Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bitter gourd

Botanical Name:  Mmordica charantia 
English: Bitter gourd
Sinhala: Kariwila
Family: Cucurbitaceae

Bitter gourd cultivation in Sri Lanka

Bitter gourd is unknown, but it is widely spread throughout the tropical countries.  In Sri Lanka Bitter gourd is eaten as a vegetable. It can be successfully grown on elevation from sea level to about 1200m. It can be cultivated in low country and mid country during both seasons. The identified districts for Bitter gourd production are Kurunegala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura , Puttalam, and Amparai districts. The identified districts of Kurunagala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kandy. and Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Amparai will be the major Bitter gourd cultivating areas in Sri Lanka.The recommended varieties are Thinnavely white and mc43. Although the other two genotypes are similar to Thinnaveli white and mc43 but dark green in colour are popular among the farmers.

Nutritional Value

The fruit is a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B.  Nutritional composition (values are per 100g of edible portion is given below)

Source: Tables of Food Composition .Medical Research Institute, Colombo

Therapeutic Values

Bitter gourd has been used in the Auruwedha and traditional medicinal system in Asian countries for a longer period of time. The fruits and leaves are used as a vermifuge, and for piles, leprosy and jaundice. The leaves are used in the treatment of colic. The root is an ingredient in aphrodisiacal preparations and used externally for hemorrhoids. The fruit is useful for rheumatism, gout and diseases of the spleen and liver. In large doses it is a drastic purgative and is considered antiabortion. 

It is also used for diabetes, kidney stones, fever, a skin condition called psoriasis, and liver disease; to start menstruation; and as supportive treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels.

Karavila is also a very effective beauty aids. The leaves are crushed and the juice is massaged into the skull. It encourages the growth of hair. Loss of hair is a common worry for many people.


  • Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka.


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