Scientists have now identified three groups of constituents that are thought to be responsible for its 'blood sugar lowering' action.One of these, a compound called charantin, which is composed of mixed steroids, was found to be more effective than the oral hypoglycaemic drug, tolbutamide, in reducing blood sugar.
Another, an insulin-like polypeptide, called polypeptide P, appears to lower blood sugar in type I (insulin dependent) diabetics, while alkaloids present in the fruit have also been noted to have a blood sugar lowering effect. As yet, researchers are unclear as to which of these compounds is most effective or if it is the synergistic effect of all three. Further research is required to understand how these compounds actually work. Compounds known as oleanolic acid glycosides have been found to improve glucose tolerance in Type II (maturity onset) diabetics by preventing the absorption of sugar from the intestines. Bitter melon has also been reported to increase the number of beta cells (cells that secrete insulin) in the pancreas, thereby improving your body's capability to produce insulin (insulin promotes the uptake of sugar from your blood by cells and tissues).
p-Insulin was tested in a controlled clinical trial. In juvenile diabetics, the peak hypoglycemic effect was observed after 1-8 hrs; in patients with maturity onset diabetes, maximum fall in blood sugar level was noted after 12 hrs. Karela or Bitter Melon has also been reported to show hypocholesteroemic activity.
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