Friday, April 11, 2008

Bitter to Swallow--Sweet to Savor

Researchers have found that an extract from Bitter Melon is good at combating diabetes and insulin resistance.

In the current study, Tan and colleagues isolated and described several compounds from bitter melon known as cucurbitane triterpenoids, and tested their effects on glucose (sugar) and fat metabolism in cells and in mice.

When tested in muscle and fat cells, the researchers found, the compounds stimulated the glucose receptor GLUT4 to move from the cell interior to the cell surface, thus promoting more effective glucose metabolism. Several of the tested compounds had effects comparable to those of insulin.

Don't get too excited...they still have some work to do:
The researchers note that there may be as many as 70 active compounds in bitter melon. "The present study provides an important basis for further analysis of structure-activity relationship to develop optimized leads from (bitter melon) for the treatment of insulin resistance and obesity," they conclude.
All in all, a small step to find a new viable treatment. I am glad it's good for something, though, because it is one scary-looking plant.