The despised karela

WEB DESK: Every cloud has a silver lining, so no wonder, if our despised karela has any silver lining. karela dose. Its curative properties are its silver linings.

In his quest to remain healthy, Man has not only used fruits, flowers, leaves and the roots of the plants, even some of the animal parts, have also not been spared by him for his health benefits.

Today millions of people in the world consume karela daily as a vegetable or karela powder and juice are used for the various medical benefits from the remote past. Karela is a small fruit of the vine (Momomordicacharantia, Linn). It is a plant of tropical and semi-tropical countries including Nepal, South East Asia, China, Africa, South America and the Caribbean’s. It is rough, ridged on outside and pointed at one end. In popular English, karela is called “bitter gourd” and also “bitter melon”, because of its proverbial bitterness.

On ripening, the green fruit and its seeds turn red. Karela fruit, flowers, leaves and the roots have hordes of medicinal benefits in the old Ayurvedic andTibb-e-Unani systems of medicine. In recent years, the interest of the herbalists is once again surfacing in karela. Hopes are being fixed with great expectations that karela may come to the rescue of the human-kind suffering from fatal diseases like cancers and diabetes that are defying all solutions of cure. Karela before cooking is subjected to one or two indigenous ways to minimize its extreme bitterness, due to which a good many of the food-lovers are reluctant to eat it. Boiling 1 KG of peeled karela with 125 grames of “imli” fruit of “TamarindusIndica, Linn.”

Tree for 2-3 hours appreciably reduces bitterness. The other method to remove the bitterness is “salt application @ 10-15% for 2-3 hours then subsequently blanching it at 100o C for 6-7 minutes”, also reduces bitterness of karela. But this method is cumbersome for our housewife’s karela is cooked in more than one way. Some housewives fry in oil the grated karela till it is crispy, after which it is eaten with great gusto. Even the most fastidious and snobbish food-lovers ask for more karela servings to them at their dining table. The other popular way is to cook karela, with gram pulse and minced meat (Keema).

The third way of cooking karela is to stuff the peeled and eviscerated karela with the traditional condiments, spices and onions, after tying it with a thread, not to let the spicy contents come out, it is fried in an edible oil and is ready for eating. Cooking karela in this way makes it more tastier than other ways, and also improves the keeping quality of karela, which can be kept in refrigerated condition for more than week without a change coming in its taste. Karela despite its offensive bitterness is unavoidable for our health.

It provides many nutrients and vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, B-1, B-2 and B-3 required for the maintenance of our health. Its bitterness is due to some alkaloids that are present in it. It is free from cholesterol and sugar. It is a rich source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Herbalists are of the view that in the following health conditions, karela is found most useful, “the leaf juice is anthelmintic, emetic and purgative; it is given in doses of four ounces; a decoction of the leaves is used as stomachic.

The leaves are locally applied as a glactagogue; the juice is a liniment for relief of burning of soles of the feet; it is applied round the eyes for the cure of night blindness. The fruit is antidotal, antipyretic, tonic, appetizing, antibillious and laxative; it is used in leprosy, piles, jaundice, rheumatism, gout, blood diseases, anaemia, urinary discharges, asthama, ulcers, bronchitis and diseases of the liver and spleen; its juice mixed with sugar is given in aphthae, and dismenorrhoea; locally it is applied to burns, boils, eruptions etc the seed is given in doses of two to three seeds for expelling roundworms.

A paste of roots is applied over piles.” Recent investigations indicate that karela can kill the cancerous cells, is antialcholism, relieves in constipation and is also anti-diabetic. Not only in Pakistan, but even in the highly developed countries like the USA and Canada karela powder in capsules and tins are readily available to sugar patient to keep their blood-sugar at the normal level.

This highly speaks of karela and its therapy in the west. Frantic efforts, however, are under-way in the developed countries to discover a new cure for sugar and cancer patients, that is effective and affordable to the poor patients, who cannot afford the costly “insulin therapy” for their problem. Karela is emerging as a new hope for the desperate patients of cancer and diabetes. The excessive use of karela or its juice by a sugar patient on his own is not advisable.

It can harm the patients of impaired liver. Besides it can also give some stomach problems. So doctor’s advice is essential if you are using karela therapy for your specific problem of sugar. Let us keep karela in our lunch and dinner-parties once or twice a fortnight. Karela undoubtedly is bitter gulp it without making a grimace on your face for its health benefits. – Business Recorder