Can Bitter Melon Really Help Type 2 Diabetes?

A study that appeared in this month's online issue of Chemistry and Biology, has isolated four compounds in bitter melon that activate an enzyme that is responsible for regulating metabolism and transporting glucose from the blood into the cells.

Isolating these compounds could lead to medications that someday could control obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Does this mean that all those claims that tout bitter melon as a cure for diabetes are for real?

That may be an exaggeration, but this study does prove that at least there are legitimate compounds in bitter melon that do help move glucose into cells.

Many medications that are used today came from natural substances. Byetta was created after studies of gila monster saliva showed a compound that slowed gastric emptying, and helped regulate glucose levels. That doesn't mean that stalking a gila monster and swiping it's saliva will do the same thing as Byetta.

As far as self-dosing with bitter melon, who can say what a safe amount is? And since supplements are not regulated, how can you be sure that the quality of what you're taking is the best or even that there is any bitter melon in the supplement at all?

Check with your doctor before trying supplements or unproven compounds, even ones that have been on the market for long time, such as bitter melon. And never stop taking prescribed medications without first consulting with your doctor.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Hoshikawa/A.collection/Getty Images

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