Bitter melon is a fruit that grows in Asia, South America, East Africa, and the Caribbean. It has been used to ease swelling and lower blood glucose. It can be eaten fresh or cooked. It can also be taken as a pill or powder.


1 to 3 grams once per day

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

  • Diabetes —unlikely to improve symptomsA1-A5
  • Knee Osteoarthritis —may ease pain and improve symptomsB1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to eat bitter melon for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:

  • Bitter melon may lower blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before taking bitter melon.


A. Diabetes

A1. Fuangchan A, Sonthisombat P, et al. Hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon compared with metformin in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Mar 24;134(2):422-428.

A2. Ooi CP, Yassin Z, et al. Momordica charantia for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;15(8):CD007845.

A3. Inayat U Rahman, Khan RU, et al. Lower hypoglycemic but higher antiatherogenic effects of bitter melon than glibenclamide in type 2 diabetic patients. Nutr J. 2015 Jan 26;14:13.

A4. Krawinkel MB, Ludwig C, et al. Bitter gourd reduces elevated fasting plasma glucose levels in an intervention study among prediabetics in Tanzania. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Apr 24;216:1-7.

A5. Cortez-Navarrete M, Martínez-Abundis E, et al. Momordica charantia Administration Improves Insulin Secretion in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Med Food. 2018 Jul;21(7):672-677.

B. Knee Osteoarthritis

B1. Soo May L, Sanip Z, et al. The effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) supplementation in patients with primary knee osteoarthritis: A single-blind, randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018;32:181-186.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC