Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon


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 is 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 not all research agrees. Higher-quality studies are needed.
  • Prediabetes. Early research shows that it does not reduce blood sugar in people with prediabetes.
  • Osteoarthritis. Early research shows that bitter melon decreases the amount of pain medicine needed by people with osteoarthritis. But it doesn’t seem to improve symptoms.
  • A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome).
  • Kidney stones.
  • Liver disease.
  • Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis).
  • Wound healing.
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia).
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis).
  • Infection of the intestines by parasites.
  • Other conditions.

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

Side Effects Of Bitter Melon

  • When taken by mouth: Bitter melon is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth short-term (up to 4 months). It may cause an upset stomach in some people. The safety of long-term use is unknown.
  • When applied to the skin: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if it is safe when applied to the skin. It might cause a rash.

Warnings & Precautions

  • 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 it 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 it 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 the 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 it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Dosage Of Bitter Melon

The appropriate dose 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. 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.


Consult your doctor or pharmacist.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.