Some of the most notable benefits of bitter melon tea include its ability to fight against cancer, prevent chronic disease, lower cholesterol levels, regulate diabetes, stimulate the immune system and help the metabolism, among others. There are a number of side effects to drinking this tea that must be considered, including dangerously low blood sugar, liver complications, severe allergic reactions, decreased fertility, headaches, vomiting and nausea. Most of these side effects can be avoided if you drink the tea in moderation, and speak to your doctor about any potential interactions the tea could cause before drinking it.
What is Bitter Melon Tea?
Bitter melon tea is also known as bitter gourd tea in many parts of the world, but they are the same thing. Scientifically known as Momordica charantia, the bitter gourd plant produces gourds that resembled fat, bumpy cucumbers. They also change color to a yellow-orange when they are ready to be harvested. The tea, unlike many other herbal remedies, is produced by steeping multiple parts of the plant, including the seeds, fruit and leaves. The impressive list of health benefits of bitter melon tea is mainly due to the high concentration of vitamin A, vitamin C and B-family vitamins, potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as the phenolic compounds.
Bitter Melon Tea Benefits
Drinking bitter melon tea is great for people suffering from diabetes, a slow metabolism, high cholesterol levels, a weak immune system, digestive issues, or a high risk of cancer.
With high levels of ascorbic acid, bitter melon tea can be very helpful for stimulating the immune system. Vitamin C can increase the production of white blood cells, and also acts as an antioxidant within the body, suppressing oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
A number of studies have been conducted on bitter melon tea’s effects on cancerous cells. Basically, the compounds found in bitter melon tea can prevent the growth and reproduction of cancer cells, specifically breast cancer cells.
The high antioxidant levels found in bitter melon tea make it ideal for preventing chronic disease, such as coronary heart disease and cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases. As a full body tonic, this tea has a wide variety of applications in human health.
The rich supply of B-family vitamins found in bitter lemon make this tea excellent for stimulating and optimizing the metabolic activities of the body. This can result in more efficient hormonal and metabolic function, including passive fat-burning.
Bitter melon tea has been connected to lower triglyceride levels in the body, which means less harmful deposition of cholesterol in the arteries. This can help to prevent atherosclerosis, as well as coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
One of the main uses of bitter lemon tea is for the regulation of diabetic symptoms. Compounds like vicine and charatin are able to lower blood sugar levels by regulating carbohydrate metabolism. This prevents the spikes and drops in glucose levels that can be so dangerous to diabetic patients. However, if you are taking blood sugar-lowering medication, adding bitter melon tea to your health regimen can be dangerous.
This herbal tea has been traditionally used to treat stomachaches, inflammation in the gut, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. This can also help to optimize digestion and increase nutrient uptake, while eliminating symptoms of constipation and diarrhea.
Detoxify the Body
Although an excess of bitter lemon tea can result in liver damage, in appropriate amounts, it can eliminate inflammation of the liver. This not only keeps the liver functioning well, but can also moderate liver-induced skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
Notable levels of vitamin A mean that this herbal tea is also excellent for improving vision health. Vitamin A is derived from beta-carotene, and acts as an antioxidant that can prevent macular degeneration and slow the development of cataracts.
How to Make Bitter Melon Tea?
Bitter melon tea is quite easy to prepare, and only requires a dried bitter melon (gourd) and hot water, as well as honey to sweeten the flavor, if desired. Most recipes call for dried bitter melon leaves or a dehydrated bitter melon itself, but you can also use a fresh bitter melon, if you have one on hand. The preparation of this tea is quite unique, and can be made with the leaves, seeds and fruit, since there are valuable nutrients in all three. First, chop up the dried/fresh bitter melon and thoroughly wash the slices. Then, you are ready to brew!
- 2 cups of dried (or fresh) bitter melon
- 2 cups of water (filtered)
- Honey or sugar, if desired
Step 1 – Bring the water to a boil in a pot and then add the chopped bitter melon.
Step 2 – Put the lid on the pot and boil for 10 minutes at medium heat.
Step 3 – Remove from heat and allow to steep for an additional 10 minutes (no lid)
Step 4 – Strain the mixture into a teapot or glasses.
Step 5 – Add the honey or sugar, if necessary, and enjoy!
Side Effects of Bitter Melon Tea
The side effects of drinking bitter melon tea include dangerous allergic reactions, liver failure, heart conditions, extremely low blood sugar, and a variety of gastrointestinal effects. While these are rare, they can be quite severe, and depending on your medical history and current prescription medications, it would be wise to speak with a doctor before adding this powerful tea to your daily health regimen.
- Diabetes – The ability of bitter melon tea to lower blood sugar can be good for diabetics, but it can also cause hypoglycemia if you are also taking blood sugar-lowering medication. Diabetic patients should not use this herbal remedy without first consulting their doctor, particularly if they are prescribed a diabetes medication.
- Liver Health – Used over short periods of time, bitter melon tea won’t damage your liver, but extended use can increase liver enzymes, which can then lead to other complications in the body, such as atherosclerosis or inflammation of cardiovascular tissue. If you have pre-existing liver conditions, such as cirrhosis, use of this tea should be monitored very carefully.
- Allergic Reaction – There is a unique enzyme in the body that helps to keep blood cells in the right shape; if you are deficient in this enzyme, you are susceptible to an allergic reaction from a unique compound that is found in bitter melon, called vicine. This comes in the form of a severe allergic reaction, which can potentially be fatal, and is characterized by nausea, vomiting, jaundice, convulsions, coma and even death.
- Pregnancy – The powerful active compounds in bitter melon tea can induce menstruation, which is dangerous if you are pregnant, as this can cause premature labor or miscarriages. It may be safe to take this tea in the final trimester, or as a labor stimulant, but it should be used with extreme caution at any time during pregnancy.
- Inflammation – Some of the other side effects of this tea include inflammatory conditions in the body, such as gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, nausea, cramping, headaches and fever. If you experience any of these side effects, you should discontinue use of this tea.