Origin: Bitter gourd is believed to have originated in the Old World, and was first domesticated in eastern India and southern China. History says that the slave trade brought bitter gourd from Africa to Brazil, and that seed dispersal by birds and insects are responsible for its spread throughout the world.
Scientifically: Bitter gourd is scientifically called Momordica charantia. Its name is derived from the Latin word “Momordica”, which means “to bite”, referring to the edges of its seed which seem to have been chewed. It is a member of the gourd family like cucumbers, bottle gourd, etc. Bitter gourd resembles cucumber in the size and color, however, bitter gourd has warts. Though bitter gourd doesn’t have an appealing outer and has a bitter flavor, still it is considered one of the most nutritious gourds. It is one of the most important vegetables and is known for its multiple uses. In Southeast Asia, bitter gourd is mostly grown for the local market. The size of the bitter gourd varies from 3-11 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. It usually has warts and is rarely smooth with pale yellow-green to very dark green color. The bitterness is due to nontoxic alkaloid present in the bitter gourd called momordicine. Bitter gourd is a climbing perennial plant with ridged stems that can reach up to 5 m long. The leaves are lobed and have small, yellow flowers, about 3 cm in diameter.
Usage: Bitter gourd leaves are a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B. Fruits is rich in polypeptide-P, vegetable insulin or charantin, which helps in lowering blood sugar levels. It contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana. It boosts weight loss and controls diabetes. The consumption of bitter gourd in moderate quantity has proven to have amazing results on skin and hair. Consuming bitter gourd juice first thing in the morning helps in boosts immunity and controls blood sugar levels. It is anti-inflammatory and lowers bad cholesterol. Bitter gourd also fights acne, aids in treating eczema and psoriasis, as well as protects the skin from the harmful UV rays.
Below are some skin remedies with Bitter gourd:
- Take a few pieces of bitter gourd, and blend it with fresh aloe vera gel. Add 2 teaspoons of honey to it. Mix and apply this pack on the face for 15 minutes. Wash it off later. This pack helps in treating any inflammation on the skin and makes the skin soft and supple.
- Blend half a bitter gourd with half a cucumber. Apply this paste on the face and neck for 10 minutes. Rinse later. This helps in cleansing and soothing of the skin.
- Take one tablespoon of bitter gourd juice, one tablespoon of yogurt and one egg yolk. Mix everything together and apply on the face for 15 minutes. Wash it off later. This pack helps in reducing the signs of aging.
- Blend a bitter gourd with a handful of neem leaves. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Combine all the ingredients together and apply on the face and body. Rinse after 15 minutes. This helps in calming down any acne or inflammations.
- Take a tablespoon of bitter gourd paste and add dried orange peel to it. Apply this mixture on the face and let it dry for 15 minutes. Wash off this pack in a scrubbing motion. This helps in exfoliating the skin.
- Add the bitter gourd along with basil and neem leaves in a blender and blend everything together to make a paste. Apply this paste for 10-15 minutes and then rinse later. This helps in unclogging of the pores and removes toxins from the skin
- Cut a bitter gourd into pieces and massage it on your scalp in the circular motion. Rinse off with normal water. This helps in treating the dry and flaky scalp.
- Try applying bitter gourd juice to the scalp along with the addition of a small amount of sugar. This paste has to be applied on the scalp evenly, leave it for some time until it turns dry and then rinse off to cure the hair fall problem naturally.