A serious health condition called thrombocytopenia, or low blood-platelet count, could cause internal bleeding and stroke. The causes of low platelets include leukemia, immune system disorders and medication side effects. According to Dr. Serkan Ordu of Duzce University, Turkey, bitter gourd does not decrease platelets. However, bitter gourd does produce other health risks. Consult with your health care provider before using bitter gourd, especially if you have any health conditions.
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Vitamin K, which helps to form a blood-clotting factor called prothrombin, changes the efficiency of blood-thinning medications. Although the bitter gourd pod is an insignificant source of vitamin K, the leaves are a moderate source, with 95 micrograms per 1 cup cooked. In conjunction with blood thinners, an inconsistent dietary intake of vitamin K might cause platelets to stick together and form a clot, a condition called thrombosis. Clots might obstruct blood flow to your abdomen, brain, heart, legs or lungs. If you use a blood thinner and bitter gourd dietary supplements or tea, contact the manufacturer to determine vitamin K content.
Bitter gourd might cause an irregular heart rhythm. A case study published in “The Annals of Saudi Medicine” in 2010 revealed a 22-year-old healthy male without risk factors for heart rhythm irregularities who developed atrial fibrillation related to drinking 1/2 cup of crushed bitter gourd juice prior to admission. An irregular heart rhythm allows blood to pool on one side of the heart. Platelets could form a clot in this pool of blood, resulting in a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, a clot lodged in the lungs.
A serious health condition that causes rupture of red blood cells, or hemolytic anemia, results from a deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme necessary to process a chemical in bitter gourd called vicine. Other signs and symptoms of this condition include headache, fever, stomach pains, kidney damage and coma. Deficiency of this enzyme is prevalent in the Mediterranean, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern lineage.
Type 2 Diabetes
Bitter gourd, also known as bitter cucumber and balsam pear, produces a modest decrease in blood glucose levels. However, using bitter gourd with a medication to lower blood glucose could result in severely decreased blood glucose levels, or hypoglycemia with coma. An adjustment in your medication might be necessary.
Reproduction and Pregnancy
Using bitter gourd might decrease your chances of conception, although this has not been confirmed in humans. Male dogs fed bitter gourd extract stopped producing sperm, and mice fed bitter gourd juice had fertility rates drop by 70 percent, according to a review published in February 2003 in the "American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy."
Two proteins in bitter gourd, called alpha and beta monorcharins, can cause uterine contractions during pregnancy, resulting in miscarriages. Avoid bitter gourd during pregnancy.