Bitter gourd has been popularly used as a traditional medicine for various medical conditions from long. It contains numerous vital vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin C, iron, calcium, phosphorous, copper and potassium, which make it the right choice against conditions such as cancer, asthma, skin infections, and stomach problems. However, there still is no scientific evidence that supports the use of bitter gourd for these conditions. Hence, it is important that you be aware of its side-effects, especially if you are a diabetic.
Bitter gourd lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics. Taking medicines for lowering blood sugar and bitter gourd at the same time may lower blood sugar levels too much, leading to complications.
If taken in large amounts, bitter gourds can turn out to be a nightmare during pregnancy. Bitter gourds can cause abortifacient effects and trigger contractions. In addition, it is believed that lactating women should also avoid taking bitter gourds though there is no scientific reason backing up for this.
Taking bitter gourd over an extended period of time for controlling diabetes may increase your risk of developing liver inflammation. The long term usage of bitter gourd tends to elevate liver enzymes leading to atherosclerosis or hardening of arteries.
Hypoglycaemic coma occurs due to excessive doses of injected insulin leading to severe decrease in blood sugar levels. Some case reports suggest that intake of bitter gourds causes onset of hypoglycaemic coma and atrial fibrillation.
Intake of bitter gourd could cause an allergic reaction called favism in people who have an inherited deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenaase, an enzyme required to maintain shape of red blood cells. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, or G-6-PD deficiency can cause favism leading to abdominal pain, back pain, dark urine, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, convulsions and coma.
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