Cochrane Summaries

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Momordica charantia for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Ooi C, Yassin Z, Hamid T
Published Online: 
12 December 2013

Mormordica charantia (bitter gourd or bitter melon) is a climbing perennial that is characterized by elongated, warty fruit-like gourds or cucumbers and is native to the tropical belt. Although momordica charantia is commonly used in traditional medical practices, along with research suggesting its benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, the current evidence does not warrant using the plant in treating this disease. This review of trials found only four studies which had an overall low quality. Three trials showed no significant differences between momordica charantia and placebo or antidiabetic drugs (glibenclamide and metformin) in the blood sugar response. The duration of treatment ranged from four weeks to three months, and altogether 479 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus participated. No trial investigated death from any cause, morbidity, health-related quality of life or costs. Adverse effects were mostly moderate, including diarrhoea and abdominal pain. However, reporting of adverse effects was incomplete in the included studies. There are many varieties of preparations of momordica charantia, as well as variations in its use as a vegetable. Further studies are needed to assess the quality of the various momordica charantia preparations as well as to further evaluate its use in the diet of diabetic people.