Possible adaptogenic effects of Momordica charantia on high-intensity training-induced alteration in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2020 Nov;67(3):290-296. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.20-96. Epub 2020 Oct 10.


This study investigated the effects of a drink supplement containing Momordica charantia extract from bitter melon on physical fitness and levels of stress hormones during a four-week exercise training program in a hot environment. Ten male tennis players were orally administrated in a four-week (100 ml, 6 times a day), and the pre- and post-supplementation levels of different physical fitness variables and cortisol, and adrenocorticotropic hormone in plasma were measured at four time-points-before (baseline), during, and after the exercise, and on the next day of the supplementation. The findings showed that the supplementation has significant positive effects on enhancement of physical fitness parameters especially balance (d = 22.10, p = 0.013), flexibility (d = 4.83, p = 0.015), and cardiorespiratory fitness (d = 10.00, p = 0.030). Moreover, the adrenocorticotropic hormone levels were reduced during the exercise, and the cortisol levels showed the decreasing trend during and after the exercise, which was correlated with the change of cardiorespiratory fitness (r = 0.65, p<0.05). These results indicated the possible adaptogenic effects of Momordica charantia extract intake. Based on the findings, we suggest that Momordica charantia could be used as a source of adaptogenic supplement to alleviate the exercise- and environment-induced stress.

Keywords: HPA axis; Momordica charantia; adaptogenic effects; high-intensity exercise; stress hormone.