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Can Bitter Melon Really Help Type 2 Diabetes?

By March 26, 2008

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A study that appeared in this month's online issue of Chemistry and Biology, has isolated four compounds in bitter melon that activate an enzyme that is responsible for regulating metabolism and transporting glucose from the blood into the cells.

Isolating these compounds could lead to medications that someday could control obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Does this mean that all those claims that tout bitter melon as a cure for diabetes are for real? That may be an exaggeration, but this study does prove that at least there are legitimate compounds in bitter melon that do help move glucose into cells.

Many medications that are used today came from natural substances. Byetta was created after studies of gila monster saliva showed a compound that slowed gastric emptying, and helped regulate glucose levels. That doesn't mean that stalking a gila monster and swiping it's saliva will do the same thing as Byetta.

As far as self-dosing with bitter melon, who can say what a safe amount is? And since supplements are not regulated, how can you be sure that the quality of what you're taking is the best or even that there is any bitter melon in the supplement at all?

Check with your doctor before trying supplements or unproven compounds, even ones that have been on the market for long time, such as bitter melon. And never stop taking prescribed medications without first consulting with your doctor.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Hoshikawa/A.collection/Getty Images

March 27, 2008 at 11:15 pm
(1) isaac says:

There is no disease without treatment told Mohammad,prophete of muslim.
Diabetes has its root in our mind.Auyrveda believes jeleous men affected much more to diabetes.
Bitter melon is just an drop in this manic fire

March 28, 2008 at 1:27 am
(2) Murray says:

Check out the press release from the Garvin Institute on this topic. A TV Report in Australia showed diabetic mice that had been treated with the compound and postulated that human trials were not far away. Hope this is true.

March 28, 2008 at 11:25 am
(3) cat says:

I can’t imagine anybody overdosing on this stuff, have you ever tasted it?! It’s awful!

March 28, 2008 at 6:27 pm
(4) Haque says:

Gastrointerstinal diabetic surgery is a cure for diabetes type 2. This is performed by Dr. Rubino at Weil medical college.

April 2, 2008 at 2:52 am
(5) nkwong says:

My mother liked the dish of Bitter melon & beef, but she only ate the bitter melon. She was a diabetic.

April 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm
(6) erik says:

I am 38 yr old male with adult onset diabetes (type 2), with moderately high level of activity. I have been taking metformin and controlling diet to treat the diabetes with moderate success. Since trying bitter melon supplements in capsule form I have noticed improvements in blood glucose level of about 10-20% and feel better overall. I noticed improvement after about 12 hours.

November 2, 2008 at 4:41 pm
(7) apple says:


How much do you take (bitter melon)?

December 23, 2008 at 8:03 pm
(8) Trying My Best says:

I have implemented bitter melon into my herbal remedies. I am insulin resistance. I take bitter melon in capsule form. I purchased it at a whole food store. I take it 500 mg 2wice a day. I noticed a difference.

July 13, 2009 at 1:05 pm
(9) redsam says:

It’s all well and good that the four active molecules enhance the transport of glucose into cells. But then, what is being left unsaid is what’s going to happen to this newly transported glucose in the cell. There must have been a good reason for the decrease in the number of transporters in the first place. Probably lack of exercise or bad dietary habits such as excessive consumption. As a result, the cells are shutting out un-needed glucose, which then probably accumulates in the blood leading to classic diabetic symptoms. Now then, just by bringing them back artificially is not going to create a (currently non-existent) need for the glucose that is coming in…How does the cell get rid of the calories that are coming with this new glucose?? What happens to the new energy released from this glucose following glycolysis (these are sedentary folks, yes?) Where will the 3- or 2-carbon metabolites go? Do they act as substrates to build extra fats and fatty acids (which can’t be good for one either)?

Lots of unanswered questions..

July 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm
(10) Tom McKenny says:

I keep reading “check with your doctor before taking supplements”. Why should we talk to a doctor who usually looks at you like you’re an alien speaking in an alien language when you mention supplements and then the doctor usually says don’t take it. You people should be referring people to a professional herbalist or nutritional practioner. Doctor!

February 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm
(11) dEEdEE says:

Isaac is an idiot. Try telling my son that he is taking 6 shots a day just because this disease is all in his mind. He is miserable with this and looks for any reason to not have to take his shot. Get educated Isaac

March 13, 2010 at 8:43 am
(12) Khurram says:

I am a Muslim and I can tell that Prophet Muhammad PBUH never said anything like Issac said…. Its a disease like any other disease…
About bitter melon…. I drink a glass full of blended Bitter Melon a tomato and a cucumber juice… Its like a think smoothy…. And my levels are down I am off one medicine and soon will be off the second one… With a healthy life style I am for the first time feel I could fight this.
Let’s hope it works for everyone ..

March 18, 2010 at 2:58 am
(13) Shailja says:

I also personally leave that giving a try on the natural supplements is no harm.I take pills which contain several antidiabetic herbs like pterocarpus marsupum, bitter melon.Earlier i was taking allopathic antidiabetics but after i have started taking these pils, there has been a cut down in the doses of my allopathic medicine as well.

March 18, 2010 at 3:13 am
(14) Shailja says:

I personally believe that there is no harm in trying the natural supplements.I also take natural supplements containing anti-diabetic herbs likePterocarpus marsupium , bitter melon etc.These pills have cut down my doses of allopathic antidiabetic which was before taking these supplements.As these are purely herbal, therefore, no side effects.
I think a point will come when the doses of allopathic medicine will be nil.

March 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm
(15) vince says:

Khurram, interesting smoothie!
what are the portions of each?
a whole tomatoe? size?

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