Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Momordica charantia L.

English Name : Balsam-Pear, Bitter Gourd, Bitter cucumber, Karela, Leprosy gourd, Bitter cucumber.

Family : Cucurbitaceae

Origin : Old world tropics

Monoecious and annual vine which reach 5 meters long. The stem is 5-ridged and climbs to the trellises and other structures. The leaves are palmately and deeply 5-to-6 -lobed, the base deeply cordate, margin tooth, blade smooth or with fine hairs. The flowers are solitary; the male and female flowers are found in the same plant with a corolla about 2 to 3.5 cm in diameter across, both having apical bracts which are longer in mallet than in female ones, but the flower stalks are longer in females than in male ones, The fruits are variable in length depending on the cultivar but all are narrower towards the stalk, outside is warty, without hairs, green, when ripe orange yellow, the pulp inside orange when ripe, with bright red seed covering enclosing the seed. Seeds are numerous, flattish, brown, the seed coat ornamented. Propagated by seed and underground stems.

Parts Used : Seed, fruit, leaf and aerial part

Herb Effects
Abortifacient, anthelmintic, contraceptive, emmenagogue, galactagogue, laxative, purgative, tonic, laxative and emetic (leaf), cytotoxic and lowers blood sugar (fruit and seed), lipogenic and antilipolytic (fruit), kills insects (seed oil).

Active Ingredients
Cucurbitacin glycosides and lectins (immature fruit), tetracyclic triterpenes (aerial part and leaf), triterpene glycosides (seed), momordicine and charantin, 5-hydroxytryptamine, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, beta sitosterol, beta sitosterol-D-glucoside, Citrulline, gaba, zeaxanthin (fruit), Linolenic acid, lutein, lycopene.

Medicinal Use
In jaundice and as a laxative (leaf); diabetes. rheumatism and snakebite (fruit), diabetes mellitus, eczema, fat loss, fever (malarial), gout, hydrophobia, hyperglycemia, kidney (stone), leprosy, leucorrhea, liver, piles, pneumonia, psoriasis, rheumatism, scabies and skin diseases. Hot water extract of dried root is taken orally to induce abortion.

Decoction: 1 cup of a standard leaf or whole herb, one or two times daily.
Tincture (4:1): 1-3 ml twice daily.

It lowers blood sugar levels and has abortive and contraceptive effects.


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