What is Bitter Melon Extract?

What is Bitter Melon Extract? image by sxc.hu/LeoSynapse/Keith Syvinski
What is Bitter Melon Extract? image by sxc.hu/LeoSynapse/Keith Syvinski


The bitter melon is an ugly and bitter fruit used in some dishes to balance flavors. The bitter melon extract or capsules you may have seen in pharmacies or health food stores has remarkable, although not scientifically proven, health benefits.


Bitter melon extract is the concentrated form of the bitter melon fruit. A bitter melon is a tropical vining plant that is related to both cucumbers and melons. The plant grows primarily in southern Asia, China, Africa and the Caribbean. The fruit has an oblong shape similar to a cucumber but with a very warty skin.


The bitter melon has been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries, although the liquid extract and tablet forms of the melon are a more recent invention. The melon is rarely used in foods other than in Asia, as the taste is very bitter. The fruits are sold in many Asian food stores and are used in stir fries and other dishes. The medicinal uses are much more widespread.

Medical Uses

The primary medicinal use of bitter melon extract is for treatment of diabetes. The extract can cause a lowering of blood sugar levels, although more scientific studies are needed before the treatment becomes mainstream. Other uses include treatments for indigestion and constipation.

Side Effects

Excessive bitter melon consumption in any form can lead to diarrhea and pain in the stomach and abdomen. Eating too many seeds can lead to fever, headache and even coma. Pregnant women and those suffering from low blood sugar or hypoglycemia should not take any form of bitter melon because of its ability to lower blood sugar.

Possible Drug Interactions

Bitter melon extract may interfere with drugs used to treat diabetes. Consult with a doctor before taking this extract to treat any illness or disease.

About this Author

Tracy DeLuca has more than a decade of experience in the business field writing proposals and other business papers. Her professional writing experience includes articles for several online sites since 2008. Her education includes an Associate's degree in legal assisting, a Bachelor's degree in business management and she is currently working towards a Master's degree in business with a concentration on accounting and finance.

Photo by: sxc.hu/LeoSynapse/Keith Syvinski