Bitter melon is best known as an alternative medicine for diabetes, but it also is a folk remedy for treating high blood pressure. You will find this fruit or its juice in Asian grocery stores and on the Internet. While it’s relatively easy to obtain, as of 2010, bitter melon was not proven scientifically sound for any use, note the experts at Drugs.com. If, however, you are considering trying bitter melon, consult a doctor in advance.
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Scientific evidence is scant about bitter melon’s effectiveness or safety for hypertension or high blood pressure, or other conditions that this fruit is used to treat based on tradition or scientific theory, according to Aetna Intelihealth. Other conditions treated traditionally by bitter melon include high blood-lipid levels, skin infections, tumors, gastrointestinal issues, sinusitis, herpes, high cholesterol and respiratory infections. Bitter melon does have blood sugar-lowering properties, but research on its effectiveness as a diabetes treatment is lacking, according to Drugs.com.
Because no standard doses have been established, It’s difficult to know the accurate amount of bitter melon for high blood pressure -- or any other condition. Also, many different dosages are used in tradition medicine, according to Aetna. As a diabetes treatment, a typical dose is 50 to 100 mL, but as of 2010, no clinical trial had been conducted to substantiate such a dose, notes Drugs.com.
If you decide to try bitter melon as a method of lowering blood pressure, you need to do so under a doctor’s guidance and be aware of the side effects. Bitter melon can trigger hypoglycemia, the condition in which blood sugar that falls too low. It also can lead to vomiting, nausea and anorexia, meaning lack of appetite, according to “The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide,” by George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox. It also poses a risk for spontaneous abortion and birth defects if used during pregnancy, according to Aetna.
Bitter melon interacts with many medicines, according to Grossberg and Fox. It can cause or increase liver damage when taken with certain medicines, including naproxen, acarbose, meloxicam and tramadol. It increases the risk of hypoglycemia when taken with many medications as well. These include insulin, acarbose, glipizide and tolazamide.
You may see bitter melon under the guise of other names as a high blood pressure or diabetes remedy. These include bitter cucumber, cerasee, balsam pear, balsam apple, bitter apple, carilla gourd or carilla cundeamor.
- Drugs.com: Bitter Melon
- Aetna Intelihealth: Bitter Melon
- “The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide”; George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox; 2007
- “Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis”; Activating effect of momordin, extract of bitter melon (Momordica Charantia L.), on the promoter of human PPARdelta; M. Sasa et al.; 2009