Momordica charantia L.

Nota de alcance (en)

Ethnobotanical and general use

Nutritional use
Young leaves and fresh shoots as well as fruits are consumed as vegetables. Green fruits and tender shoots contain bitter substances, a taste which is much appreciated by certain natives. The seeds are removed from the fruit before boiling them in hot water; they are also fried, while the leaves are par-boiled or used for salad. The sarcotesta of the seed has a sweet taste.

Economical utilization
In certain tropical countries, the plant is used as an insecticide. In Haiti the plant is of great importance as an insecticide; it could be industrially used in the whole world. Processed fruits are applied as a substitute for soap. In the Philippines, the plant is used to prepare a poison for arrows. The plant is cultivated, mainly for its medicinal properties.

Medical use
Leaves, stalks and shoots, roots, fruits and seeds, as well as the entire plants are used medically. Name of the drug: Momordica charantia L. plantae.

Leaf The leaves are pungently aromatic due to the presence of glands. The sap is used against fever, colics and as a vermifuge. The leaves are emetic, purgative, and heal diseases of the gall bladder and burns on the sole of the foot. In decoction with lemon juice they are used as a purgative. As a decoction they are also applied against infections of the skin, psoriasis, dark spots on the face, as an emollient and astringent of the cutis. An infusion is used as a hypoglycaemic. A decoction is antipyretic and used against malaria and as a bath for haemorrhoids. Pulverized leaves are applied for cicatrization. To cure diabetes, 3-5 g/liter water are taken. The leaves are furthermore appetite stimulant, stomachic, have vermifuge effects and serve as an em-menagogue. An infusion is antipyretic, choleretic, antihypertensive, and helps to purify blood, against malaria, and exanthem. The juice is emetic and purgative. To soothe pain during menstruation, leaves are boiled for 2 minutes, a piece of Euphorbia hirta and a pinch of salt and a strip of orange peel are added; half a cup of this mixture is taken. Leaf tea is also applied against high blood pressure. A leaf decoction is against diabetes, hypertension, dysentery, malaria and as a vermifuge. Bath and poultice are used for rheumatism and haemorrhoids.

Branches. In decoction they expel stones from the kidney and reduce high blood pressure.

Root. The root is astringent; it is used against haemorrhoids. An infusion of crushed roots helps against malaria. The root in decoction is abortive. It also expels stones of the bladder. The root develops certain antibiotic activities.

Fruit. The juice of the fruit is employed against fever, colics, as a vermifuge and as a stomachic. It is locally applied against snake bites. It is furthermore used against tumours and malignant ulcers. In the form of jelly or syrup, it is given in cases of fever and malaria. In decoction it is utilized as an emetic and is an antivenereal. An infusion is laxative and anthelmintic. It helps against leucorrhoea. A cataplasm of the ripe fruit acts haemostatically. The ripe fruit mixed with oil is used to clean wounds and to heal bruises. The fruit juice is also used against diabetes through its hypoglycaemic effects.

Seeds. The seeds are slightly poisonous. They are emetic, purgative, vermifuge, have aphrodisiac effects and help against jaundice and excess of the bile production.

Entire plant. A decoction of the entire plant is used as a bath to cure haemorrhoids. The powdered plant helps against leprosy and malignant ulcers. The plant in infusion is taken as an contraceptive. The aerial parts of the plant in decoction taken with lemon juice are purgative. A decoction of the plant is also used as an antidiabetic: During the first days 3 cups a day are taken, then one cup a day only; urine should be controlled at the same time.

Method of use
As already indicated above, the plant parts and the entire plant are used in decoction, in infusion, as a cataplasm or a bath. The pure sap or juice is also applied directly. The decoctions and infusions have external as well as internal applications (see the respective organs).

Healing properties
A large number of effects is ascribed to the plant which is pantropical, being cultivated in several countries. It has therefore been studied scientifically. The most important medical property of the plant is probably its hypoglycaemic action. It has an antifertility effect which could be interesting for the future. The antileukaemic effect also seems to be of much importance. It is anthelmintic, antimitotic, antirheumatic, antihypertensive, coleretic, antipyretic; it acts as an emmenagogum, an abortive, an aphrodisiac, is used against flatulence, ulcers, malignant tumours, fever, malaria, flu and many other diseases. The plant has antimitotic effects and this may explain its antitumoural and antispermatogenic action; furthermore, inhibition of protein synthesis observed in Momordica charantia m ay have the same effects. An antiviral action against vesicular stomatitis virus was observed besides an antimutagenic activity and androgenic effects. Besides an antihyperglycaemic action, the plant is also efficient as an antihypercholesterolic. A gradual decrease of the sugar level in the blood of 42 o/o of patients was noted four hours after administration. The anthelmintic activity (against ascaris) could also be shown. The cytostatic activity of the plant could likewise be used medically in the struggle against cancer. A marked diminution of sperm formation was observed in dogs when the plant was taken for 20 days. The fruit extra ct has an apparent effect on the leucaemic lymphocytes of huma ns.

Chemical contents
An insulin-like compound was obtained by BALDWA & COL. 1977. WELIHINDA & COL. observed extrapancreatic effects of Momordica charantia (1986). Antimutagens (GUEVARA & coL. 1990}, antitumour activities (MoTo 1983} , antifertility activities (sAKSENA 1971 antilipolytic activities (woNG et al. 1985}, have been proved and an inhibitor of HIV-I infection and replication as well (LEE-HUANG et al. 1990). The hypoglycaemic principle is called charantin. Among others the following substances have been found: Momordi ca charantia lectin, Momordi ca agglutinin, cystostatic factor of Momordica, inhibitor of Momordica elastase, inhibitor of Momordica trypsin, neroldiol, V-insulin, P-insulin, ~-sitosterol, derivatives of stigmasterol, 5-hydroxytriptamine, verbascoside, vicin, and an zeatin alkaloid. The presence of saponins is responsible for the utilization of the plant as a soap substitute. The plant contains furthermore slime and volatile oil. The bitter substance is removed, when the leaves are shortly boiled and washed, but most of the ascorbic acid is lost during this process. The fruits are rich in ascorbic acid reaching a level of 188 mg/ 100 g fruit. The bitter alkaloid is momordicine; there are also bitter saponins in the plant. The seeds contain 2 alkaloids, one of which is momordicine, as well as a resin and a saponin, besides other compounds. The reddish-brown oil is the purgative factor; up to 32 o/o oily substances were found in the seeds. The unripe fruit is particularly rich in ascorbic acid and may be maintained in the refrigerator for 4 weeks at a temperature of 32-35 op and a relative humidity of 85-90 o/o.

Toxicity
The fruit is toxic, has a drastic purgative effect which also causes vomiting, and its consumption has to be handled with care. It also induces abortion. The juice in India given to children causes vomiting, diarrhoea and death (PERKINS & PAYNE 1978} . This remark of the cited authors throws an interesting light on the Indian mentality concerning women and children and the consequences of overpopulation!

Vine, pathside in San Andrés.

Uses: boil leaves in water, drink for diabetes or kidney pains; boil whole plant in water, drink for stomachaches, hepatitis, malaria, and diabetes; boil whole plant in water with leaves of other species, drink for urinary problems. Comerford 38, 7 Jul 1994.

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Uses: diabetic, dengue, local pain, fever, malaria, viral, liver, hepatitis.                                                 

Origin: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Caribbean, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French, Guiana, Gabon, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Italia, Madagascar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Reunion, Rodrigues, South Africa, Suriname, USA, Venezuela.      

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Whole plant: Plant is boiled, and the water used as a tonic and anti-diarrheal, by the Guyana Patamona. Plant is boiled and a pinch of table salt is added to the water, which is drunk to treat biliousness, by the Guyana Patamona.

Stem, Leaf and Fruit: Decoction for diabetes, cancer, external ulcers and sores, bitter tonic.

Stem and Leaf: Dried leaves and stems are boiled and the water drunk as an antidiabetic, as an anti-hypertensive or as a treatment for biliousness, by the Guyana Patamona.

Leaf: In an antiseptic bath for children; infusion is febrifuge; juice in a vermifuge infusion, also drunk for malaria, other fevers and biliousness. Cooked as a children's anthelmintic, and for scabies or itch. Infusion for stomach cramps. In Guyana, leaves used in a tea for cleansing the blood. Leaves are boiled, and the water drunk as an anti-hypertensive, as an antidiabetic or to purify the blood, by the Guyana Patamona. Leaves are boiled and the water used as an antidiuretic, by the Guyana Patamona. Used to treat malaria in NY Guyana.

Leaf and Flower: Flowers and young leaves are boiled, and the water drunk as a medication for hepatitis, by the Guyana Patamona.

Fruit: Antidiabetic. Mixed with almond oil for a vulnerary. Fruit is eaten by Chinese and East Indians in French Guiana.

Nota de alcance

PARTE UTILIZADA= Used part: Toda la planta.

ACCIÓN FARMACOLÓGICA= Pharmacological action:
Enfermedades del hígado. Colitis. Sarna. Cicatrizante. Laxante. Hipoglicémico. Antihelmíntico. Tratamientode diabetes. Antipirético. Antihipertensivo. Purificador de la sangre. Tratamiento de malaria. Antivenéreo. Tratamiento de hemorroides. Antirreumática. Afrodisíaca. Antimicótica. Antiflatulenta. Tratamiento de úlceras malignas. Tratamiento del resfrío. Abortivo. Tratamiento del cólera y fiebre prolongada. Astringente.

COMPOSICIÓN QUÍMICA= Chemical composition:
Se ha registrado la presencia de los siguientes compuestos en diferentes partes de la planta: beta- alanin, fenilalanina, beta-amirina, arginina, lignano-calceolariósidos, alfa-caroteno epóxido, beta-caroteno, esteroide-charantina, criptoxantina, triterpenos-momordicina, taraxerol, momorcharísidos A y B, momordicósidos A-K; diosgenina, p-cimeno, ácido gentísico, Momordica charantia lectina, momodica aglutinina, factor citistático de momordica, inhibidor de elastasa momordica, inhibidor de triosina momordica, neroldiol, V-insulina, P-insulina, beta-sitosterol, derivadose stigmasterol, 5-hidroxitriptamina, verbascósido, vicina, y un alcaloide zeatina.

ZONA GEOGRÁFICA= Geografical zone:
Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panamá, Perú, Venezuela.

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Origen: planta nativa de América Tropical y de las Antillas.

Usos:
Antibióico contra las infecciones de la piel, y contra forúnculos; emoliente; elimina las lombrices intestinales; alivia los síntomas de la gripe y el resfriado y baja la fiebre; provoca el vómito; remedio para enfermedades vénereas.
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Distribución
Cultivada. Crece espontáneamente en Cuzco, Junín, La Libertad, Loreto, San Martín.

Usos
Hojas
Diabetes: el cocimiento de las hojas se toma como agua de tiempo durante 60 días.

Fruto
Antidiarreico: tomar por las mañanas el jugo que se extrae del fruto triturado; tres cucharadas los adultos y una cucharada los niños.
Cólicos: se toma una taza del cocimiento de los frutos.
Heridas supurativas: las semillas trituradas, mezcladas con manteca de cerdo, se aplican en la zona afectada.

Nota bibliográfica

1) 270 (doscientos setenta) plantas medicinales iberoamericanas. Bogotá : CYTED-SECAB, 1995, p. 251.

2) South American medicinal plants : botany, remedial properties, and general use / I. Roth, H. Lindorf. Berlin ; New York : Springer, c2002. -- p. 492.

3) COMERFORD, Simon C. Economic Botany. vol. 50 . -- p. 327 - 336 1996

4) Geraldini , Isanete, Journal of Ethnopharmacology v. 173, 2015 . -- p. 383-423

5) Robertt, A., et al.. Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana)/Smithsonian NMNH. cited online: 17-08-2017.

6) Quesada Hernández, Alonso/ Herbario nacional de Costa Rica. Costa Rica: Arena Trans Amèrica, 2008. - p. 61

7) Mejía, Kember; Rengifo, Eisa /Plantas medicinales de uso popular en la Amazonía Peruana.-- Lima : Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 2000. -- p. 286

Momordica charantia L.
Término aceptado: 09-Ago-2010