Himalaya – Karela
Eating Karela is common in Asia. In fact, on the Health Canada website, in the “Treat Your Taste Buds” section, eating Karela is recommended as a uniquely valuable, nutritious food (Choosing Vegetables and Fruits, HealthCanada, February 2008). .
The fruit and seeds contain a polypeptide, p-insulin, which is considered structurally and pharmacologically similar to bovine insulin (Fitoterapia, 60, 1989, Chemical Abstract 112, 1990).
The seeds and fruit contain an HIV inhibitor protein, MAP-30 (momordica anti-HIV-protein) which exhibits antiviral and antitumor activity in vitro (Chemical Abstract, 113, 1990; Fitoterapia, 117, 1992). Another protein, MRK-29, found in the seeds and fruit of a smaller variety of Karela from Thailand, inhibits HIV reverse transcriptase and increases tumor necrosis factor (killer cells) (Planta Medica, 67, 2001, Natural MedicinesComprehensive Database 2007). The plant is also rich in vitamin A and C, beta-carotene, as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron and potassium.
- Anti-diabetic: Karela with its main ingredients, charantin and momordisin, supports normal blood sugar levels. Other main ingredients such as bisin, peptides and polypeptide-p (plant insulin) work together to give the fruit-vegetable its anti-hyperglycemic effect. Karela enhances peripheral utilization of glucose and increases serum protein levels. It also increases glucose absorption and fatty acid oxidation and improves insulin sensitivity. Karela significantly reduces hyperglycemia, levels of glycated hemoglobin (Hb A1C), total cholesterol and free fatty acids (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, August 2008, 81(2), 134–43).
- Insulin mimetics: Insulin is responsible for maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Karela, by acting like insulin and increasing its secretion, helps reduce high blood sugar levels. It also possesses antioxidant properties which, by removing free radicals, contribute to reducing the risk of diabetic complications.
Hepatoprotective: The fruit extract has been shown to significantly increase the active liver enzymes glutathione S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase, which are believed to help prevent hepatotoxicity (International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research, Volume 1, Issue 2 , March/April 2010).
- Hypolipidemic: The components of Karela improve the lipid profile. They reduce the secretion of apolipoprotein B by the liver, which is the main protein of low density or “bad” cholesterol. They also decrease apolipoprotein C-III, which is found in low-density cholesterol and is converted to LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while, conversely, increasing apolipoprotein A-1, the main protein component of high-density or “good” cholesterol. They also lower triglyceride levels. Karela fruit and seeds have been shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels both in the presence and absence of dietary cholesterol (International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research, Volume 1, Issue 2, March/April 2010).
- Antipsoriatic: Karela inhibits the action of the enzyme guanylate cyclase, which may benefit patients suffering from psoriasis.
Indications: As an auxiliary drug in diabetes mellitus
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