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Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00486

Momordica charantia, a nutraceutical approach for inflammatory related diseases

  • 1University of Bologna, Italy

Momordica charantia, commonly called bitter melon, is a plant belonging to Cucurbitaceae family known for centuries for its pharmacological activities and nutritional properties. Due to the presence of many bioactive compounds, some of which possess potent biological actions, this plant is used in folk medicine all over the world for the treatment of different pathologies, mainly diabetes, but also cancer and other inflammation-associated diseases. It is widely demonstrated that Momordica charantia extracts contribute in lowering glycaemia in patients affected by type 2 diabetes. However, the majority of existing studies on Momordica charantia bioactive compounds were performed only on cell lines and in animal models. Therefore, because the real impact of bitter melon on human health has not been thoroughly demonstrated, systematic clinical studies are needed to establish its efficacy and safety in patients. Besides, both in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that bitter melon may also elicit toxic or adverse effects under different conditions. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic properties of bitter melon, discussing its pharmacological activity as well as the potential adverse effects. Even if a lot of literature is available about bitter melon as antidiabetic drug, few papers afford the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties of this plant.

Keywords: Anticancer agents, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, nutraceutical, Natural Products, Bitter gourd (Mamordica charantia L.), Bitter melon, Momordica charantia, Antioxidant - Phytochemical studies

Received: 29 Jan 2019; Accepted: 17 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Ilaria Peluso, Council for Agricultural and Economics Research, Italy

Reviewed by:

Jimmy T. Efird, University of Newcastle, Australia
Mohammed Rahmatullah, University of Development Alternative, Bangladesh
Elena Azzini, Research Centre for Food and Nutrition, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Italy  

Copyright: © 2019 Bortolotti, Mercatelli and Polito. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Letizia Polito, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, letizia.polito@unibo.it