Ascariasis is one of major diseases in Indonesia. It attacks people from all ages, especially children. Data of Unit for Disease Control and Environmental Health of the Ministry of Health showed the prevalence of Ascariasis in Indonesia reached 28.12 percent. Ascariasis is not only found in rural areas, but also across Indonesia, especially in densely populated areas.
"We have been trying to prevent the spread of the disease since 1995 by giving some synthetic medication, such as Albendazole. But it also has side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain," said Muhammad Dimas Reza Rahmana, student of the Faculty of Medicine Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), when contacted on Tuesday (19/1).
Concerned with these conditions, Dimas along with three other colleagues, Habil Alam Rahman and Deby Aulia Rahmi (Faculty of Medicine), and Lina Permatasari (Faculty of Pharmacy) seek a solution to solve that problem. They did research on bitter melon (Mommordica charantia), a fruit known for its potential to treat intestinal worms. The study was conducted under the guidance of a professor of parasitology, drh. Sitti Rahmah Umniyati, S.U.
Dimas said that both the seeds and leaves of bitter melon have shown to contain anthelmintics. Similarly, the fruit also has potential anthelmintics. However, these studies are still very limited.
"Bitter gourd contains saponins which have the effect of anthelmintics," Dimas said.
Before testing the fruit on roundworms that exist in chickens (Ascaridia galli), they turned bitter melon into bitter melon extracts. After that, bitter melon extract was fused into the water that later will be used to infuse roundworms.
"Worms will be put in a petri dish that has been filled with bitter melon extract," he said.
From these experiments, it is found that after 11 hours of experiment, roundworms’s cell wall was destroyed. Best results is obtained by giving dosage of 23 grams bitter melon fused in 100 ml of water.
"When it was compared with worms marinated in albendazole, it showed no difference so that the fruit could potentially be used as an anthelmintic," he said.
By conducting this study, Dimas expects to provide scientific information for the public related to the anthelmintics effect of bitter melon fruit. However, the further study is required to research bitter melon as an alternative treatment for ascariasis.
"This research is still in its early stages and it still required a variety of advanced test on experimental animals and clinical trials on human to determine the effects of anthelmintics of bitter melon," he concluded.