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Bitter melon powder cures metabolic syndrome - trial

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Dec 29, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking bitter melon powder supplements helps cure metabolic syndrome, according to a new study in Nutrition Journal.

The study led by C. H. Tsai from Department of Family Medicine, Cheng Ching Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan conducted the small trial and found a three-month supplementation with 4.8 grams of wild bitter gourd powder cured up to 19% of patients with metabolic syndrome.

Bitter melon or bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) is a tropical vegetable that is commonly used in traditional or folk medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. 

Early studies, according to the authors, wild bitter gourd ameliorated metabolic syndrome in animals.  The current study was intended to examine the effect of wild bitter melon powder on metabolic syndrome in Taiwanese adults.
Enrolled in the study were 42 eligible individuals with 21 men and 21 women at the mean age of 45.7 years ranging from 23 to 63 years who were supplemented with 4.8 grams of lyophilized wild bitter melon powder in capsules daily for three months.  Participants were examined monthly for metabolic syndrome.
Bittermelonfruit_wiki_684866679.jpgAfter adjustment for sex and age, the metabolic syndrome rate decreased by 7.1%, 9.5%, 19.0%, 16.7%, 11.9% and 11.9% at the end of the first, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th month, compared to that at baseline, respectively.  The results indicated up to 19% patients were cured after taking bitter gourd powder for three months.

The efficacy was highest at the end of three-month supplementation with bitter melon powder and the effect was on the decline, but still significant two months after the supplementation.

In addition, the waist circumference also significantly decreased after the supplementation. 

The dietary supplement was generally well tolerated and no side effects were observed.

The researchers concluded "This is the first report to show that WBG (wild bitter guard) improved MetS (metabolic syndrome) in human which provides a firm base for further randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of WBG supplementation."

Metabolic syndrome is defined as a condition in which a person has three of the five conditions including a large waistline (obesity),  high triglycerides, low high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol),  high fasting blood sugar (diabetes or prediabetes), and high blood pressure.

A person with metabolic syndrome is at high risk for heart disease and stroke.

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