In the United States, approximately 25.8 million people have diabetes, a condition characterized by abnormally high blood sugar levels, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse reports. If you struggle to control your blood sugar levels, you may benefit from taking a natural treatment called bitter melon. Bitter melon is a type of fruit that has a strong and -- you guessed it -- bitter taste. Insulin-like compounds present in bitter melon, such as vicine, polypeptide-P and charantin, help improve how your body absorbs and metabolizes sugar, which aids in proper blood sugar regulation. Additional human clinical trials are needed to further support the health benefits of bitter melon.
Only your doctor can tell you how much bitter melon you should take to control your diabetes. Your daily dosage of bitter melon may depend on a variety of factors, including your weight, age and health status. Discuss any questions you have about using bitter melon to regulate your blood sugar with your physician before beginning treatment with this natural supplement.
Health professionals with the University of Michigan Health System recommend consuming bitter melon as a food, decoction, fresh juice or tincture. People with diabetes may consume one small melon or drink 2 oz. of fresh bitter melon juice each day. Unfortunately, the taste of bitter melon is quite unpleasant -- you may find that taking the fresh juice as a shot makes the taste more tolerable. Alternatively, you can take 3.3 oz. of a bitter melon decoction daily or 1 tsp. of bitter melon tincture up to three times each day.
Usually, bitter melon is well-tolerated when used appropriately. As a diabetic, taking too much bitter melon may severely lower your blood sugar to hypoglycemic levels. Consequently, you may be at risk of experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, shakiness, fatigue, headache or constant hunger. In addition, consuming too much bitter melon juice may irritate your digestive tract, leading to stomach pain or diarrhea. Seek additional care from your medical provider if stomach pain or diarrhea continues for more than two to three days.
Unpleasant Drug Interactions
People with diabetes who receive drug therapy to control their blood sugar levels shouldn't take bitter melon. Medications of concern include insulin, glipizide, glimepiride and pioglitazone. When used in combination with bitter melon, these treatments may significantly increase your risk of developing hypoglycemia.