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Bitter Melon

Also indexed as:Momordica charantia, Ku Gua
Bitter Melon: Main Image© Steven Foster
Common names:
Ku Gua
Botanical names:
Momordica charantia

Parts Used & Where Grown

Bitter melon grows in tropical areas, including parts of East Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America, where it is used as a food as well as a medicine. The fruit of this plant lives up to its name--it tastes bitter. Although the seeds, leaves, and vines of bitter melon have all been used, the fruit is the safest and most prevalent part of the plant used medicinally.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Type 2 Diabetes
50 to 100 ml of juice daily or 5 grams three times daily of powdered fruit2 stars[2 stars]
Whole, fried slices, water extracts, and juice of bitter melon may improve blood-sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Bitter melon acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Being a relatively common food item, bitter melon was traditionally used for an array of conditions by people in tropical regions. Numerous infections, cancer, and diabetes were among the most common conditions it has been purported to improve.1 The leaves and fruit have both been used in the Western world to make teas and beer or to season soups.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.