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

Written by Sindhu Koganti

Bitter gourd (also known as bitter melon) is a vine that has been used as a herbal medicine for centuries. This vegetable is known for its bitter taste, and most people use it to help regulate blood sugar levels.

However, excess consumption of bitter gourd for long periods could lead to adverse health effects. These include miscarriage, drug interactions, liver inflammation, and irregular heart rhythm.

Learn more about these side effects and how to prevent them in this article.

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 gourd in excess amounts. However, there is less scientific research available in this regard. Hence, it is best to consult a doctor.

2. May Interfere With Drugs

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

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 damage the liver. 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

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).

5. May Cause Vomiting And Diarrhea

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

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. 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 (8).

7. May Cause Kidney Problems

Excess consumption of bitter gourd 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 (9). However, more studies are required to understand its effect on humans.

Conclusion

Bitter gourd is extremely beneficial in a lot of ways. It is a healthy addition to your diet. However, excess consumption of bitter gourd may lead to several side effects, like miscarriage, interactions with diabetes medication, and irregular heart rhythm.

More long-term research focused on the adverse effects of bitter gourd is required. Consult a doctor in case you experience any side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we drink bitter gourd juice daily?

Yes. Drinking bitter gourd juice daily is good for 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 helps detoxification of the liver (10). You may drink bitter gourd juice at night.

10 sources

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Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.