida. It is unknown where the first bitter melons were grown.
The fruit is mostly eaten green as it is turning from green to yellow and it is similar to a cucumber or bell pepper in texture. As the fruit gets riper you can not eat the green part of the fruit but it's interior or pith will turn red and it is very sweet at this point. When the pith turns bright red it is often used in tropical fruit salads.
In India the Green Bitter Melon is often sliced into small green slices and cooked with coconut and curry paste to make a dish that is quite often eaten by people with type II diabetes to help to level out and balance their blood sugar levels. In India and the middle east herbal remedies are used much more often than here in the United States.
The Luffa Sponge Is A Bitter Melon
The Luffa Sponge Gourd is a member of the Bitter Melon family. In Canada the Luffa Sponge Gourd is known as Chinese Okra. Though it tastes nothing like okra. In India I've had the immature Luffa Sponge gourd cut up into small green pieces and made into a delicious curry.
You can grow the Luffa Sponge Gourd here in the American south. You let the gourds mature on the vine until they are mature and then you hang them up and let them dry. Once they are dry the skins will peel off and you can shake the seeds out to plant them next year. These Luffa Sponge Gourds make wonderful sponges to wash your body with. You can cut them into small pieces and use them as a disposable dish washing sponge. I usually make six dish washing sponges out of one mature Luffa Sponge Gourd. I have a whole row of them up now at the back of the garden.They will soon be growing up over their trellis ans by fall I'll have a huge crop of the Luffa Sponge Gourds.
Herbs and plants continue to amaze me at all their wonderful medicinal properties. Do you know that in Chinese Herbal Medicine that the green Luffa Sponge Gourds are cooked and given to people with the shingles for almost immediate relief of the skin break out of shingles.
They also say that when you eat the green immature Luffa Sponge Gourds in curry that it will help with muscle pain, arthritis pain, painful testicles, hemorrhoids, and increase the milk flow in nursing mothers. I bet you didn't know that the luffa sponge could be eaten when still green and I bet you had no ideal at all the wonderful medicinal things it could do for you.
More Information About Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon has long been used to treat diabetes. And recent research seems to support Bitter Melon being able to stabilize blood sugar levels. The active ingredients in Bitter Melon improves the bodies ability to use blood sugar correctly and it improves glucose tolerance levels making it easier for the body to be less insulin resistant.
My Own Research Project With The Bitter Melon And My A1C Levels.
Studies have shown that it's the fruit juices in the Bitter Melon that renews or allows the beta cells in the pancreas to make insulin again. If this study is correct it may well be one of the most important discoveries of our time. I have started eating Bitter Melon and my bodies resistance to insulin appears to have improved. I'm going to keep eating the Bitter Melon in curry at least once a week and see if my A1C numbers will continue to come down. Before I started to take the Bitter Melon my A1C number was above 12. After eating the Bitter Melon once a week for a month my A1C number dropped to 10.5. So it's clear that the A1C was effected by the Bitter Melon. And I think it would do the same in any one else with insulin resistant diabetes.
If your currently taking medications for diabetes or insulin be sure that you discuss taking Bitter Melon with your doctor. You don't want your blood sugar levels to drop to rapidly. So be sure to discuss Bitter Melon with your doctor before you use it.
One of the most important discoveries ever about Bitter Melon is that it may be able to help with treating infections caused by retrovirus. This has lead to several research projects into the possibility that the fruit juices contained in Bitter Melon may be able to slow down or even stop the HIV virus in the human body.
You Can Make Delicious Stir Fries With Bitter Melon.
If your interested in using Bitter Melon you can find it usually at Asian Food Markets and often at your local flea market. Bitter Melon can be peeled and cut up and then you combine it with garlic, ginger, lime, and cilantro in stir fry dishes. You can also add small pieces of cut up chicken or fish to this stir fry and I like to add red curry paste. I eat mine over noodles or rice and cooked this way it is really delicious. Check out the little Asian food section in your local grocery store or supermarket to see what you can find there. Sometimes they will stock things like Bitter Melon Candy or drinks made from Bitter Melon. Just be sure to read the label on the product.
You'll also find Bitter Melon offered in several other ways especially in Asian Food Markets. It comes in everything from candy to drinks made from Bitter Melon. See the drink above made from Bitter Melon.
Make And Drink Bitter Melon Tea.
You'll also find the dried melon being sold as a tea. If your going to make the tea first of all be sure that the product your being offered really is dried Bitter Melon. If your sure of that then you can make Bitter Melon Tea. For each cup of Bitter Melon Tea you want to end up with add a teaspoon of dried Bitter Melon to your tea ball.
A tea ball is a metal ball with lots of holes that you can screw apart and make herb tea by adding the dried herb inside the tea ball. You then screw it back together and drop it into your boiling water. With Bitter Melon you want your water to boil. You can add raw honey to your hot tea as a natural sweetener and the Bitter Melon tea made this way is quite delicious. I also add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to mine. But that's really up to you. I will tell you that it's better for you with the honey and lemon both in it. The tea made from dried Bitter Melon is nowhere near as bitter as the fresh melon and with the honey and lemon in it it's actually quite tasty with some what of a nutty flavor to it. I hope you will check it out soon. Right now I'm drinking it about four times a day. I've become rather addicted to it and it's effect on my blood sugar levels.
Near me is a great Flea Market where many great products like dried Bitter Melon and other products are sold. But one important thing you need to be sure you do is to do extensive personal research so you will be able to look at dried bitter melon and be able to say yes that's it. Or no it's not. And once you find a vendor who does sell what they claim it is shop with that vendor and support them so they will come back to keep selling their products.
How Do Your Find Bitter Melon And Other Herbs And Herbal Remedies.
If your having trouble finding herbs or herbal remedies in your are check out the yellow pages and see where the nearest Asian market is from where your located. Most Asian markets and stores will often stock some Asian herbs, teas, and herbal remedies. Again just be sure you know what your buying. Do through research so you'll know what your buying.
More Bitter Melon Information
Karela which is made from Bitter Melon and eaten in India has been shown to slow down and even stop the spread of Breast Cancer cells. Alpha-Eleostearic Acid which is found in Bitter Melon ha been found to slow down and stop Colon and Leukemia cancer cells. Chinese Herbal Practitioners tell people to drink beverages made from Bitter Melon. There are many research projects currently going on about Bitter Melon and it's effect on cancer and HIV but those studies have not yet been completed or revealed to the public.
So once again I'm going to tell you to do extensive research. If you're thinking of using Bitter Melon for medical reasons do extensive research about it and discuss your plans with your doctor. Take any research with you when you talk to your doctor. If your doctor refuses to cooperate with you and your desire to use Bitter Melon or other herbal remedies find a different doctor. Or go to a herbal practitioner. If you do go to a Herbal Practitioner check that person out carefully and learn everything you can about that person.
Thanks For Reading My Hub Page On Bitter Melon.
I hope you found the information here about Bitter Melon helpful and I really do hope there is information here that can help you. If you do have any questions please post them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading. I appreciate it and look forward to your comments.
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Please post your comments, tips, or suggestions about Bitter Melon now. Thanks For Reading and SHARING.
Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on May 28, 2014:
Yes they are associated with Papa Legba. Surprised you knew that. Thanks for a great reminder and nice comment.
Kitty Fields from Summerland on May 28, 2014:
I used to have these grow wild in my backyard...and knew they were associated with Papa Legba of Vodou tradition. :)
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 26, 2012:
Voting you up and awesome. I have heard of Bitter Mellon, but never tried it.
I will research it.
Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on May 16, 2012:
It is a funny looking fruit when ripe but it does work and works well. Thanks for your comment.
MaryBeth Walz from Maine on May 16, 2012:
What an interesting hub! And that is one funky looking fruit. Thanks for the great info - voted up and shared!