Momordica charantia L.

DeFilipps, Robert A. & Krupnick, Gary A., 2018, The medicinal plants of Myanmar, PhytoKeys 102, pp. 1-341: 60

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Momordica charantia L.


Momordica charantia L. 


Myanmar: kyet-hinga, kyet-hin-kha, gaiyin (Kachin), sot-cawee-katun (Mon). English: balsam-apple, balsam-pear, bitter cucumber, bitter gourd, bitter melon, wild balsam apple.


Tropical Asia. Cultivated throughout Myanmar; a small variety grows naturally.


Bitter, rather hot and sharp, with cooling properties, and easily digested, this plant is considered good for bowel movements. It is used to defeat germs, control bile and phlegm, and stimulate hunger, as well as to alleviate anemia and eye, venereal, and urine-related diseases. Whole plant: Both the fruit and the whole plant are used in the treatment of diabetes. In folk medicines, the root, seeds, and fruits are used as a cathartic, abortive, aphrodesiac, analgesic, antipyretic, antirheumatic, emetic, digestant, anti-ulcerogenic, and anti-malarial. Leaf: Has the property of controlling fevers. Juice from crushed leaves is ingested as a remedy for stomach germs. A mixture of the juice and ground hpan-kar ( Terminalia chebula  ) fruit is taken for jaundice and hepatitis. The juice is used as an emetic and purgative, given for bile problems, and also used as a cure for dengue hemorrhagic fever. Additionally, it is ingested as an antidote to rabid dog bites, and is also applied as a poultice on the bite and as a rinse for the area around the bite. A mixture of the leaves with salt and jaggery, boiled in water to one-third the starting volume, is taken for ague, chills, and fever. Crushed leaves are inhaled to cure giddiness. Also used as a laxative and an anthelmintic; to induce abortion (the fruits can cause severe vomiting and may be lethal) . Leaf and Fruit: Used in deworming preparations, as well as in medicines for piles, leprosy, and jaundice. Fruit: Used as a laxative, anthelmintic, and for diabetes. Dried and stone-ground to make a paste applied to the throat to treat goiter. A mixture of the juice and oil is taken for cholera, whereas a mixture of the juice with honey is used to alleviate edema. The juice from young fruits is warmed and applied to the joints to soothe inflammation. Root: Used as an astringent and also in preparations for hemorrhoids.


Medicinal uses of this species in India are discussed in Jain and DeFilipps (1991). Indigenous medicinal uses of this species in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) are described by Dagar and Singh (1999). Medicinal uses of this species in China are discussed by Duke and Ayensu (1985).

The medicinal uses of this plant in the Caribbean region, as well as its chemistry, biological activity, toxicity and dosages, are discussed by Germosén-Robineau (1997). The chemistry, pharmacology, history and medicinal uses of this species in Latin America are discussed in detail by Gupta (1995).

The chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, and traditional medicinal uses of this plant on a worldwide basis are discussed in detail by Ross (1999). The chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and use of this species as a hunting poison and medicinal plant in Africa are discussed by Neuwinger (1994). The toxic properties, symptoms, treatment and beneficial uses of this plant, parts of which are poisonous, are discussed by Nellis (1997). Worldwide medicinal usage, chemical composition and toxicity of this species are discussed by Duke (1986).

This plant is a well known traditional anti-diabetic remedy, its hypoglycemic properties based on peptides and terpenoids in the fruit juice ( Marles and Farnsworth 1995). A polypeptide of molecular weight 11,000 is the basis of the blood sugar lowering properties of the fruit ( Mors et al. 2000). Toxicity of this species is discussed by Bruneton (1999).


Nordal (1963), Mya Bwin and Sein Gwan (1967), Agricultural Corporation (1980).