Bitter Melon - What is it & How to use

Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels.

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for BITTER MELON are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Diabetes. Research results so far are conflicting and inconclusive. Some research shows that taking bitter melon can reduce blood sugar levels and lower HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar control over time) in people with type 2 diabetes. But these studies have some flaws, and conflicting results exist. Higher quality studies are needed.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Liver disease.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Skin abscesses and wounds.
  • Stomach and intestinal disorders.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bitter melon for these uses.

Dose

The appropriate dose of bitter melon depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bitter melon. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Safety Concerns

Bitter melon is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth short-term (up to 3 months). Bitter melon may cause an upset stomach in some people. The safety of long-term use of bitter melon is not known. There also is not enough information about the safety of applying bitter melon directly to the skin.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bitter melon is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Certain chemicals in bitter melon might start menstrual bleeding and have caused abortion in animals. Not enough is known about the safety of using bitter melon during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: Bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take medications to lower your blood sugar, adding bitter melon might make your blood sugar drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency: People with G6PD deficiency might develop “favism” after eating bitter melon seeds. Favism is a condition named after the fava bean, which is thought to cause “tired blood” (anemia), headache, fever, stomach pain, and coma in certain people. A chemical found in bitter melon seeds is related to chemicals in fava beans. If you have G6PD deficiency, avoid bitter melon.

Surgery: There is a concern that bitter melon might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using bitter melon at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interaction with medication

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Bitter melon can decrease blood sugar levels. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking bitter melon along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), repaglinide (Prandin), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), and others.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.