Monday, December 28, 2009


Ampalaya is among the vegetable fruit propagated in the Philippines. It is grown in untamed location in the country like Batanes. The vegetable fruit presents a bitter taste because of its momordicin content. Its efficacy in medication of diabetes is widely supported by various researches in the world. It has been exposed to increase production of beta cells by the pancreas, thus improving the body’s ability to generate insulin. It is among the best herbal remedy because of its potentials to cures liver problems, diabetes and HIV as recommended by the Department of Health in the Philippines.

The utilization of ampalaya had been initiated in China 600 years ago and it gained its popularity due to beneficial influences in human health. Among the disease that Traditional Chinese Medicine utilized ampalaya for, is the metabolic syndrome. Metabollic syndrome is a disease that comprises insulin resistance, hypertension, cholesterol irregularities, and the increase risk of clotting.

Ampalaya which is also known as bitter melon is as well gaining its popularity in some Asian dishes. Even though it was dishonored due to its bitter savor, still its existence made it important to everybody because of its curative contents. Ampalaya is abundant in iron, beta-carotene, potassium, and some nutrients. The importance of the vegetable fruit is focused on its advantage which is the anti-diabetic traits. At first, the curative application of this fruit in treating diabetes is applied traditionally which is by crushing its raw fruits into a bitter tonic or by boiling its leaves and fruits for a few minutes. But with the result of various studies regarding its efficacy and healing characteristics towards several ailments like diabetes, various existences was made possible that produces a more convenient way of taking the fruit in the form of medicinal tablets and capsules.

Ampalaya grows in vines climbing with stems mounting up to 20 centimeters in height. It leaves renders a shape of a heart which is 5-10 cm in diameter divided into 5-7 lobes. It flowers are yellow in color around 15mm long having a pair of tiny leaf alike branch. Fleshy green fruit, oblong with pointed ends, ribbed and wrinkled, bursting when mature to release seeds. Seeds flat with ruminated margins.

Acquired the most noted methodical which refers to its advantage to lower blood sugar level. Researches throughout the world had discovered the plant compounds which bears the most appeals in the eye of every health advocates. This compound is known as polypeptide-P, a plant insulin which is notably known to lower blood sugar levels. This benefits originated from ampalaya fruit had been taken pleasured by various diabetes sufferers who engross ampalaya in their daily nutrition in different ways. The existence of the traditional application of the fruit associated with the subsistence of modern knowledge and technologies which authenticated the advantages of the plants, it turns out to be the most potential herb for diabetes.

The anti-diabetic trait of the fruit is corroborated by the two qualified expert. Dr. William D. Torres PhD, former Director of Philippine Bureau of Food and Drugs MS Pharmacognosy, PhD Biopharmaceutics University of Mississippi, USA, had presented that ampalaya fruits, leaves, seeds and other parts when applied in a form of dry powder, extracts, decoctions had evidently portrayed hypoglycemic activity both in vitro and vivo.

A. Raman, PhD and C. Lau, PhD of the Pharmacognosy Research Laboratories Department of Pharmacy King’s College London, United Kingdom also presented in its study that oral administration of fruit as tonic or pulverized seeds driven a decrease in rapid blood glucose and enhances glucose tolerance.

Among the several applications of the plant which is considered through various health practices proven by several researches are the following;

• Astringent
• Antidiabetic
• Abortifacient
• Antirheumatic
• Contraceptive
• Galactagogue
• Parasiticide
• Anthelmintic
• Purgative
• Emetic
• Antipyretic
• Febrifuge
• Emmenagogue
• Cooling
• Tonic

Vitamins & Minerals
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
• Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
• Vitamin B3 (niacin)
• Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
• Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
• Vitamin B9 (folate)
• Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
• Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol)
• Vitamin K (menadione)
• Calcium
• Copper
• Iron
• Magnesium
• Phosphorus
• Potassium
• Selenium
• Sodium
• Zinc

Ampalaya is propagated throughout the Philippines and is referred as an amazing health food. The fruit is a nutritious vegetable which had gained trust by various health advocates that could be of good usage as a medicinal herb.

Currently, the utilization of bitter melon as a beneficial supplement is widely accepted on various commercial variants all over the world. Its market had grown rapidly, probably because of the various presented studies relating its efficacy on human health. Lately it has been confirmed and proven to be an operative herbal medicine for various diseases. Among the most significant illness is diabetes because it contains a blend of flavanoids and alkanoids that let the pancreas generates more insulin that regulates blood sugar in diabetic sufferer.

Ampalaya not only offers a good medical value, it also offers a good nutritional importance because it renders some of the vital nutrients that the human body needed. Among the nutrients are the vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, iron, folic acid, phosphorus, and calcium of which for some studies, these nutrients play a vital role in promoting superior health. Ampalaya is also abundant in antioxidants that keep body cells safe from the harmful influences of free radicals.

Various ailments had been found to be manageable by the healthful qualities of ampalaya. Such ailments includes cough, fever, worms, diarrhea which are all can be influence by taking a spoonful of ampalaya juice which could be both from its fruit rinds or from its leaves. Fruit leaves can be use to heal wounds, burns and other form of fractures by grounding its leaves and place it on the affected area.

A research conducted by Jun Yin, Hanjie Zhang, and Jianping Ye involving Traditional Chinese Medicine in treatment for metabolic syndrome utilizing herb plants like ampalaya or bitter melon.

In management of metabolic syndrome, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an excellent representative in alternative and complementary medicines with a complete theory system and substantial herb remedies. In this article, basic principle of TCM is introduced and 22 traditional Chinese herbs are reviewed for their potential activities in the treatment of metabolic syndrome. Three herbs, ginseng, rhizoma coptidis (berberine, the major active compound) and bitter melon, were discussed in detail on their therapeutic potentials. Ginseng extracts made from root, rootlet, berry and leaf of Panax quinquefolium(American ginseng) and Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng), are proved for anti-hyperglycemia, insulin sensitization, islet protection, anti-obesity and anti-oxidation in many model systems. Energy expenditure is enhanced by ginseng through thermogenesis. Ginseng-specific saponins (ginsenosides) are considered as the major bioactive compounds for the metabolic activities of ginseng. Berberine from rhizoma coptidis is an oral hypoglycemic agent. It also has anti-obesity and anti-dyslipidemia activities. The action mechanism is related to inhibition of mitochondrial function, stimulation of glycolysis, activation of AMPK pathway, suppression of adipogenesis and induction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor expression. Bitter melon or bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) is able to reduce blood glucose and lipids in both normal and diabetic animals. It may also protect β cells, enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce oxidative stress. Although evidence from animals and humans consistently supports the therapeutic activities of ginseng, berberine and bitter melon, multi-center large-scale clinical trials have not been conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of these herbal medicines.

The Department of Applied Biological Chemistry, Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo as well as the Research of Institute Kagome Co. have conducted a research on the Inhibitory effect of ampalaya or bitter melon extract on the P-glycoprotein activity in intestinal Caco-2 cells.

1. Extracts of bitter melon, soybean, dokudami and welsh onion by 40% methanol increased the accumulation of rhodamine-123 by Caco-2 cells, suggesting that these extracts inhibited P-glycoprotein (P-gp).
2. The extract of bitter melon was separated in a tC18 cartridge column and the eluate from 80% acetonitrile most markedly increased the [3H]-daunomycin accumulation by Caco-2 cells.
3. The inhibitory compounds in the bitter melon fraction were isolated by HPLC with Pegasil C4 and Pegasil ODS columns. The HPLC fraction having the highest activity was analyzed by 1H-NMR and FAB-MS, and the active compound was identified as 1-monopalmitin.
4. The inhibitory activities of 1-monopalmitin and its related compounds suggested that the inhibition of P-gp activity was not dependent on the degree of unsaturation of fatty acid in the monoglyceride, but on the chain length. It was also suggested that the monoglyceride structure played an important role in the inhibition of P-gp activity.
5. Monoglycerides could therefore alter the pharmacokinetics of drugs by inhibiting the P-gp-mediated efflux.

A cohort of researchers conducted a study on the lipid lowering effects of ampalaya or bitter melon in HIV-1-protease inhibitor-treated human hepatoma cells.

• Hyperlipidemic effects of HIV-1-protease inhibitors (PI) are associated with increased hepatic production of triglyceride (TG)-rich lipoproteins, rather than lipoprotein clearance. PI are known to increase apolipoprotein B (apoB) secretion, apoC-III mRNA expression and decrease apoA-1 secretion. Nutritional therapy remains an important strategy to manage PI-associated hyperlipidemia.
• This study investigated the in vitro efficacy of Asian vegetable, Momordica charantia or bitter melon (BM) to ameliorate PI-associated apoB and lipid abnormalities in HepG2 cells.
• Our study demonstrates that bitter melon juice (BMJ) significantly reduced apoB secretion and apoC-III mRNA expression and normalized apoA-I expression in PI-treated HepG2 cells. BMJ also significantly reduced cellular TG and microsomal TG transfer protein, suggesting that lipid bioavailability and lipidation of apoB assembly may play a role in decreased apoB secretion.
• Identifying molecular targets of BM may offer alternative dietary strategies to decrease PI-associated hyperlipidemia and improve quality of life among HIV-1-infected patients.

Source: PubMed


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