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Karela General Info: Karela Ayurvedic Properties, Medicinal Uses and Dosage

Bitter Gourd Herb, better known as Karela is a seasonal vegetable-fruit. It is very famous for its bitter taste and its high phosphorus content. Apart from phosphorus, it is a powerhouse of various other vital nutrients like iron, magnesium, dietary fiber, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B9.

It belongs to the family of cucumbers. It is 10 to 20cm in length and elliptical with tapering ends. It varies from pale green to dark green. They turn reddish-orange when ripe. It has antidotal, antipyretic, appetizing, stomachic, antibilious, and laxative properties. It naturally detoxifies, improves digestive functions, and boosts metabolism. It purifies blood, helps in the working of the intestines, activates the spleen and liver, and is highly beneficial in reducing the symptoms of diabetes.

The bitter gourd is a perennial vegetable that grows on a tendril stem with a usual height of up to 16 feet. It is available in two sizes small and large with rough protruding ridges on the body. Inside, the seed cavity contains flat seeds which are soft when they are fresh and become hard and yellowish as they ripen. Karela starts losing its bitterness as it ripens.


Karela belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, which goes with the scientific name Momordica charantia. its detailed classification is given as:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Cucurbitales
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Genus: Momordica
  • Species: charantia


According to the Biologists, Bitter Gourd is said to have its origin in Kerala – India. It has been borrowed and propagated thereafter to the countries of China and subsequently to all the Southeast Asian, South Asian, and East Asian countries. Bitter Gourd is a very important herb, used in native medicines of Asia and Africa.

Karela Ayurvedic Properties

The goodness of Karela is widely promoted by Ayurvedic for ages and is known as Karavellaka or Karelli in Sanskrit. Ayurvedic scriptures like Dravyaguna Vignana describe Karela with a tikta rasa or a bitter taste, with dry qualities that are rooksha and laghu guna and an ushna virya or hot potency.

It is said to possess Deepan properties, which help to create an appetite. The Ayurvedic practitioners have always recommended Karela – the vegetable fruit or the leaves due to its hypolipidemic activity, which effectively reduces the bad cholesterol in the blood. Regular intake of this incredible vegetable, due to its monomers, helps to fight and prevent various types of cancers like lymphoma, melanoma, breast cancer, skin, and prostate cancer.

Effects on Dosha:

It is a tridoshic herb – it helps to fight all imbalances related to the tridosha – Vata, Kapha, and pitta. It typically works to cleanse the digestive system. The bitter taste of Karela and its leaves offers a wide range of health benefits to fight against various diseases and ailments. Traditional medicine validates the therapeutic properties characterized by its bitter taste and its unique property to cleanse, protect and heal the digestive system.

It is also referred to as a stomachic which means that it improves appetite, serves as a laxative, anti-bilious, emetic in cases of stomach wash, anti-parasitic, and is also recommended for treating cough, respiratory ailments, and for managing rheumatism.

The medicinal properties in Karela are contributed due to the high levels of antioxidants, phenols, isoflavones, flavonoids, glucosinolates, and various other components.

Medicinal uses

Benefits of Karela Juice:

Lowers the bad Cholesterol
  • Bad cholesterol in layman terms can lead to partial or complete blockage of the arteries leading to atherosclerosis, heart attack, and various other coronary heart problems.
  • Karela juice, being rich in iron, helps in lowering the levels of LDL and protects the heart.
Helps to manage Blood Sugar:
  • Due to hypoglycemic properties of the bitter gourd it works incredibly for treating type -1 and type – 2diabetes.
  • However, if suffering from low sugar levels, a consultation is mandatory with the physician before consuming Karela.
Keeps the liver healthy:
  • The antioxidants help to detoxify the liver and stimulate the secretion of bile acids, essential for various bodily functions like digestion to metabolizing fat.
  • Bitter gourd juice is emetic which helps to induce nausea leading to cleansing the system from within.
  • The antioxidants help to strengthen the liver, prevent its failure and avoid infection caused due to alcohol.
Helps to Improve Immunity:

The huge presence of antioxidants in bitter gourd help to fight the damages caused due to free-radical which prevents cancer and the growth of cancer cells.

Helps to maintain good eyesight
  • Being rich in Vitamin A and Beta Carotene, regular intake of Karela juice improves eyesight and prevents vision-related conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, etc.
  • It is also recommended for children who develop nearsightedness at a young age as it helps in restricting the further decline in sight.
Helps to cure Ulcer:
  • Bitter gourd is quite beneficial in treating various digestive and stomach ailments like constipation, intestinal worms, and ulcers.
  • Being a great source of dietary fiber, having this vegetable as a part of our daily diet improves bowel movements, cleanses the stomach, and prevents the formation of stomach ulcers.
Blood Purifier:
  • Karela purifies the blood owing to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
  • It also strengthens the metabolism by breaking the fat molecules, which results in an automatic loss of weight.
Relief from Gout:
  • Gout is a condition caused due to very high levels of uric acid in the body. In this condition, the joints become red, hot, and tender with extreme pain.
  • Karela is a storehouse of iron, potassium, magnesium, and other vital vitamins and minerals that helps to provide relief from the pain and control the level of uric acid in the body.

Karela For Mental Health:

Enhances Cognitive Abilities:
  • Bitter gourd is a rich source of Vitamin C that not only boosts immunity but also helps to protect the brain cells from oxidative stress and prevents damages due to free radicals.
  • The tannins, flavonoids in bitter gourd help to promote memory, intellect, concentration, thereby greatly elevating the retentive power of the brain.
Uplifts Mood and Energy:
  • Karela is an amazing source of energy for the brain, with Vitamin B1 and B2(riboflavin). It increases productivity and promotes a healthy metabolism. This helps to effectively combat mental stress, fatigue, and safeguards against the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Karela for Skin:
  • Radiant Skin: The rich antioxidants, vitamins, minerals in Karela are all you need to glow from within. Vitamin A and vitamin C play are crucial in preventing wrinkles and reduce acne, pimples.
  • Prevents Psoriasis and Eczema: Eczema is a common condition caused usually in winters due to dry skin. Bittergourd is very effective in providing relief from the breakage of skin and psoriasis, ringworm, itching, and various other fungal infections. Since it cleanses the blood, it helps to fight against skin infections from within, and its anti-inflammatory properties aid in treating acne.
Karela For Hair:
  • Treats Dandruff: Helps to remove dandruff effectively.
  • Removes Excess Oil: Reduces the secretion of excess oil in the hair follicles.
  • Prevents Greying: It prevents graying of hair making the hair shinier and smoother.
  • Juice of the fresh leaves of bitter gourd helps to cure piles and promotes a healthy movement of bowels.
  • Blood Disorder: Bitter gourd is highly effective in treating blood disorders like scabies, itching, psoriasis, ringworm, and other fungal diseases.
  • Fresh juice bitter gourd leaves is extremely effective in treating the initial symptoms of cholera and initial medicine in the early stages of cholera and symptoms of diarrhea.


As per the recommended dosage by the physician.

  • If taken in excess, Karela might cause severe stomach pain and diarrhea.
  • Pregnant women in the early months should restrain from consuming bitter gourd as it may induce cramps leading to vaginal bleeding and miscarriage.
  • If recovering from recent surgery, then karela should be consumed only after consultation with the doctor.
  • Those who are diabetic should first consult their physician and then eat bitter gourd as per the recommendation of the physician.

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About Dr. Ranjana Kaushal

Dr. Ranjana Kaushal (MD Ayurveda) has 11 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda. Right now she is working as an Ayurveda consultant with Life Aveda. She has immense knowledge about herbs, their uses, and formulations. She has published articles related to many herbs and diseases in an international journal. She is also a degree holder in yoga and naturopathy. Read More..

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