Bitter melon, also called bitter apple, bitter gourd or bitter cucumber, is a vine-grown vegetable that can range in color from dark green to white and can grow between three to twelve inches tall. Diabetes Health reports that several compounds in bitter melon may have glucose-lowering properties and they include polypeptide P, vicine, and momordin and charantin, which are glycosides. The juice and pulp can be eaten and an injectable compound made from this vegetable has also been tested. There's no traditional dose established for bitter melon. You should always consult your doctor before using bitter melon as a supplement to help control diabetes.
The easiest way to consume bitter melon is by adding it to a stir-fry. Add several slices to your favorite vegetables and cook quickly over high heat. The taste of bitter melon is very bitter, so you may consider also adding sweeter vegetables such as onions, baby corn or green bell pepper.
Buy bitter melon supplements, which are available in capsule form from Asian grocery stores, health food or natural food stores. Look for 500mg capsules, which should be taken twice a day with meals or as directed on the package.
Monitor your glucose levels closely. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that bitter melon has a significant hypoglycemic effect, but that further studies are needed to verify this.
Bitter melon may also help prevent certain types of cancer, fight infections and lower fever.
Bitter melon may induce menstruation and is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women. Some people suffer from gastrointestinal distress after consuming bitter melon. The red coating around the seeds may cause vomiting.