BITTER MELON

OTHER NAME(S):

African Cucumber, Ampalaya, Balsam Pear, Balsam-Apple, Balsambirne, Balsamine, Balsamo, Bitter Apple, Bitter Cucumber, Bitter Gourd, Bittergurke, Carilla Fruit, Carilla Gourd, Cerasee, Chinli-Chih, Concombre Africain, Courge Amère, Cundeamor, Fructus Mormordicae Grosvenori, Karavella, Karela, Kareli, Kathilla, Kerala, Korolla, Kuguazi, K'u-Kua, Lai Margose, Margose, Melón Amargo, Melon Amer, Momordica, Momordica charantia, Momordica murcata, Momordique, Paroka, Pepino Montero, Poire Balsamique, Pomme de Merveille, P'u-T'ao, Sorosi, Sushavi, Ucche, Vegetable insulin, Wild Cucumber.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Bitter melon is a vegetable used in India and other Asian countries. The fruit and seeds are used to make medicine.

People use bitter melon for diabetes, stomach and intestinal problems, to promote menstruation, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

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

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence 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.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

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.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with BITTER MELON

    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.<br/><br/> Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

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.

View References

REFERENCES:

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  • Akhtar, M. S. Trial of Momordica charantia Linn (Karela) powder in patients with maturity-onset diabetes. J Pak.Med Assoc 1982;32(4):106-107. View abstract.
  • Baldwa VS, Bhandara CM, Pangaria A, and et al. Clinical trials in patients with diabetes mellitus of an insulin-like compound obtained from plant source. Upsala J Med Sci 1977;82:39-41.
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  • Kohno, H., Yasui, Y., Suzuki, R., Hosokawa, M., Miyashita, K., and Tanaka, T. Dietary seed oil rich in conjugated linolenic acid from bitter melon inhibits azoxymethane-induced rat colon carcinogenesis through elevation of colonic PPARgamma expression and alteration of lipid composition. Int J Cancer 7-20-2004;110(6):896-901. View abstract.
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  • Takemoto, D. J., Dunford, C., and McMurray, M. M. The cytotoxic and cytostatic effects of the bitter melon (Momordica charantia) on human lymphocytes. Toxicon 1982;20(3):593-599. View abstract.
  • Takemoto, D. J., Jilka, C., and Kresie, R. Purification and characterization of a cytostatic factor from the bitter melon Momordica charantia. Prep.Biochem 1982;12(4):355-375. View abstract.
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  • Wang, Y. X., Neamati, N., Jacob, J., Palmer, I., Stahl, S. J., Kaufman, J. D., Huang, P. L., Huang, P. L., Winslow, H. E., Pommier, Y., Wingfield, P. T., Lee-Huang, S., Bax, A., and Torchia, D. A. Solution structure of anti-HIV-1 and anti-tumor protein MAP30: structural insights into its multiple functions. Cell 11-12-1999;99(4):433-442. View abstract.
  • Welihinda, J., Arvidson, G., Gylfe, E., Hellman, B., and Karlsson, E. The insulin-releasing activity of the tropical plant momordica charantia. Acta Biol Med Ger 1982;41(12):1229-1240. View abstract.
  • Wong, C. M., Yeung, H. W., and Ng, T. B. Screening of Trichosanthes kirilowii, Momordica charantia and Cucurbita maxima (family Cucurbitaceae) for compounds with antilipolytic activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 1985;13(3):313-321. View abstract.
  • Yasui, Y., Hosokawa, M., Kohno, H., Tanaka, T., and Miyashita, K. Troglitazone and 9cis,11trans,13trans-conjugated linolenic acid: comparison of their antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing effects on different colon cancer cell lines. Chemotherapy 2006;52(5):220-225. View abstract.
  • Ahmad N, Hassan MR, Halder H, Bennoor KS. Effect of Momordica charantia (Karolla) extracts on fasting and postprandial serum glucose levels in NIDDM patients (abstract). Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull 1999;25:11-3. View abstract.
  • Alam MA, Uddin R, Subhan N, Rahman MM, Jain P, Reza HM. Beneficial role of bitter melon supplementation in obesity and related complications in metabolic syndrome. J Lipids. 2015;2015:496169. View abstract.
  • Ali L, Khan AK, Mamun MI, et al. Studies on hypoglycemic effects of fruit pulp, seed, and whole plant of Momordica charantia on normal and diabetic model rats. Planta Med 1993;59:408-12. View abstract.
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  • Aslam M, Stockley IH. Interaction between curry ingredient (karela) and drug (chlorpropamide). Lancet 1979:1:607. View abstract.
  • Baldwa VS, Bhandari CM, Pangaria A, Goyal RK. Clinical trial in patients with diabetes mellitus of an insulin-like compound obtained from plant sources. Ups J Med Sci 1977;82:39-41. View abstract.
  • Basch E, Gabardi S, Ulbricht C. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia): a review of efficacy and safety. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2003;60:356-9. View abstract.
  • Bhattacharya S, Muhammad N, Steele R, Peng G, Ray RB. Immunomodulatory role of bitter melon extract in inhibition of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma growth. Oncotarget. 2016;7(22):33202-9. View abstract.
  • Bourinbaiar AS, Lee-Huang S. The activity of plant-derived antiretroviral proteins MAP30 and GAP31 against herpes simplex virus in vitro. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1996;219:923-9. View abstract.
  • Bourinbaiar AS, Lee-Huang S. Potentiation of anti-HIV activity of anti-inflammatory drugs, dexamethasone and indomethacin, by MAP30, the antiviral agent from bitter melon. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1995;208:779-85. View abstract.
  • Cakici I, Hurmoglu C, Tunctan B, et al. Hypoglycaemic effect of Momordica charantia extracts in normoglycaemic or cyproheptadine-induced hyperglycaemic mice. J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:117-21. View abstract.
  • Cunnick JE, Sakamoto K, Chapes SK, et al. Induction of tumor cytotoxic immune cells using a protein from the bitter melon (Momordica charantia). Cell Immunol 1990;126:278-89. View abstract.
  • Dans AM, Villarruz MV, Jimeno CA, et al. The effect of Momordica charantia capsule preparation on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus needs further studies. J Clin Epidemiol 2007;60:554-9. View abstract.
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  • Grover JK, Vats V, Rathi SS, Dawar R. Traditional Indian anti-diabetic plants attenuate progression of renal damage in streptozotocin induced diabetic mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;76:233-8. View abstract.
  • Jilka C, Strifler B, Fortner GW, et al. In vivo antitumor activity of the bitter melon (Momordica charantia). Cancer Res 1983;43:5151-5. View abstract.
  • Jiratchariyakul W, Wiwat C, Vongsakul M, et al. HIV inhibitor from Thai bitter gourd. Planta Med 2001;67:350-3. View abstract.
  • Leatherdale B, Panesar RK, Singh G, et al. Improvement in glucose tolerance due to Momordica charantia. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:1823-4. View abstract.
  • Lee-Huang S, Huang PL, Chen HC, et al. Anti-HIV and anti-tumor activities of recombinant MAP30 from bitter melon. Gene 1995;161:151-6. View abstract.
  • Lee-Huang S, Huang PL, Huang PL, et al. Inhibition of the integrase of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 by anti-HIV plant proteins MAP30 and GAP31. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1995;92:8818-22. View abstract.
  • Lee-Huang S, Huang PL, Nara PL, et al. MAP 30: a new inhibitor of HIV-1 infection and replication. FEBS Lett 1990;272:12-8. View abstract.
  • Leung SO, Yeung HW, Leung KN. The immunosuppressive activities of two abortifacient proteins isolated from the seeds of bitter melon (Momordica charantia). Immunopharmacol 1987;13:159-71. View abstract.
  • Naseem MZ, Patil SR, Patil SR, et al. Antispermatogenic and androgenic activities of Momordica charantia (Karela) in albino rats. J Ethnopharmacol 1998;61:9-16. View abstract.
  • Rahman IU, Khan RU, Rahman KU, Bashir M. Lower hypoglycemic but higher antiatherogenic effects of bitter melon than glibenclamide in type 2 diabetic patients. Nutr J. 2015;14:13. View abstract.
  • Raman A, et al. Anti-diabetic properties and phytochemistry of Momordica charantia L. (Cucurbitaceae). Phytomedicine 1996;294.
  • Sarkar S, Pranava M, Marita R. Demonstration of the hypoglycemic action of Momordica charantia in a validated animal model of diabetes. Pharmacol Res 1996;33:1-4. View abstract.
  • Schreiber CA, Wan L, Sun Y, et al. The antiviral agents, MAP30 and GAP31, are not toxic to human spermatozoa and may be useful in preventing the sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Fertil Steril 1999;72:686-90. View abstract.
  • Shibib BA, Khan LA, Rahman R. Hypoglycaemic activity of Coccinia indica and Momordica charantia in diabetic rats: depression of the hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and elevation of both liver and red-cell shunt enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. Biochem J 1993;292:267-70. View abstract.
  • Somasagara RR, Deep G, Shrotriya S, Patel M, Agarwal C, Agarwal R. Bitter melon juice targets molecular mechanisms underlying gemcitabine resistance in pancreatic cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2015;46(4):1849-57. View abstract.
  • Srivastava Y, Venkatakrishna-Bhatt H, Verma Y, et al. Antidiabetic and adaptogenic properties of Momordica charantia extract: An experimental and clinical evaluation. Phytother Res 1993;7:285-9.
  • Vikrant V, Grover JK, Tandon N, et al. Treatment with extracts of Momordica charantia and Eugenia jambolana prevents hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia in fructose fed rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;76:139-43. View abstract.
  • Welihinda J, et al. Effect of Momordica charantia on the glucose tolerance in maturity onset diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol 1986;17:277-82. View abstract.
  • Yin RV, Lee NC, Hirpara H, Phung OJ. T. The effect of bitter melon (Mormordica charantia) in patients with diabetes mellitus: s systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Diabetes. 2014;4:e145. View abstract.

More Resources for BITTER MELON

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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