Bitter melon is a vegetable, eaten in certain countries such as India and Asia. It is thought to have direct hypoglycemic activity, but this may depend on having viable beta cell function in the pancreas. There may be some other activity such as increased tissue glucose uptake, glycogen synthesis, and decreased blood glucose production. Bitter melon may produce gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort, severe reactions like hypoglycemic coma, and unusual effects such as "favism" characterized by headache, fever, abdominal pain, and coma. Like fenugreek, there is a concern for spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. If combined with secretagogues, additive hypoglycemia may occur. Research has been conducted in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but again the quality is not optimal.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Pages:
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Laura Shane-McWhorter, PharmD, BCPS, FASCP, CDE, BC-ADM
November 24, 2001
Last Updated: Friday August 30, 2002 10:33:14
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