Bitter Melon: Scientists Say This Fruit is a Real Help for Diabetes


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Do you know bitter melon contains a plant chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels?

Bitter melon has been used as a traditional medicine in China, India, Africa, and the southeastern US for cancer, asthma, skin infections, stomach problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes symptoms.

Bitter melon is also know to provide vitamins A & C and potassium 2.


How Does it Help Manage Diabetes?

As per the UK Diabetes Community (source:, better melon fruit contains following four substances with anti-diabetic properties:

  1. Vicine
  2. Polypeptide-p – it works like plant insulin.
  3. Lectin – it is known to reduce blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing appetite.
  4. Charantin – it has been confirmed to have a blood glucose-lowering effect.

All of the above ingredients either work individually or together to help reduce blood sugar levels.

It is also believed that lectin is thought to be a major factor behind the hypoglycemic effect that develops after eating bitter melon.

Scientific Evidence about Bitter Melon and it’s Impact on Diabetes!

bittermelonwithhand_mIn January 2011, the results of a four-week clinical trial were published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which showed that a 2,000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced  blood glucose levels among patients with type 2 diabetes, although the hypoglycemic effect was less than a 1,000 mg/day dose of metformin.

Other older studies have also suggested an association between bitter melon intake and improved glycemic control, while a report published in the March 2008 issue of Chemistry and Biology found that bitter melon increased cellular uptake of glucose and improved glucose tolerance.

As per and, here is the summary of the scientific evidences and research work on bitter melon and its impact on diabetes:

  • The hypoglycemic effects of bitter melon have been established in animal studies. Improved glucose tolerance, suppression of postprandial hyperglycemia, and enhanced insulin sensitivity have been demonstrated in rodents and rabbits.
  • More large scale, double-blind, randomized clinical trials are required to establish definitive connection to meet the scientific standards.
  • Polypeptide P: An insuline-like plypeptide which appears to lower blood sugar in type I diabetics. Alkaloids present in the bitter gourd are also noted to have blood sugar lowering effects but researchers are not yet clear on which of the compounds is most effective or if it is the combination of all of them which cuase this effect.
  • In Ayurvedic medicine, Bitter Melon is seen as a “plant-insulin”, and some studies show that, if administered correctly, it can behave similarly to slow-acting animal insulins which represents exciting potential for a more sustainable, vegetarian, source of insulin.

How Safe is it?

Bitter melon is an annual tropical plant growing to 2 m in height that is cultivated in Asia, Africa, South America, and India.

The plant has lobed leaves, yellow flowers, and edible but bitter-tasting, orange-yellow fruit.

The unripe fruit is green and cucumber-shaped with surface bumps.

Dosage: Bitter melon juice has been recommended for diabetes at daily doses of 50 to 100 mL; 900 mg of fruit 3 times/day has also been given for the same indication.

Adverse Reactions: Bitter melon generally causes few adverse reactions. GI effects (eg, abdominal pain, diarrhea) and headache have been reported in clinical trials.

Other Benefits of Bitter Melon

Bitter melon is widely used as a traditional medicine for the following:

  • Colic
  • Chronic Cough
  • Burns
  • Fever
  • Stomach and intestinal disorders
  • Ulcers
  • Colitis
  • Constipation

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  5.  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Bitter melon. Available at: Accessed January 2, 2011.
  6. USDA National Nutrient Database. Balsam-pear (bitter gourd), pods, raw. Available at:
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