Do You Know the Benefits of Balsam Pears?

Slices of bitter melon, also known as balsam pear or bitter gourd, sitting on a cutting board.

Balsam pears have some medical uses that are really worth knowing. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Did you know that balsam pears can do magic?

Balsam pears are more commonly known as bitter melons or bitter gourds.

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They have some medical uses that are really worth knowing. Recent studies have shown that these pears are extremely beneficial for our health and well-being.

Improving appetite and digestion

Research shows that balsam pears can improve your appetite and digestion, as well as relieve gastric disorders and constipation.

The Guardian writes: “Medicinal Uses Balsam Pear For Gastrointestinal Problems—the water extract made from the fresh plant, the decoction, or the tea can be taken orally as an effective bitter tonic that stimulates the entire digestive system.

“In addition, bitter gourd is an appetite stimulant. It treats abdominal pain, colic, sluggish digestion, flatulence, and gas. It exerts a mild laxative effect on the colon, and helps in most cases of constipation.”

A silver dish containing stuffed karela, also known as bitter melon, bitter gourd, or balsam pear.
Balsam pears can improve your appetite and digestion. (Image: Vashisthapathak2015 via Wikimedia Commons)

Glowing skin

Balsam pears can even help with the healing of wounds and they promote the regeneration of skin, so it’s beneficial for the treatment of acne and scars.

According to Livestrong, herbalists recommend bitter melon to treat acne because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. To use bitter melon for acne, you can follow the recommendations of Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health and eat one small melon daily; the website warns that the fruit has a bitter taste that not everybody can tolerate. You can also drink 2 oz. of the fresh juice daily. Significantly exceeding the recommended dose can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Fights cancer

Balsam pears can be used in cancer treatment. Humans Are Free writes: “Dr. Shallenberger has found bitter melon to be an effective tool in inhibiting cancer cell growth and advises his patients to go for natural substances that inhibit cancer cell growth.

“During his latest research, Dr. Shallenberger found that when bitter melon juice is diluted to 5 percent in water, it proved to be very effective in fighting pancreatic cancer.

“Bitter melon was able to damage cancer cell lines by a rate of 90 percent and 98 percent. The University of Colorado tested bitter melon’s effect further and found a 64 percent reduction in the size of the pancreatic tumors.”

Weight loss

Balsam pears can also aid in weight loss. Livestrong writes: “Bitter melon’s function of assisting with weight loss is through lowering and maintaining proper blood sugar levels in your body. According to Hello Life, bitter melon can help prevent your body from absorbing excess sugar. Furthermore, it may also increase the number of beta cells in your pancreas, which are involved in the secretion of insulin. Improving your insulin levels can help reduce your blood sugar levels, which makes weight loss easier.”

Bitter melon, also known as kerala, bitter gourd, or balsam pear, sitting on a wooden surface.
Balsam pears lower and maintain proper blood sugar levels in the body. (Image: via Wallpaper Flare)

As with all medicines or natural treatments you should always first consult with your health care professional before doing anything new.

WebMD says: “Bitter melon fruit is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in the short-term. The safety of long-term use (beyond 3 months) is not known. There also is not enough information about the safety of consuming other parts of the bitter melon or applying bitter melon to the skin.”

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Bitter melon is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Certain chemicals in bitter melon fruit, juice, and seeds can start menstrual bleeding, and have caused abortion in animals. Not enough is known about the safety of using bitter melon during breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: Bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take medications to lower your blood sugar, adding bitter melon might make your blood sugar drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency: People with G6PD deficiency might develop “favism” after eating bitter melon seeds. Favism is a condition named after the fava bean, which is thought to cause “tired blood” (anemia), headache, fever, stomach pain, and coma in certain people. A chemical found in bitter melon seeds is related to chemicals in fava beans. If you have G6PD deficiency, avoid bitter melon.

Surgery: There is a concern that bitter melon might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using bitter melon at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Translated research by Audrey Wang and Kathy

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