Bitter melon: a panacea for inflammation and cancer.
Chin J Nat Med. 2016 Feb ;14(2):81-100. PMID: 26968675
Prasad R Dandawate
Nature is a rich source of medicinal plants and their products that are useful for treatment of various diseases and disorders. Momordica charantia, commonly known as bitter melon or bitter gourd, is one of such plants known for its biological activities used in traditional system of medicines. This plant is cultivated in all over the world, including tropical areas of Asia, Amazon, east Africa, and the Caribbean and used as a vegetable as well as folk medicine. All parts of the plant, including the fruit, are commonly consumed and cooked with different vegetables, stir-fried, stuffed or used in small quantities in soups or beans to give a slightly bitter flavor and taste. The plant is reported to possess anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, anti-obesity, and immunomodulatory activities. The plant extract inhibits cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, autophagy and inhibiting cancer stem cells. The plant is rich in bioactive chemical constituents like cucurbitane type triterpenoids, triterpene glycosides, phenolic acids, flavonoids, essential oils, saponins, fatty acids, and proteins. Some of the isolated compounds (Kuguacin J, Karaviloside XI, Kuguaglycoside C, Momordicoside Q-U, Charantin,α-eleostearic acid) and proteins (α-Momorcharin, RNase MC2, MAP30) possess potent biological activity. In the present review, we are summarizing the anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activities of Momordica charantia along with a short account of important chemical constituents, providing a basis for establishing detail biological activities of the plant and developing novel drug molecules based on the active chemical constituents.