Bitter melon therapy: an experimental treatment of HIV infection

AIDS Asia. 1995 Jul-Aug;2(4):6-7.


PIP: People in Asia often use a medicinal plant, bitter melon (Mamordica charantia), to treat various diseases (e.g., malaria). It has anti-viral, anti-tumor, and immune system boosting properties. Some Asians, especially Filipinos, eat bitter melon. They believe that bitter melon cleanses the blood and boosts the immune system. Rural Filipino midwives place a strong bitter melon extract in a newborn's mouth to activate the immune system. An HIV-infected man in California uses bitter melon therapy. Bitter melon therapy can be prepared by extracting juices from fresh leaves and fruits and adding purified water to the extract to control the potency. Another preparation involves bringing two pounds of leaves and fruits in a gallon of purified water to a boil, allowing it to simmer for five minutes, filtering the decoction in a sterile strainer, and storing it in the refrigerator. The therapy can be administered either orally or via the rectum. The HIV-infected California man drank 10 ounces of the juices or a combination of juices and decoction each day for five days a week during the first year. He then switched to rectal retention enema due to the bad taste. He increased the dosage to 16 ounces/day and the duration to seven days a week. He held an inserted enema bag or rectal syringe until the juices/decoction had been absorbed. Sometimes he would infuse most of the therapy two times a day. Within seven days of rectal retention enema delivery of the bitter melon therapy, his energy level increased rapidly and his physical stamina and appetite improved. One year after therapy began, his CD4 count increased greatly. Later, his CD4/CD8 ratios had returned to normal. He no longer experiences acute sinusitis or recurrent respiratory infections. He has had no serious side effects.

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Asia
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Biology
  • California
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Disease
  • HIV Infections*
  • Health
  • Health Services
  • Immunity*
  • Medicine
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • North America
  • Philippines
  • Physiology
  • Therapeutics*
  • United States
  • Virus Diseases