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7 Side-effects of Bitter Gourd

Case reports exist of low blood sugar coma and heart atrial fibrillation associated with bitter melon intake. Bitter melon should be used with caution in patients with impaired liver function. The red arils around bitter melon seeds are toxic to chil

Exercise & Fitness By Ariba Khaliq / Jan 29, 2015

Now You Will Have More Reasons to Hate Bitter Gourds

Sure we hate bitter gourds. Born in the times when taste buds are habituated only to junk and fast foods, it isn’t much of a surprise that such grossly tasting vegetables couldn’t become our favourites. And, this one even has “bitter” in its name, for god’s sake! Your mother, just like my mother, would have advised you innumerable times about the greatness of bitter gourds. And all of us alike didn’t pay any heed. Maybe we were being ignorant. Or maybe we weren’t. Let’s come to the actual point. Bitter gourd, also known as karela or bitter melon, is just like any other food given to us by nature and has its own set of side-effects.

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Can Induce Miscarriage

Bitter gourds, if taken in excessive quantities, can turn out to be a horror for pregnant women. They are infamous for causing emmenagogue (increase of menstrual flow) and abortion-causing effects. Bitter gourds can also trigger contractions. Even lactating women are advised against consuming the vegetable for it may have similar adverse effects on them as they have for pregnant ones. However, this reason lacks scientific evidence.

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Drug Interactions

You might be shocked to know that vegetables like bitter gourd touted for their healing properties, might actually obstruct the desired effects of drugs. Combining bitter gourds with standard drugs can decrease blood sugar levels steeply. This might lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels. Hence, diabetic patients who are under medication are advised to consult their doctors before consuming bitter gourds.

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Can Cause Irregular Heart Rhythm

In 2010, a study published in ‘The Annals of Saudi Medicine’ revealed something new. A 22 year old male without any heart rhythm irregularities developed related symptoms when he drank half a cup of bitter gourd juice before the admission. When the heart rhythm gets irregular, it leads to the pooling of the blood in one side of the heart. This can result in the platelets forming clots in the pool, thereby causing stroke or heart attack.

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Think Again before Feeding Your Children Bitter Gourds

Kids, rejoice! It has been reported that red arils (the covering on the seeds) might be toxic to children. They might cause vomiting and diarrhoea. So if your child is allergic to bitter gourds, don’t discard this as a random statement produced out of thin air; you would want to avoid feeding them the vegetable.

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Hypoglycaemic Coma

Hypoglycaemic coma is a condition of coma which is caused due to excessive doses of injected insulin. This might lead to severe decrease in blood sugar levels. There are case reports which suggest the onset of hypoglycaemic coma and the start of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) with the intake of bitter gourds.

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Might Affect the Liver

Mommies, before discarding the connection between liver and bitter gourd as illogical, please note that evidence exists. Intake of bitter gourds for extended periods of time to control diabetes might actually induce liver inflammation. Bitter gourds don’t directly damage the liver. However, long term use of bitter gourds can elevate liver enzymes and result in a condition called atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

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Glucose-6-phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency

People with G6PD deficiency might develop “favism” after eating bitter melon seeds. Favism is a condition named after the fava bean, which is thought to cause “tired blood” (anaemia), headache, fever, stomach pain, and coma in certain people. A chemical found in bitter melon seeds is related to chemicals in fava beans. If you have G6PD deficiency, avoid bitter melon.

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