Bitter Melon

Over the years I’ve tested a number of the supplements that come with claims about reducing blood sugars after eating. Most of them are somewhere in the range between hogwash, BS and outright lies. However there was one exception. Bitter Melon which apparently is very commonly used by diabetics in India, seems at least at first try, to be somewhat promising.
Bitter Melon is like most melons, you should scoop out the center part and seeds and use the rest for cooking. It definitely does have a quite bitter taste which can be quite overwhelming when mixed with otherwise mild ingredients but fits in ok with a spicy meal. In my case, my test was to make a vegetable stir fry for dinner two days in a row. The meals were identical except on day two I included a chopped up bitter melon. For carbs on both days I had a large Kaiser bun. I tested my blood sugar one hour after I finished eating, on both days.
The results were,

  • day one (no bitter melon): 14.6 (263)
  • day two (incl. bitter melon): 11.2 (202)
    I’ll go on using bitter melon and testing my bgs regularly. One good thing is the price, at my local grocery store they are 67 cents a pound.

My experience was that bitter melon lowered my blood sugars by 10-20 mg/dl for 1-2 weeks and thereafter had no effect. I used bitter mellon extract pills. Bitter melon raw actually is basically inedible. Bitter melon is almost always served stir fried which I believe you did. It is sometimes served as a desert.

Like with most foods it is all about context. Salt tastes great on your boiled breakfast egg or with most boiled vegetables but you would hardly want to mix it with your cup of coffee or put it on your sweet dessert. The stir fry I mixed it with was seasoned with a spicy Thai stirfry sauce with chili and various others spices, and as such the chopped up bitter melon was far from ‘basically inedible’ in fact it blended in well.
As a general rule I always try to get my nutrients from the actual food source rather than in pill form, though I am aware that the nutrition information that follows with much of the produce we eat can be very misleading. In many cases things like the content of vitamin A or C or iron have not been updated since the original testing was done in the 1950s. Over time as produce growers have placed more and more emphasis on quick growth and durability during long transportation the actual value of the nutrients say in a potato or tomato have diminished to a fraction of what they were in the 1950s. However, knowing that we can compensate by increasing the amount of fruit and veggies we eat, though the trend unfortunately has been the opposite. It used to be a worldwide joke that Americans thought that the ketchup on their hotdog made up one of their daily vegetable servings, but that is no longer a laughing matter.

Interesting, didn’t know about the blood glucose angle to bitter melon. It is not uncommon in Asian dishes and I had it every once in a while growing up. I think it pairs best with something really savory or spicy but is an acquired taste.

They have done a study/trial on it, with varying doses and it does work a bit. It worked about the same as 500mg of metformin.

I’ve been having much better control using bitter melon/gourd, better than Metformin even. i started using Karela Juice in India when i was there in March where i bought it for less than $2! Got home and found it on Amazon when i returned. I’ve been diabetic for many years and this is the best supplement i’ve ever tried. Ive used several other forms of bitter melon w/no results. I mix it in lemonade or my green drink 3-4 times a day and i’m seeing great numbers. I do use another supplement too… Devil’s claw.

Don’t have experience with bitter melon, but have experienced the BG-lowering effect of goji berries, which ARE actually quite palatable. The problem with such “treatments,” however, is the inconsistency in strength of effects and unpredictability of their duration. While I was curious enough to experiment once, adding such items to my diet is not something I am interested in, especially because of the interaction with insulin.

I think in general it’s a bad idea for anyone using insulin and even T2s who might not be should probably consult with an endo or CDE before they try such foods.