The Effectiveness and Safety of Bitter Melon in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Orjinta Amarachi Jane-Frances, Tongai F. Chichaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a highly prevalent metabolic disorder that imposes a significant disease and socioeconomic burden on society. As a result, many patients resort to using traditional herbal-medicines (THMs), which are relatively inexpensive and easily accessible compared to the conventional oral-antidiabetic drugs (OADs). Bitter melon (BM) is one of the extensively used THMs for managing T2DM. However, there is lack of synthesised evidence on its effectiveness and safety. This paper aimed to synthesise evidence on the effectiveness and safety of BM in T2DM management and compare the outcomes of using BM to conventional medicine in the management of T2DM.Materials and Methods: A review of literature was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. Databases, including MEDLINE, CINAHL, SCOPUS, and Cochrane Library were searched for evidence. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on glycaemic-control, in which mono-herbal preparations of BM were administered as interventions to T2DM patients, compared against placebo or active control-groups, with or without the use of OADs, were included. The outcome-measures synthesized include the parameters of glycaemic-control, namely fasting and postprandial-plasma glucose, glycated haemoglobin-A1C, and safety-indicators.Results: Nine RCTs were reviewed. The different BM-interventions showed promising efficacy in glycaemic-control and appeared to be generally well-tolerated, with no-significant adverse-effects or mortality identified.Conclusions: Although BM-interventions appeared to be well-tolerated and promising, there is a need for a standardized formulation. This study endorses the need for more rigorous supplementary trials with adequate methodological features and consistent formulations of BM-interventions before its effectiveness and safety can be optimally established.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
JournalIntegrative and Complementary Therapies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2023


  • anti-diabetes medicine
  • bitter melon
  • diabetes mellitus
  • herbal medicine


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