British Journal of Nutrition

Review Article

Anti-diabetic and hypoglycaemic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon): a mini review

Lawrence Leunga1 c1, Richard Birtwhistlea1, Jyoti Kotechaa1, Susan Hannaha1 and Sharon Cuthbertsona1

a1 Department of Family Medicine, Centre for Studies in Primary Care, Queen's University, 220 Bagot Street PO Bag 8888, Kingston, ON K7L 5E9, Canada


It has been estimated that up to one-third of patients with diabetes mellitus use some form of complementary and alternative medicine. Momordica charantia (bitter melon) is a popular fruit used for the treatment of diabetes and related conditions amongst the indigenous populations of Asia, South America, India and East Africa. Abundant pre-clinical studies have documented the anti-diabetic and hypoglycaemic effects of M. charantia through various postulated mechanisms. However, clinical trial data with human subjects are limited and flawed by poor study design and low statistical power. The present article reviews the clinical data regarding the anti-diabetic potentials of M. charantia and calls for better-designed clinical trials to further elucidate its possible therapeutic effects.

(Received January 23 2009)

(Revised June 01 2009)

(Accepted August 19 2009)

(Online publication October 13 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Lawrence Leung, fax +1 613 544 9899, email


Abbreviations: FBS, fasting blood sugar; MC, Momordica charantia; PPS, postprandial sugar; T1D, type 1 diabetes; T2D, type 2 diabetes