Gurmar, Jamun, Bitter Melon, and Fenugreek

Image Credit: jetalone / Flickr

What about gurmar, jamun, bitter melon, and fenugreek?

What is your take on the following substances? Gurmar…jamun… bitter melon…[and] fenugreek?   Lastly, Dr. Greger what do you think of Citruline and L Argenine in their role as helping out in repairing the endothelium cells ( Citruline ) and the later helping in promoting Nitrous Oxide formation if one used the drug versions instead of Citruline absorbed thru Watermelon rind where a large portion of citulline is usually discarded?

Data / Originally posted in A Harmless Artificial Sweetener


I’ve often wondered about bitter melon myself (Momordica charantia, also known as karela, or bitter gourd). I’ve seen it at the Indian spice stores I frequent (looks kind of like a ridged warty cucumber), but never tried it. I hear it lives up to its name, though. In fact the more ripe it gets, the more inedibly bitter it evidently becomes! But with enough heavy spicing I guess anything can be made palatable (the best way to mask the taste appears to be tomato-based sauces).

study published just a few days ago found that an extract of the fruit appeared to slow the growth of a rare cancer in a petri dish (adrenocortical carcinoma, an aggressive 1-in-a-million cancer of the adrenal gland), something that extracts of blueberries, zucchini, and acorn squash couldn’t do. Similar findings were reported in 2011 with prostate cancer cells and in 2010 with breast cancer cells. Traditionally, bitter melon has been used to lower blood sugars in diabetics, though most of the studies to support this use have been small and methodologically weak. There was a randomized controlled study published in 2007 that found no significant improvement in long-term blood sugar control in diabetics, but there have also been case reports of children having hypoglycemic seizures (and one even sinking into a coma) after drinking bitter melon tea, so presumably there is some blood-sugar-lowering effect there somewhere. If you are going to try it, I would recommend eating the fruit itself, not some extract. For example, there is a published report of a man who started throwing up blood after chugging two cups of bitter melon juice, which apparently ate through the wall of his stomach.

I’ll have to look into gurmar and jamun. As for citrulline and watermelon, I cover that in my video Watermelon as Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction. I’ve also got upcoming videos on fenugreek (from my volume 11 Latest in Nutrition DVD), so I leave you in suspense (*spoiler alert*: fenugreek seeds appear to have both muscle-building and anti-cancer properties, but do have an unusual side effect: they may make your armpits smell like maple syrup!).

Image thanks to jetalone / Flickr


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

10 responses to “What about gurmar, jamun, bitter melon, and fenugreek?

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    1. I agree, and from my vantage am planning to get better at cooking it so that the bitterness is enhanced. It’s a really invigorating bitterness, in a weird way. Like the head-feel that you can get from really spicy food, it is not simply the basic tongue-nose system that seems to ‘taste’ bittermelon.

  1. I love your videos thank you for making science & nutrition so understandable, all your information is right on!! very very informative, educational, and factual, and you make it easy to learn,!! thank you Namaste, Angelina

  2. Jamun seed powder or fenugreek powder is good for diebetic type to. Take twice a tea spoon jamun powder daily or same qty. as of fenugreek powder. (Fenugreek seeds can be soaked in water at night and take next morning, or boil like tea and have dringk). It affects faster than medicine to lower the blood sugar. Fenugreek is very beneficial in other way also, it circulate blood, lower high blood pressure, lower LDL cholestrol, increase libido, that’s sex power. The one who eats fenugreek daily will never miss night with partner.
    But one thing I heard and some one saying that American medical didn’t approve fenugreek for lowering blood sugar, can any body explain is it true ?

  3. Hello,
    You have to be careful when using bitter melon as medicine. its harmful when you consume more than a teaspoon. Wash them thoroughly, peel them lightly, grind a small piece in blender and take 1/4-1/2 tsp directly. you know, you can directly put it in your throat instead of on your tongue to avoid bitterness.
    Slice, rub the slices with lots of salt and keep aside for 30 minutes before cooking. The salt draws out the bitter juices from the slices.Squeeze out the juices, wash under running water and squeeze again. Don’t discard the squeezed out juice – use it in any juices. you can fry the pieces add salt, turmeric and little chilli powder. it tastes good. Thanks.

  4. The following is from the entry for fenugreek at the website of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) – see

    “Fenugreek acts as an estrogen receptor modulator and was shown to stimulate breast cancer cells in vitro (26). Patients with hormonal-sensitive cancers should avoid this product.”

    (26) – Sreeja S, Anju VS, Sreeja S. In vitro estrogenic activities of fenugreek Trigonella foenum graecum seeds. Indian J Med Res. 2010 Jun;131:814-9.

    The entry also remarks “[f]enugreek has anticancer properties but human studies are needed.”

    I’m curious how this should affect our regard for fenugreek.

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