Bitter Melon Could Help Fight Diabetes, Obesity
Melon, a plant eaten and used medicinally in much of
Asia, could help provide the basis of new drugs for
treating diabetes and obesity, an international team
of researchers reports.
Also known as balsam pear, the
vegetable has been shown to reduce blood sugar in
animal and human studies. Alternatives are needed to
existing drugs for diabetes, they add, due to their
side effects and limited action.
the current study, researchers isolated and
described several compounds from bitter melon known
as cucurbitane triterpenoids, and tested their
effects on glucose (sugar) and fat metabolism in
cells and in mice. When tested in muscle and fat
cells, the researchers found, the compounds
stimulated the glucose receptor GLUT4 to move from
the cell interior to the cell surface, thus
promoting more effective glucose metabolism. Several
of the tested compounds had effects comparable to
those of insulin.
Tests in mice of two of the
compounds found that they promoted both glucose
tolerance and fat burning, and one was particularly
effective in promoting glucose tolerance in animals
consuming high fat diets. The researchers note that
there may be as many as 70 active compounds in
The present study provides an
important basis for further analysis of
structure-activity relationship to develop optimized
leads from (bitter melon) for the treatment of
insulin resistance and obesity.