Ethnopharmacological relevance: Bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.) has been widely used as an traditional medicine treatment for diabetic patients in Asia. In vitro and animal studies suggested its hypoglycemic activity, but limited human studies are available to support its use.
Aim of study: This study was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of three doses of bitter melon compared with metformin.
Materials and methods: This is a 4-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, active-control trial. Patients were randomized into 4 groups to receive bitter melon 500 mg/day, 1,000 mg/day, and 2,000 mg/day or metformin 1,000 mg/day. All patients were followed for 4 weeks.
Results: There was a significant decline in fructosamine at week 4 of the metformin group (-16.8; 95% CI, -31.2, -2.4 μmol/L) and the bitter melon 2,000 mg/day group (-10.2; 95% CI, -19.1, -1.3 μmol/L). Bitter melon 500 and 1,000 mg/day did not significantly decrease fructosamine levels (-3.5; 95% CI -11.7, 4.6 and -10.3; 95% CI -22.7, 2.2 μmol/L, respectively).
Conclusions: Bitter melon had a modest hypoglycemic effect and significantly reduced fructosamine levels from baseline among patients with type 2 diabetes who received 2,000 mg/day. However, the hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon was less than metformin 1,000 mg/day.
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