Bitter melon, or Momordica charantia, is a bitter tasting Asian fruit that is often touted for its benefit in diabetes. However, like most herb and food-based treatments, clinical studies haven’t shown any solid benefit in diabetes or weight control. But bitter taste might have some benefit. Released today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is a study using denatonium benzoate, a molecule which almost defines bitterness. It reacts strongly with taste 2 receptors (one of the five different taste receptors), and is added to liquid household products to prevent their ingestion through “taste aversion”. The investigators delivered it intragastrically, bypassing oral taste receptors, and showed that it changed gastric motility, increased satiety, and decreased hunger. These changes might be related to inhibition of motilin release. This could provide a simple, safe approach to a new pathway for weight and appetite control. Interestingly, women were both more sensitive to the bitter taste, and also to denatonium’s effect when delivered intragastrically.
See abstract here.