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Bitter Melon is also known as Bitter gourd or Karela, is a herbaceous tendril, bearing which grows upto a length of 3 to 5 m. It has been used in various Asian traditional medicine systems for a long time. It bears simple and alternate leaves.The leaves spread 4–12 cm across, with 3–7 cm separated lobes.The fruit has a distinct warty looking exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, and has a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounded by a central seed cavity which is filled with large flat seeds and pith.Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. Seeds and pith are white in colour in unripe fruitsand turns red when the fruit ripens; they are not intensely bitter. The skin is tender and edible. The fully ripe fruit turns orange and is too bitter to eat on ripening it splits into segments which curl back to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp. Bitter melon comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. The typical Chinese phenotype is 20–30 cm long. Some bear fruit of only 6–10 cm in length, which may be consumed as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruits are popular in Southeast Asia as well as India. These species are a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Africa, China, and the Caribbean.
Botanical Name: Momordica charantia.
Family Name: Cucurbitaceae.
Common Name: Karela/Karella, ampalaya, cerasee, bitter melon, bitter gourd.
Part Used: its fruit is edible, Seeds.
Habitat: Indian subcontinent, Caribbean, Africa, China, and in some parts of Southeast Asia.
Properties of Bitter melon
· Antibacterial, Anti-rheumatic.
· Depurative, stimulant, tonic.
· Antitumorous, Antiviral.
Uses of Bitter melon
The most common uses of Bitter melon are:
· Bitter melon is used to prepare various dishes.
· Bitter melon transformed into capsule form and sold as a food supplement.
· Laboratory tests suggest that compounds in bitter melon might be effective for treating HIV infection.
· The leaves of the plant are brewed in hot water to create a tea to treat diabetes.
· Like most bitter-tasting foods, bitter melon stimulates digestion.
· Bitter melon contains a lectin that has insulin-like activity.
· Useful for preventing and treating malaria.
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