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
By Sindhu Koganti, BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

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.

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.

2. May Interfere With Drugs

Woman taking medication

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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

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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

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

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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

Woman vomitting as a side effect of having bitter gourd

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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

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

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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.

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 (10). You may drink bitter gourd juice at night.

Sources

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. Check out our editorial policy for further details.

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Sindhu Koganti is a health and wellness writer with over 5 years of experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in... more

Shivani Sikri

(PG 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... more

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