Image for Bitter melon () and MAP30
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) and MAP30

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • African cucumber, alpha-momorcharin, ampalaya, balsam-apple, Balsambirne (German), balsam pear, balsambirne, balsamo, beta-momorcharin, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, bitter gourd, bittergurke, bitter melon capsules, bitter melon extract, bitter melon juice, bitter melon malt vinegar, bitter melon seed oil, carilla gourd, cerasse, charantin, chinli-chih, Cucurbitaceae (family), cundeamor, fructus mormordiacea grosvenori, GlyMordica®, goya, kakara, karavella, karela, kareli, kathilla, kerala, Koimidori bitter melon, kuguazi, K'u-kua, Lai margose, MAP30, Mormodica angustifolia, Momordica charantia, Momordica charantia peroxidase, momordique, pavakkachedi, pepino montero, P'u-t'ao, sorosi, sushavi, vegetable insulin, wild cucumber.
  • Combination product examples: AirDefense, Amazon A-V®, Blood Support®, C-F®, Heart Support®, Hypertension Support®, Skin-A Support®, AntiBetic®, Ayurvedic Blood Sugar Formula®, BioSET Blood Sugar®, Bitter Melon Complex®, Bitter Melon Sugar Balance Plus Tablets®, Blood Sugar Formula®, Clinical Nutrients for Glucose Regulation®, Diabecon, Diabest®, Diabinil®, Dia-B-Tea®, Dia-Comp®, Doctor's Choice for Diabetics®, Extract Alpha®, Fenugreek Plus®, Glucobetic®, GlucoChrom®, Gluco-Essentials®, GlucoLean®, Glucoreg Bitter Melon Formula®, Glucoril®, Gluco-Science®, Glucose M1®, Glucose M2®, Glucose Metabolism Factors®, Glucose Optimizer®, LEAN Resist 1®, Lean Results®, MedCaps I S®, N-Tense®, ProHerbs Blood Sugar Balance®, Resist 2®, Shape 4 Life Type 1®, Shape 4 Life Type 2®, SugarReg®, SyndromeX®, Transitions Carbohydrate Absorption Inhibitor®, Transfer Factor GluCoach®.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Bitter melon (Momordica charantia L. Curcurbitaceae) is native to the tropics and has traditionally been used as a remedy for lowering blood glucose in patients with diabetes mellitus. Extracts and powdered formulations of the fruit are most frequently used, although teas made from the stems and leaves are sometimes used.
  • Data from in vitro, animal, and several poorly designed human studies suggest a moderate hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon and some of its crude extracts (1;2;3;4), although one higher quality study found no evidence of this (5). The available human investigations have principally tested bitter melon juice in type 2 diabetics. However, dosage, toxicity, standardization, adverse effects, and long-term outcomes have not been systematically assessed (6). Further study is warranted in this area.
  • Constituents of bitter melon have been isolated that possess antiviral and antineoplastic activities in vitro. In particular, a protein called MAP30 has shown some promise, although no human trials have been conducted (7;8;9;10;11;12;13;14).
  • Bitter melon is also consumed as a foodstuff, and is found as an ingredient in some south Asian curries. The raw fruit is available in specialty Asian markets where it is known as karela.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.