Bitter Melon and Diabetes

Bitter Melon Effects on Diabetes

Bitter Melon’s powerful insulin lowering properties are currently being looked at as an effective treatment for Diabetes. Studies suggest that Bitter Melon may play a role in controlling the production of insulin by the body, thus promoting blood sugar control. The hypoglycemic effect is more pronounced in the fruit of Bitter Melon where these chemicals are found in the highest quantity. Some of the documented studies show this bitter gourd to enhance cells’ uptake of glucose, to promote insulin release, and to make the effect of insulin more potent. Some even document Bitter Melon’s effect on total cholesterol reduction.

Seen as a “Pnat-Insulin”

Scientists, natural health practitioners, and others are now focusing on the beneficial properties of this gourd with promising returns. 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. It is not, however, advisable to substitute eating Bitter Melon for taking insulin.

In India, for example, some doctors are so confident about the anti-diabetic effect of Bitter Melon that it is sometimes dispensed in hospitals to people suffering from diabetes. Additionally, the department of Health in the Philippines has recommended Bitter Melon as one of the best herbal medicines for treating diabetes.

There are three groups of compounds in Bitter Melon that scientists have found to be responsible for its blood sugar lowering action:

  • Charantin: a compound of mixed steroids that has been found to be more effective than one oral hypoglycaemic drug, Tolbutamide.
  • 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.
  • Oleanolic Acid Glycosides: These compounds have been found to improve glucose tolerance in Type II diabetics by preventing the absorption of sugar from the intestines. Biter Melon has also been linked to effects of increasing the number of beta cells in the pancreas as well, and as a result improving the body’s capability to produce insulin.


The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease.