6 Side Effects Of Bitter Gourd August 4, 2016

We all know why we hate bitter gourds, also known as ‘karela‘ in Hindi. Born in an era whose taste buds are habituated only to junk and fast foods, it isn’t much of a surprise that such grossly tasting veggies couldn’t become our favourites.

Your mother, just like my mother, would have advised you umpteen times about the greatness of bitter gourds. And you, just like I, wouldn’t have paid any heed.

Maybe we were being ignorant.

Or maybe we weren’t.

Now I will come to the actual point. Bitter gourd, also known as karela or bitter melon, is just like any other food given to us by nature and has its own set of side effects.

Want to know what are the side effects of bitter gourd? I bet you do.

1. Can Stimulate Miscarriage:

Bitter gourds, if taken in excessive quantities can turn out to be a nightmare for pregnant women. Bitter gourds are notorious for causing emmenagogue (increase of menstrual flow) and abortifacient effects. (1)

Bitter gourds can also trigger contractions. And for lactating women, it is best to avoid bitter gourd. This is because though there isn’t any scientific backing which says bitter gourds are bad for lactating women, its adverse effects on pregnant women might have similar effects on lactating women.

2. Drug Interactions:

It is actually shocking to know vegetables like bitter gourd which are known for their healing properties, might even come in the way of drugs. But this is the fact. Combining bitter gourds with standard drugs can reduce blood sugar levels steeply. This might possibly lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels. (2)

Hence diabetic patients who are under medication should consult their doctors before consuming bitter gourds.

[ Read: Benefits And Uses Of Bitter Melon/Bitter Gourd For Health ]

3. Can Cause Irregular Heart Rhythm:

In 2010, a study published in ‘The Annals of Saudi Medicine’ revealed something new. A 22 year old male without any heart rhythm irregularities developed related symptoms when he drank half a cup of bitter gourd juice before the admission. (3)

When the heart rhythm gets irregular, it leads to the pooling of the blood in one side of the heart. This can result in the platelets forming clots in the pool, thereby causing stroke or heart attack.

4. Bitter Gourds For Your Children? Think Again:

This might come as good news for your kids. But this is not a random statement produced out of thin air. It has been reported that red arils (the covering on the seeds) might be toxic to children. They might cause vomiting and diarrhoea. (4)

So if your child is allergic to bitter gourds, it is better to avoid giving them the vegetable.

5. Hypoglycaemic Coma:

Hypoglycaemic coma is a condition of coma which is caused due to excessive doses of injected insulin. This might lead to severe decrease in blood sugar levels. There are case reports which suggest the onset of hypoglycaemic coma and the start of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) with the intake of bitter gourds. (5)

[ Read: Bitter Gourd Juice For Diabetes ]

6. Might Affect The Liver:

You might wonder what the connection is between liver and bitter gourd. Though this might appear a bit illogical, evidence exists. Intake of bitter gourds for extended periods of time to control diabetes might actually induce liver inflammation.

Bitter gourds don’t directly damage the liver. Long term use of bitter gourds can elevate liver enzymes and result in a condition called atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). (6)

Some of the points, or maybe all of these side effects of bitter gourd sound new and unbelievable to you. It’s natural. Though it is extremely beneficial in a lot of ways, its over consumption can lead to complications.

So the next time your mother asks you to eat bitter gourds, don’t show her this post and justify your hatred for the vegetable. Eat it instead. Because moderate consumption of anything is not going to be harmful!

Hope you liked this article highlighting the bitter gourd/karela side effects! Don’t forget to share your experience in the comment section given below:

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  • Michael Kavyn Sun

    Reference please?
    0ne reference is n0t better than lots of researches for this so-called diet must-have
    vegetable..can’t believe this..

  • Cil Carranza

    bitter gourd is not really good for children having this G6PD defficiency, really very bad effect based on experience, and if you are pregnant here in our community, people always telling you to avoid eating any bitter tasting fruit or veggies like the bitter gourd because this might affect your baby.

  • Vim

    this article has some facts.. but there are foods that are really contraindicated to be eaten because of a certain condition,.. it doesn’t mean a food is no longer healthy to be eaten. ^^

  • Anonymous

    since 60 years i included bitterguard in my meals,all the veggies present pesticides,pls.wash properly and use,everything comes in the market is meant for business,not for health tips,if u say so i have to fast unto death.100% no veggies are fit for human consumption.


    i am diebetic i want to increase my weight what can i do ?

  • kareem

    Dr. Abdul Kareem, a medical practitioner and naturalistic physician in Mukkam used to say that Bitter guard is not recommended as an edible veggie good for all.

  • Anonymous

    Make a meal plan. Low Glycemic and high fiber food. Less carb meals, more veg and eat in big portions. When you drink fruit juice, drink 2- 3 liters a day. when u eat veg or salad, eat in big plates of those. dont make it as side dish.but as main dish. by then u forget the hunger and cravings for all sweets and carbs, thus making u gain weight. – my husband is Vegetarian and was diagnosed with high sugar. we fought it together. PRaise God he is well now.

  • savitriayapilla

    tahk u for this information.very useful to us.

  • Anonymous

    Information is quite amazing. Bitter guard was thought to be good veggie with long shelf life .After reading the article one must think before using it.

  • Anonymous

    Useful information liked it

  • Pia Promina DasGupta Barve

    A Bengali eats a bitter vegetable every day especially in the summer months. Karela and ucche are the easiest to come by. However the quantities consumed are not large. It is a starter to a meal. Yes we protested as we did not want to eat anything bitter but trust me, it keeps you in fine fettle. excess is not advocated and neither is juice.


    Ayurveda says bitter gourd is good for health. Medical facts above mentioned are saying different. Ayurveda says bitter gourd is good
    for stomach and works as antibiotic against unseen bacteria and it
    works as safeguard for intestine. As above article says excess intake
    of any vegetable,fruit or medicine will be always leads to a side effects. I suggest follow the Ayurveda and use the bitter gourd as per
    instructions of Ayurvedic doctor.
    if we have it once in a month its very useful for our body.