Benefits and Uses of Karela
What is Karela?
Karela or Bitter Gourd is a type of Indian vegetable, a member of the same family as the squash, pumpkin, and zucchini. Also known as Indian Bitter Melon, it is a vegetable grown in many parts of India and Asia.
In many Asian kitchens, Karela is a standard vegetable. It gets its name from how bitter it tastes. Despite its taste, it helps our body to fight off numerous illnesses, calm the stomach, control bowel movements, heal skin infections, and even prevent cancer in certain ways.
Characteristics of the Karela Plant
Momordica charantia is a vine that grows up to 10 feet in length. It is largely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its fruit. It produces flowers that are green or yellow in colour. The fruit is a large green gourd that is known as Karela.
It is a Cucurbitaceae vine that grows in tropical and subtropical regions. The shape and level of bitterness of the fruit vary significantly between its numerous variants.
A staple food of the Kung hunter-gatherers during the dry season, bitter melon originated in Africa. Southeast Asia is likely where it was fully domesticated. East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian cuisines all frequently employ it.
What are the health benefits of using Karela?
Karela has been used in Ayurveda as well as a culinary dish for centuries. It has gained popularity owing to its health benefits, and is also packed with a lot of nutrients essential for our body.
Karela Benefits for Cancer
Plants are a rich source of potential new cancer treatments. Karela is one such plant which has both edible and medical value and is reported to exhibit anticancer activity.
Through the management of caspases and mitochondria, Karela has cell-based effects on human cancer cells. It demonstrates promising anti-cancer action by inducing apoptosis (a set of biochemical events in a cell that results in its death).
Peptic ulcers have traditionally been treated with it as well. Studies on lymphoid leukaemia, melanoma, breast cancer, skin tumors, prostatic cancer, squamous cell carcinomas of the tongue and throat, and Hodgkin's disease have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating these cancers. 
Benefits of Karela for Diabetes
In both industrialised and emerging nations, diabetes mellitus is one of the most prevalent diseases. Although it is not communicable, its cases are on the rise across the world. Up to one-third of people with diabetes mellitus are thought to use complementary and alternative therapies.
Karela is known for its anti-diabetic qualities. The indigenous people of Asia, South America, India, and East Africa use its fruit to cure diabetes and other related illnesses. Numerous pre-clinical studies have shown that it has anti-diabetic and hypoglycemic benefits. This makes it an excellent supplement for people suffering from Diabetes.
Benefits of Karela in Weight Loss
A number of factors can cause obesity: eating too much, moving too little, environment, genetics, medications, or even stress. While some of them need lifestyle changes, dietary requirements can be fulfilled by Karela easily.
Karela has been shown to improve metabolic syndrome. It can also help weight management as it is known to improve metabolic syndrome in humans.
Karela extracts have been studied for their efficacy in weight management.
Studies have shown that it has considerable anti-obesity effects. It has the ability to modulate lipid profile by suppressing body weight gain.
Traditional Use of Karela in Ayurveda
The bitter melon is revered in Ayurveda for its capacity to support balanced blood sugar levels and a functioning pancreas by encouraging regular glucose metabolism.
Rasa (taste): pungent, bitter
Vipaka (post-digestion taste): Pungent
Virya (action): Hot/Warming
It is considered balancing for all doshas. The bitter flavour that characterises bitter melon aids in the elimination of excess Kapha and the stimulation of the digestive system without provoking pitta or Vata. Additionally, it maintains a healthy heart and stimulates the circulatory system to operate at its best
Modern Scientific Research on Karela
Karela has been studied for its anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and nutrition composition, among other things to verify Ayurvedic claims. These researches and studies carry over the legacy of its Ayurvedic importance into modern times. Some of them are listed below.
- The effects of Momordica charantia on obesity and lipid profiles of mice fed a high-fat diet - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4575961/
- Momordica charantia Extract Induces Apoptosis in Human Cancer Cells through Caspase- and Mitochondria-Dependent Pathways - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3471438/
- Wild bitter gourd improves metabolic syndrome: A preliminary dietary supplementation trial - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311063/
- Antidiabetic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and its medicinal potency - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027280/
- Pharmacological actions and potential uses of Momordica charantia: a review - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15182917/
How to take Karela as a supplement
Karela is a seasonal vegetable which is available from June to August. It can be eaten as a vegetable curry or stir-fried, added to soups, or steamed. The dried seeds can be taken as a supplement throughout the year. But there are various other ways to take its supplement.
Using Karela Powder
Boil a glass of milk in a pan and add 200mg of Hesh’s Karela Powder to it. Stir the pan until the mixture becomes consistent. You can drink this concoction once it is at room temperature. You can also take it directly with a glass of warm water.
Using Karela Tablets
Tablets are a very convenient and effective option to consume any supplement. If you choose to take Karela as a pill, it is recommended that you take one pill with water before meals 2-3 times a day.
Using Karela Capsules
Capsules tend to have a higher concentration of the substance. Therefore, capsules make it easier for the ingredients to be absorbed into your bloodstream. You can take Hesh’s Karela Vegan Capsules twice a day after meals for the best results. Take the capsules with a glass of water or warm milk.
Is it safe to take Karela?
Karela is safe to consume as a food, but it is important to check with a physician before taking it as a supplement. It is especially important to talk with a physician before taking Karela if you have diabetes, take blood pressure medication, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.