Background: Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) is a common tropical vegetable that has been used in traditional or folk medicine to treat diabetes. Wild bitter gourd (WBG) ameliorated metabolic syndrome (MetS) in animal models. We aimed to preliminarily evaluate the effect of WBG supplementation on MetS in Taiwanese adults.
Methods: A preliminary open-label uncontrolled supplementation trial was conducted in eligible fulfilled the diagnosis of MetS from May 2008 to April 2009. A total of 42 eligible (21 men and 21 women) with a mean age of 45.7 ± 11.4 years (23 to 63 years) were supplemented with 4.8 gram lyophilized WBG powder in capsules daily for three months and were checked for MetS at enrollment and follow-up monthly. After supplementation was ceased, the participants were continually checked for MetS monthly over an additional three-month period. MetS incidence rate were analyzed using repeated-measures generalized linear mixed models according to the intention-to-treat principle.
Results: After adjusting for sex and age, the MetS incidence rate (standard error, p value) decreased by 7.1% (3.7%, 0.920), 9.5% (4.3%, 0.451), 19.0% (5.7%, 0.021), 16.7% (5.4%, 0.047), 11.9% (4.7%, 0.229) and 11.9% (4.7%, 0.229) at visit 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 compared to that at baseline (visit 1), respectively. The decrease in incidence rate was highest at the end of the three-month supplementation period and it was significantly different from that at baseline (p = 0.021). The difference remained significant at end of the 4th month (one month after the cessation of supplementation) (p = 0.047) but the effect diminished at the 5th and 6th months after baseline. The waist circumference also significantly decreased after the supplementation (p < 0.05). The WBG supplementation was generally well-tolerated.
Conclusion: This is the first report to show that WBG improved MetS in human which provides a firm base for further randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of WBG supplementation.