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Bitter melon

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Bitter melon (Momordica charantia ). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: Bitter melon has been associated with preterm labor. Certain chemicals in bitter melon fruit and juice can start menstrual bleeding and have caused abortion in animals. Avoid bitter melon during pregnancy. (9)

Warning 2 - 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.

Warning 3 - G6PD deficiency: If you have Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency avoid bitter melon. People with G6PD deficiency might develop "favism" after eating bitter melon seeds. Favism is a condition named after fava beans, which is thought to cause "tired blood" (anemia), headache, fever, stomach pain, and even coma in certain people. There is a chemical found in bitter melon seeds that is related to chemicals in fava beans.

Warning 4 - Surgery: There is some 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.

Bitter melon contains the nutrients Zinc, Potassium, Vitamin C, Folic acid, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Copper, and Pantothenic acid (See reference 8).

Used as a natural health remedy: Bitter melon has been used internally for the following conditions:
  • Colitis
  • Constipation (9)
  • Diabetes, lowering sugar level (7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Digestive system (9)
  • Endocrine system (9)
  • Fever (9)
  • Gastrointestinal problems (GI)
  • HIV/AIDS (7, 9)
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Intestinal worms
  • Kidney stones
  • Leukemia (8)
  • Liver disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Stomach problems
  • To start menstruation
  • Ulcers
Used as a natural health remedy: Bitter melon has been used externally for the following conditions:
  • deep skin infections (abscesses)
  • cuts, scraps and minor wounds

Side Effects of Bitter melon

The known side effects of using Bitter melon include the following:
  1. dizziness
  2. headache
  3. vomiting
Other side effects may also occur when using Bitter melon. (See form below)

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2014 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Bitter melon and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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