What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Bitter Gourd?

Besides its unappetizing taste, there are many reasons why overeating this gourd is bad for you.

Reviewed by Shivani Sikri, Functional Nutrition Expert Shivani Sikri Shivani SikriFunctional Nutrition Expert facebook_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
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Several side effects of bitter gourd will make you think twice about consuming it. Bitter gourd is a vine that is also known as bitter melon. It is one of the oldest herbal medicines, and most people use this vegetable to combat high blood sugar levels.

However, long-term consumption of bitter gourd can have negative health effects. For example, excessive consumption of bitter gourd is associated with miscarriage, liver inflammation, and irregular heartbeat.

This article examines the side effects of bitter gourd, its safety, and any potential drug interactions. Read on.

protip_icon Know The Flip Side: Bitter Gourd

Short-Term Effects
Vomiting and diarrhea.

Long-Term Effects
May cause harm to a growing fetus, increase the chances of a miscarriage, and lead to atherosclerosis and heart arrhythmia.

Drug Interactions
May interact with anti-diabetic drugs and lower blood glucose levels.

When To See A Doctor
If you experience irregular heart rate, severe vomiting, diarrhea, or severe hypoglycemia, it is time to see a doctor.

Side Effects Of Bitter Gourd

1. May Stimulate Miscarriage

Bitter gourd may have emmenagogue (an increase of menstrual flow) and abortifacient effects if taken in excess (1).

It may also trigger contractions. Lactating women are not recommended to take bitter gourds in excess amounts. However, there is less scientific research available in this regard. Hence, it is best to consult a doctor.

protip_icon Quick Tip
The supplements made from the seeds and extracts of bitter gourd possess developmental toxicity and may cause damage to the developing fetus (13).

2. May Interfere With Drugs

Woman taking medication
Image: Shutterstock

Combining bitter gourd with standard drugs may lower blood sugar levels way too much. This may lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels (2).

Individuals with diabetes, who are under medication, should consult their doctors before consuming bitter gourd.

3. May Affect The Liver

Woman experiencing liver problems as a side effect of having bitter gourd
Image: Shutterstock

The intake of bitter gourd for extended periods may lead to liver inflammation. This could be attributed to certain compounds in the vegetable, called monorcharins. Excess intake of the gourd had caused liver issues in rats (3).

Bitter gourd doesn’t directly cause liver damage. However, long-term use of bitter gourd may elevate liver enzymes and result in a condition called atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) (4). However, limited research is available to prove this claim.

4. May Cause Irregular Heart Rhythm

Woman experiencing irregular heart rhythm as a side effect of having bitter gourd
Image: Shutterstock

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 a stroke or heart attack (5).

In a study, a 22-year-old male without any heart rhythm irregularities developed related symptoms when he drank half a cup of bitter gourd juice (6).

Overconsumption of bitter gourd may lead to low blood pressure and cause palpitations and weakness (6), (7).

5. May Cause Vomiting And Diarrhea

Woman vomitting as a side effect of having bitter gourd
Image: Shutterstock

Bitter gourd may cause vomiting and diarrhea due to its toxicity. Bitter gourd contains tetracyclic triterpenoid compounds known as cucurbitacins, which are toxic and may cause nausea and abdominal pain (7). In mice studies, excess consumption of the bitter gourd in the juice form was found to lead to toxicity (8).

6. May Cause Hypoglycemic Coma

Hypoglycemic coma is a form of coma caused due to excessive doses of injected insulin. This might lead to a severe decrease in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar levels may cause numbness, tingling, seizures, headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, and tiredness (9).

There are case reports that suggest the onset of hypoglycemic coma and the start of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) with the intake of bitter gourd (10).

protip_icon Trivia
Avoid using mature bitter gourds because the more mature the bitter gourd, the more bitter it is.

7. May Cause Kidney Problems

Woman experiencing kidney problems as a side effect of having bitter gourd
Image: Shutterstock

Excess consumption of bitter gourd, though might not cause kidney damage, may alter kidney functions. Mice studies show that the administration of bitter melon up to 4000 mg/kg is considered to be safe, and it didn’t show any effect on mice kidney function. Intake of excess bitter gourd (more than the recommended dosage) may cause kidney problems (11). However, more studies are required to understand its effect on humans.

The bitter gourd may also have allergic reactions in some people, although much research is needed in this regard.

Infographic: Most Serious Side Effects Of Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourds are one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your diet. However, they can also cause some side effects if consumed in excess. We focus on the most serious ones in the infographic below.

most serious sideeffects of bitter gourd (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Side effects of bitter gourd may result from its excess intake for prolonged periods. One of the major side effects of bitter gourd is miscarriage. It may also interact with certain drugs and lower blood sugar levels way too much. In addition, the monorcharins in bitter gourd may trigger liver inflammation. The veggie may also cause irregular heart rhythm, vomiting, diarrhea, and in rare cases, kidney issues and hypoglycemic coma. Hence, long-term excess consumption should be avoided. But do include this vegetable in moderate amounts to reap its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we drink bitter gourd juice daily?

Yes. Drinking bitter gourd juice daily is good for your health. However, people with diabetes should consult a doctor before consumption.

Can I drink bitter gourd juice at night?

The antioxidant properties of the bitter gourd flush out all toxins from the body and help in the detoxification of the liver (12). You may drink bitter gourd juice at night.

Does bitter gourd increase blood pressure?

No. Animal studies found that bitter gourd could help reduce blood pressure. It contains leptin which increases antioxidant and nitric oxide efficiency and lowers blood pressure (13).

Does bitter gourd reduce high cholesterol?

Yes, bitter gourd helps in lowering bad cholesterol and maintains good cholesterol, and improves heart health (14).

What should we not eat with bitter gourd?

Avoid consuming radishes with bitter gourd as it may cause acidity and phlegm. Also, avoid drinking milk after consuming bitter gourd as it may cause stomach-related problems.

Can we eat bitter gourd and egg together?

Yes, you may consume bitter gourd with eggs. You may eat scrambled eggs with bitter gourd juice, soup, and fry.

Who should not drink bitter gourd juice?

People with Glucose 6- phosphate deficiency (G6PD) should avoid drinking bitter gourd juice, as it may cause severe anemia. Also, bitter gourd juice is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitter gourd may interfere with the body’s normal blood sugar levels, causing them to decrease to a dangerously low level.
  • It contains some toxic contents that may lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Bitter gourd may cause some ill effects on the kidney if consumed in large quantities.
  • Bitter gourd has the potential of causing miscarriage in pregnant women.
side effects of bitter gourd

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Uncover the potential side effects of consuming too much bitter gourd juice. Watch this informative video to learn about the precautions and potential risks associated with its excessive consumption.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Forbidden Foods for Healthy Pregnancy, International Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews, ResearchGate.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328513110_Forbidden_Foods_for_Healthy_Pregnancy
  2. Interactions between antidiabetic drugs and herbs: an overview of mechanisms of action and clinical implications, Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5527439/
  3. The study of hepatotoxicity effect of Momordica charantia on rat’s liver, Biochemistry and Analytical Biochemistry.
    https://www.walshmedicalmedia.com/proceedings/the-study-of-hepatotoxicity-effect-of-momordica-charantia-on-rat-s-liver-33858.html
  4. Lipid lowering effects of Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon) in HIV-1-protease inhibitor-treated human hepatoma cells, HepG2, British Journal of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1752016/
  5. Atrial fibrillation, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK464171/
  6. A case of atrial fibrillation due to Momordica charantia (bitter melon), Annals of Saudi Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850191/
  7. Gastrointestinal toxicity due to bitter bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria)─a report of 15 cases Indian Journal of Gastroenterology Research Gate
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51706455_Gastrointestinal_toxicity_due_to_bitter_bottle_gourd_Lagenaria_sicerariaa_report_of_15_cases
  8. Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) juice poisoning World Journal of Emergency Medicine US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4677076/
  9. Hypoglycemia: The neglected complication PubMed ResearchGate
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257251455_Hypoglycemia_The_neglected_complication
  10. Bitter Melon (Momordica Charantia): A Review of Efficacy and Safety American-Journal of Health-System Pharmacy US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12625217
  11. Impact of Momordica Charantia Extract on Kidney Function and Structure in Mice Journal of Nephropathology US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24644542
  12. Protective effect of Momordica charantia water extract against liver injury in restraint-stressed mice and the underlying mechanism Food and Nutrition Research US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510204/
  13. Effect of Momordica charantia fruit extract on vascular complication in type 1 diabetic rats EXCLI Journal US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553902/
  14. Effect of Bitter Melon Extracts on Lipid Levels in Japanese Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Study Evid Based Complement Alternat Med Journal US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6250023/
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Shivani Sikri
Shivani SikriPG Diploma in Dietetics & Public Health Nutrition
Shivani Sikri is the founder and chief nutritionist at Nutri4Verve and has more than 10 years of experience. She recommends a well-balanced, holistic lifestyle modification approach, based on combinations, metabolism, and genetic and medical requirements of her clients.

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Sindhu Koganti
Sindhu KogantiSenior Health & Wellness Writer
Sindhu Koganti is a Certified Health and Nutrition Life Coach and has over 6 years of experience in writing on health and wellness topics. She has a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, and a diploma in nutrition from Fab Academy.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Ravi Teja TadimallaSenior Editor
Ravi Teja Tadimalla is a senior editor and a published author. He has been in the digital media field for over eight years. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University.

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Aparna Mallampalli
Aparna MallampalliHealth & Wellness Writer
Aparna is a professor-turned-content writer with over 5 years of experience in life sciences. Her passion for writing and interest in the healthcare and wellness industry pushed her toward a career in content writing. She has a master’s degree in microbiology from Osmania University, Hyderabad, and a diploma in nutrition from Fab Academy.

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