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Bitter Melon

Plant Part Used



While bitter melon or karela fruit has long been used in South America and the Orient as a food source, it also serves many medicinal purposes. Scientists have turned their focus on the beneficial properties of the fruit in diabetes and conditions related to diabetes, as well as HIV and certain cancers. (1) , (2)

Interactions and Depletions


Dosage Info

Dosage Range

200-400mg (standardized extract), 2-3 times daily.

Most Common Dosage

200mg (standardized extract), 2 times daily.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 5.1% triterpenes per dose.

Reported Uses

Bitter melon’s most notable benefit is in the area of diabetes treatment. Studies suggest that the fruit may play a role in controlling the production of insulin by the body, thus promoting blood sugar control. (3) , (4) Bitter melon was evaluated in one hundred non-insulin dependent diabetics for its impact on serum glucose levels. Eigthy-six patients experienced a significant reduction of serum glucose levels following both fasting and eating. (5)

Cholesterol levels were also reduced in studies of diabetics who were given bitter melon, suggesting it may play a role in helping to reduce certain cardiovascular risk factors. (6)

The mature fruits of bitter melon have been used externally for the rapid healing of wounds and internally for the treatment of peptic ulcers in Turkish folk medicine. The use for peptic ulcer has been supported in an animal study. (7)

Bitter melon has also been studied as part of the fight against HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. An anti-HIV plant protein has been identified and purified from bitter melon that is capable of acting against multiple stages of the virus’ life cycle. (8) , (9) Other studies have suggested that bitter melon may play a role in inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors. (10) , (11)

Toxicities & Precautions


[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]


This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Health Conditions

If you have existing liver disease including alcoholic cirrhosis, use of this dietary supplement is not recommended. (12) Talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

This dietary supplement should not be used in pregnant women. According to research, bitter melon can induce abortion. (13)

This dietary supplement should not be used if you are breast-feeding an infant without first consulting a physician.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Read More

  1) Malaysian Herbal Plants

  2) South Central American Herbs

  3) South African Herbs

  4) Ayuverda



  1. View Abstract: Khanna P, et al. Hypoglycemic Activity of Polypeptide-P From a Plant Source. J Nat Prod. Nov1981; 44(6):648-55.
  2. View Abstract: Lee-Huang S, et al. Anti-HIV and Anti-Tumor Activities of Recombinant MAP30 From Bitter Melon. Gene. Aug1995;161(2):151-56.
  3. View Abstract: Leatherdale BA, et al. Improvement in Glucose Tolerance Due to Momordica Charantia (Karela). Br Med J. (Clin Res Ed). Jun1981;282(6279):1823-24.
  4. View Abstract: Welihinda J, et al. Effect of Momordica Charantia on the Glucose Tolerance in Maturity Onset Diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol. Sep1986;17(3):277-82.
  5. View Abstract: Ahmad N, Hassan MR, Halder H, et al. Effect of Momordica charantia (Karolla) Extracts on Fasting and Postprandial Serum Glucose Levels in NIDDM Patients. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull. Apr1999;25(1):11-3.
  6. Patel K, et al. Effect of Dietary Intake of Freeze Dried Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia) in Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Rats. Nahrung. 1995;39(4):262-68.
  7. View Abstract: Gurbuz I, Akyuz C, Yesilada E, et al. Anti-ulcerogenic Effect of Momordica charantia L. Fruits on Various Ulcer Models in Rats. J Ethnopharmacol. Jul2000;71(1-2):77-82.
  8. View Abstract: Lee-Huang S, et al. Anti-HIV and Anti-Tumor Activities of Recombinant MAP30 From Bitter Melon. Gene. Aug1995;161(2):151-56.
  9. View Abstract: Chiampanichayakul S, Kataoka K, Arimochi H, Thumvijit S, Kuwahara T, Nakayama H, et al. Inhibitory effects of bitter melon (Momordica charantia Linn.) on bacterial mutagenesis and aberrant crypt focus formation in the rat colon. J Med Invest. Feb2001;48(1-2):88-96.
  10. View Abstract: Lee-Huang S, et al. Anti-HIV and Anti-Tumor Activities of Recombinant MAP30 From Bitter Melon. Gene. Aug1995;161(2):151-56.
  11. View Abstract: Jiratchariyakul W, Wiwat C, Vongsakul M, Somanabandhu A, Leelamanit W, Fujii I, et al. HIV inhibitor from Thai bitter gourd. Planta Med. Jun2001;67(4):350-3.
  12. View Abstract: Tennekoon KH, et al. Effect of Momordica Charantia on Key Hepatic Enzymes. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct1994;44(2):93-97.
  13. View Abstract: Leung SO, et al. The Immunosuppressive Activities of Two Abortifacient Proteins Isolated From the Seeds of Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia). Immunopharmacology. Jun1987;13(3):159-71.






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