Antiviral Effects of Bitter Melon

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America. It has biologically active substances which have been shown to exhibit antiviral effect.

Bitter Melon and Herpes Cure

Herpes is an infection that is caused by a herpes simplex virus. This virus usually causes infections of the skin and mucous membranes. Sometimes it can cause more important infections in other parts of the body. HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus 1) is the main cause of herpes infections that occur on the mouth and lips. HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus 2) is the main cause of genital herpes. Bitter melon extract has been shown to possess strong antiviral activities stimulate the immune system and activate the body’s natural killer cells to help fight off viruses such as herpes simplex virus 1. In a 1982 study of the effects of bitter melon on the herpes simplex virus-1, MAP30 inhibited the reproduction of the virus,
as well as reducing its capability to form plaques.  According to certified nutritional consultant Phyllis Balch, Momordica charantia extracts are more effective than the drug acyclovir at killing strains of herpes virus that are not resistant to acyclovir.

Bitter Melon and HIV Treatment

Since the early 1980’s, bitter melon fruits and seeds have been investigated in vitro and in vivo as an efficacious treatment for HIV. Scientists have found that Momordica charantia contains some proteins that can inhibit HIV in the test-tube. These proteins, known collectively as ribosome-inactivating proteins are alpha-momorcharin, beta-momorcharin and MAP-30. MAP30 is an anti-HIV plant protein. It is capable of acting against different stages of the viral life cycle, on acute infection as well as replication in chronically infected cells. In addition to antiviral action, MAP30 furthermore possesses topological inactivation of viral DNA, inhibition of viral integrase and cell-free ribosome-inactivation effects.

In lab experiments, bitter melon extracts inhibit the ability of  HIV to insert its DNA into the chromosomes of human cells. In vitro antiviral effect has been showed with bitter melon and its inhibitory effects on HIV integrating into host cells. In vitro research has demonstrated decreased, rates of T lymphocyte infections with HIV-1 and decreased viral replication in infected cells. Scientists at the “New York University School of Medicine” explained that MAP 30 protein is able to slow down HIV-1 infection in T-lymphocytes and monocytes as well as replication of  HIV-1 in infected cells. In one experiment, HIV-infected cells treated with alpha- and beta-momorcharin demonstrated a almost complete loss of viral antigen while normal cells were unaffected. According to study published in June 2001 edition in the Planta Medica; protein extracted from the ripe seed and fruit  decreased viral protein in HIV-infected cells by 82% and inhibited one process involved in viral replication by 50%.

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