9 Amazing Benefits of Bitter Melon Tea

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The most notable benefits of bitter melon tea include its ability to prevent chronic diseases, lower cholesterol levels, regulate diabetes, aid in cancer prevention, stimulate the immune system and help the metabolism, among others.

There are some 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. Before including this beverage in your diet, speak to your doctor about any potential reactions the intake of this tea could lead to.

What is Bitter Melon Tea?

Bitter melon tea is also known as bitter gourd tea in many parts of the world. Scientifically known as Momordica charantia, the 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, 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, slow metabolism, high cholesterol levels, a weak immune system, digestive issues, or a risk of cancer.

Vitamin C

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.

Lowers Cancer Risk

Several studies, including the 2016 paper published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, highlight the anticancer properties of the bitter melon. The tea, made of the fruit and other parts of the vine, is packed with the same advantages.

Compounds found in bitter gourd include cucurbitane type triterpenoids as well as karaviloside III. Both these compounds are said to have exhibited anticancer properties during independent researches. The study also brought to light the potential of karaviloside III to be developed as a chemotherapy agent for the treatment of hepatic fibrosis or carcinoma, and protection against both diseases.

A transparent cup of bitter melon tea with a fresh bitter melon on a wooden table

Chronic Disease

The high antioxidant levels found in bitter melon tea make it ideal for preventing chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, as well as autoimmune diseases. As a full body tonic, this tea has a wide variety of applications in human health.

Metabolic Activity

The rich supply of B-family vitamins found in bitter melon makes this tea excellent for stimulating and optimizing the metabolic activities of the body. This can result in a more efficient hormonal and metabolic function, including passive fat-burning.

Heart Health

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.

Diabetes

One of the main uses of bitter melon tea is for the regulation of diabetic symptoms. Compounds like vicine and charantin 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.

Digestion

This herbal tea has been traditionally used to treat stomach-aches, 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 melon 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.

Vision Health

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), hot water, and 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!

Recipe

Ingredients

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 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. Diabetics should not use this herbal remedy without first consulting their doctor, particularly if they are prescribed as 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, the 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.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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