Not a bitter pill

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Bitter melon stuffed with ground pork is a popular summer soup in Vietnam. Called m ưá»› p Ä‘ ng in the northern and central regions or kh ổ qua in the south, the fruit has a distinct warty looking exterior and an oblong shape.

It has been used in traditional medicine for a long time, according to herbalist Hoang Anh Tuan. Bitter melon helps people with constipation, indigestion, and malaria. It is also a demulcent and can abate inflammation, the herbalist says.

Its leaves steeped in hot water can create a tea to treat malaria and diabetes. Some recent scientific studies have proven that bitter melon helps prevent or counteract type-II diabetes. The plant can also lower high blood sugar levels. It contains glucozid momordicin, which can help fight viruses.

Bitter melon's root, fiber, leaves, flower and fruit are all used as herbal medicines. Its root and fiber help people cool and detoxicate, treat dysentery, boils and toothaches. Its leaves cure stomachache, dysentery and ulcerated boil. Its flower is helpful against dysentery. It brings good eyesight, detoxicates, treats sunstroke, fever, toothache, enteritis and dysentery. Its seeds are used as a fighter to some cancer cells, HIV and herpes. However, the seeds contain vicine and therefore can trigger symptoms of favism in some individuals. In addition, the red arils of the seeds are reported to be toxic to children, and the fruit is contraindicated during pregnancy.

Here are some remedies made from bitter melon.

- Treat sunstroke fever: Deseed one bitter melon. Put tea in the bitter fruit and dry it in a shady area. Then boil 12g of the dried bitter melon and tea in one bowl of water for a potent elixir.

- Cure dry mouth: Deseed one bitter melon, then slice it into small pieces. Put them in a pot. Cover them with water and simmer for 30 minutes, enjoy the medicinal water.

- Fight dysentery: Grind and squeeze one fresh bitter melon for one bowl of juice.

- Remove pimples: Apply ground bitter melon on pimples.

- Stimulate digestion: Squeeze fresh bitter melon and drink 100ml of juice three times a day. The beverage solves problems in the stomach caused by eating too much meat and fat.

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