Bitter melon is a climbing vine that has edible green fruit.
The bitter melon plant comes from the gourd family called . Its scientific name is (. ).
This plant grows in India and other parts of Asia—with a traditional use for diabetes (high blood sugar).
Bitter melon contains several substances like phytosterols and terpenoids. These substances may be responsible for bitter melon's medicinal effects.
This article discusses what you should know about bitter melon—its health claims, side effects, and interactions.
While more, extensive research is necessary regarding effectiveness, people generally use bitter melon to treat various health conditions.
Research is most robust for the following:
According to a 2012 systematic review (a methodical review of a collection of studies), there were no differences in blood sugar control between bitter melon and (a substance with no medicine in it).
Moreover, bitter melon didn't have significant changes on blood sugar control when compared to .
In a 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis (a methodical review and analysis of a collection of studies), bitter melon supplements did not lower or (a test that measures average blood sugar levels within the past three months) when compared to no treatment.
In a small clinical trial of people with , however, results suggested that bitter melon blood sugar lowering effects when compared to placebo.
So, presently, there isn't enough evidence to support bitter melon use for or diabetes. And further standardized and high-quality studies are warranted.
Based on the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis, bitter melon didn't significantly lower blood pressure.
Due to these results, future rigorous research with higher-quality and larger studies is still necessary to better understand bitter melon's effects.
Bitter melon is a nutritious vegetable. The following table displays nutrients based in grams (g), milligrams (mg), micrograms (mcg), and micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (mcg RAE) in 100 g of bitter melon, which is just over 1 cup.
While there are some studies on bitter melon in humans, more research with high-quality clinical trials is still necessary.
Essential differences in bitter melon strengths and dosage forms among clinical trials exist. No official guidelines have been concluded on the appropriate dosage to use bitter melon for any condition.
The specific dose may vary based on the dosage form and medical condition. If you use bitter melon, follow a healthcare provider's recommendations or product label instructions.
There are several ways to include bitter melon into your diet. For example, you can chop the bitter melon and eat it raw. Before doing so, you can salt the bitter melon and squeeze the juice out to lessen the plant's bitterness.
You may also thinly coat raw or fried bitter melon with lime juice.
What's more, bitter melon tends to go well with coconut milk or beef and black-bean sauce. Aside from curry, you may also find bitter melon as an ingredient in spicy pickle with asafoetida and mango. Asafoetida is a fetid gum derived from the dried latex from species.
Bitter melon, as with many many medications and natural products, may have side effects.
Common side effects of bitter melon may include the following:
Possible serious side effects may include the following:
If you're having a severe allergic reaction or if any of your symptoms feel life-threatening, call 911 and get medical help right away.
A healthcare provider may advise against bitter melon if any of the following applies to you:
Available toxicity studies in humans didn't record any severe side effects with bitter melon use.
But there are reports of the following:
More information about the toxicity, safety, and overdose of bitter melon in humans is still warranted.
If you suspect you're experiencing life-threatening side effects, seek immediate medical attention.
Bitter melon might interact with the following medications:
Bitter melon has potential uses in diabetes and high blood pressure.
Other similar supplements may include:
There are a few different sources of bitter melon.
Bitter melon is naturally available as a vegetable, and you may eat it raw.
Bitter melon also tends to go well with coconut milk or beef and black-bean sauce. Aside from curry, you may also find bitter melon as an ingredient in spicy pickle with asafoetida and mango.
Bitter melon supplements are commonly available as capsules.
Other dosage forms of bitter melon may also include the following:
But some of these products might combine bitter melon with other ingredients. You may also see vegetarian and vegan options.
Your specific product will depend on your preference and health goals. Each product may work a bit differently, depending on the form.
So, following a healthcare provider's recommendations or label directions is essential.
Bitter melon is a climbing vine with edible green fruit.
It has a few potential uses, including high blood pressure and sugar. Further extensive research is necessary.
Before using bitter melon, involve a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.