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Sharing my experience of Bitter Melon.

Discussion in 'Alternative Treatments' started by Oldvatr, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    Hi, I am a T2D of some 8 years, and during that time I have experimented with many supplements. I am not insulin dependant, and control with oral medication only. That said, my research so far indicates that the supplement Bitter Melon is not limited to T2D, and may help those using insulin.

    Most of the supplements i tried had at best a small benefit, and none really justified the ongoing expense. So, back in Feb pf this year, my HBA1c was 99 (mmol/Mol) ans my doctor referred me to the Diabetes Certified Nurse to discuss the introduction of insulin. I requested that instead I could do 'eat to meter'and see if I could reduce my HbA1c before the next checkup. My doctor and the DCN agreed to support self monitoring. We all had a laugh when i said I was worried about hypo's, which at that time seemed to be very remote.

    I used the time to fine tune my meds and set up a test regime that would provide trend analysis and filter out as many variables as I could ( such as test strip batch change, meter variations, meter range non linearity)and also define a controlled daily routine that was repeatable. I altered the time and dosage of my medication until I had a stable baseline set of readings. In July of this year my HBA1c had reduced to 79, and my daily readings seemed to be stable. I was keeping a 2 week running average, and at this time it was running at 11,8 mmol/L which is within 0.6 of my HBA1c plasma equivalent. I now felt I had a reasonable test vehicle to try out different strategies to reduce my bgl averages.

    I am going to end this posting here because it is late and I only wanted to open by showing that I have taken care in establishing a stable platform before launching out with using Bitter Melon, which i will cover in my next post(s). Feel free to join in with your experiences and lets get some discussion going here.
     
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  2. pleinster

    pleinster Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    You have clearly gone to lengths to establish baselines and to increase control of your situation in a way that has produced measurable and reasonable results, which is to be admired, and I am keen to see what effect Bitter Melon Tea in particular may have on my levels, once I get some. I shall certainly check this forum and the ongoing progress. Thanks.
     
  3. Okitsme

    Okitsme Type 2 · Member

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    Indeed you have gone to great lengths to establish a firm Base for your future findings. For me the interest is in how to take the bitter melon and the quantity.
    I live in Thailand and access to all types of bitter melon is cheap and plentiful. Thus far I have taken it blended, juiced and even tried eating it raw (yuk). Has it worked? Well, I don't really know as ive just done it hap hazard, drinking a glass of juice each morning figuring it can't do me harm.
    What I'd like to find are the merits or otherwise of how it's taken, ie are the capsules just as effective, does drying it and making a tea work or is it best digested its raw state.
    Look forward to your future post
     
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  4. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    Hi. I felt it was essential to share with you my test methodology, which i will elaborate on now in this my second post. I test 4 times a day:- A.M. Fasting, Pre-Meal, 2hr PP, and 4hr PP, I use an Excel spreadsheet to log my results, my test conditions, any changes to environment or routine, and my food details.

    In addition, I use 2 meters in parallel, This is important to me since it allows me to determine the delta change in baseline when the strip pak is changed for a new batch. It also verifies that every reading I take is valid since the two meters should track each other. I do plot the errors between the two meters and plot these to remove fixed offset errors, and allow me to also check the linearity of each meter over the range of readings. The two meters I use have a predictable offset of around 1.7 when reading less than 5 mmol/L, rising to around 3 mmol/L at readings between 10-15 mmol/L, and up to 5 mmol.L when the reading is 25 or above. I try to use one meter as my 'decision and reporting meter', and the other as my backup watchdog. But there are times when I run out of strips and I do get gaps where I have to rely on the backup

    I plot all readings over time to show how all 4 readings per day are moving with respect to each other, and I plot trendlines for each.This tells me how a change is affecting the bgl, and what may be causing it, Using this I was able to fine tune my medications and verify stability in my readings, This is very important as we shall see when i describe my Bitter Melon experiences. Most of the time I was playing ;Whack-a-mole' where a change I made pushed one set down, but made one or more of the others rise and the overall average remained virtually unchanged. It is the overall average that i use to base my decisions on since that has most of the day to day noise removed and gives the main trend similar to an HBA1c.

    When all four daily readings trend in the same direction, and the average has a significant change too, then I know I have a result I can use to tighten my bgl control. I am used to seeing these changes, but most are just an 'OK' type. It was never a EUREKA moment until I saw what Bitter Melon did to them which i promise to start recounting in my next posting......
     
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    #4 Oldvatr, Dec 4, 2015 at 10:21 AM
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2015
  5. Juicyjan53

    Juicyjan53 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Good day. Well Oldvatr you sure like a good cliff hanger...! I await the next instalment with baited breath :wideyed:
     
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  6. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    When I started takjng Bitter Melon
    , my HBA1c was 79 which has a plasma equivalent of 12.4mmol/L. My monthly average at the time was 10.5 on my main meter and 13.1 on my backup. There was a 4 mmol/L difference between the 4 daily averages, and 2 were fairly static, one was rising slowly and the other one was rising fast..

    I took Bitter Melon in capsule form. I purchased them over the Internet from one of the World's major internet distributors. They are 400 mg capsules and are made by a reputable brand supplement company, initially I was taking one cap a day at midday. For a weeek I saw no change in my readings and the trendlines did not alter, Then I upped the dose to 2 caps a day.

    For a week or so there was still no noticeable change in the averages. Then suddenly I had a day when all 4 readings dropped significantly and dropped together by the same amount. Where I had been seing daily readings vary between 9 to 13.6, they all four came in the range 4.9 to 7.3. This continued for 4 or 5 days at these sort of low levels (apart from one day which was upset by a really bad meal choice (Chinese take out)) I had not experienced such a change where all 4 reading sets dropped so consistently. My short term average over this period dropped down to 7.9 from the long term average of 10.1 mmol/L
    At that point I took my laptop to see my DCN for my prearranged review. She was as amazed as I was, and agreed to continue supporting my self monitoring and my continued use of Bitter Melon.

    I continued using Bitter Melon for a further week and my weekly average dropped to 5.8., I then discontinued it because i was running out of test strips for my primary meter, and was approaching hypo territory (i.e. some readings were less than 4 mmol/L) i also wanted to stop to see if my readings fell apart, and whether there was a 'memory effect'. Just a word about these hypo's. I had NEVER in the previous 8 years been in a position to have suffered a hypo even though I am on max dose of Gliclazide. My numbers were simply too high for that to happen, I can remember being surprised and happy once to see a 6.8, but I think that is the lowest I had ever seen. Now i am regularly seeing readings in the 4 to 6 range, and on one occasion a 2.1, i started suffering the warning signs for a hypo, and took immediate action. i was also omitting some or all of my evening meds and eating extra carbs if my nightime reading (4hr PP) was below 5,8,.I have not had a hypo where I needed any assistance, It is just a warning that Bitter Melon will enhance the efficacy of any hypoglycemic drugs you may be taking, and seems to have an effect similar to insulin. I do not myself have any evidence that it is a natural analog, or if it is simply squeezing more out of my beta cells. I hope that if there are any T1D that have had good experience with this supplement, that they post their experience here too.

    End of Chapter #3.
     
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  7. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    This is turning into a Labour of Love. Good job i am retired, otherwise it would probably have never been written. As i said in Chapter 3, I had seen a significant effect from taking bitter melon, Another effect i experienced for a short while was intestional discomfort similar to constipation or bloating. I was certainly not constipated, but for a day or so I had these effects.

    When i stopped the supplement there were a couple of days when I continued to have good readings, but then the averages started to rise and the 4 readings started to diverge again. After a week my short term average was up from the 5,8 up to 8.9 and the spread between the readings increased, I was not able to monitor this period very well coz I ran out of teststrips, My backup meter showed a rise from 8.6 to 10.4 during this same period. Thus I believe the memory effect is small. i have read that BM can repair damaged beta cells, but I have no evidence in this trial to say either way. There seemed to be a slight delay.

    I spent the rest of the month testing another supplement (Gymnema Sylvestre) but have to report that the effects (if any) were too small and that I remained at a higher general level. I also started to do LCHF diet, and this invallidated the latter stage of that test period. I was not impressed is all I can say about it. That period ended with an average of 7.7 mmol/L (back on primary meter) but the drop seems to have been due to the diet. I was still getting low readings, but was not omitting meds like I was having to with BM. At the end of this period I had an HBA1c taken and it came back at 53 (8.5 mmol/L plasma) so my primary meter was reading almost 1,0 mmol/L low, and my backup was 1.0 mmol/L high @ 8.5 actual.

    After the HBA1c I started Biter Melon again, same tabs from original batch, and taking 1 cap a day for first week I am also doing
    LCHF. My weekly average during this time dropped from 7,7 to 6,3 BUT I noted a change of strip pak had also shown a 1.0 drop in readings by my Primary meter, so cannot say any of the drop was due to BM. I am currently running with a short term average of 6.9 which was skewed by a regular carb meal last night when I omitted to take any of my meds. However It does seem that the BM has kicked in since I got a string of 11 consecutive readings in the range 6.7 to 8.9 mmol/L before my culinary disaster took me up to 13. The average without the disaster is showing as 6.7.

    Here endeth Chapter #4
     
  8. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    From my experience I can only say that capsules seem to work for me. There are other threads on the forum where people have posted success with the tea. Others post that they have used the raw in food, but I have no personal experience of this. Think you have to find a way of using it that you are comfortable with, is affordable, and easy to use. Otherwise you are unlikely to keep it up.
     
  9. Okitsme

    Okitsme Type 2 · Member

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    The capsules are readily available here in Thailand and are relatively cheap. They would be a far more palatable choice as the taste of the raw juice is not good at all. (why is it everything that aledgedly does you good tastes foul, why can't the miracle cure be chocolate). Very interested in your findings so I'm going to give the capsules a go. Thanks for the time you've given to this, I'm sure it's a benefit to others.
     
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  10. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    Just to provide an update. I am still taking 2 x 500 mg Bitter Melon, and I have just changed to the next bottle of 60. I thought the BM had kicked in when I saw 11 consecutive readings in a much more narrow a range than I was used to, but I was not having hypo levels, and I was not having to suspend or omit any evening meds. This may be changing.

    Last night I had a low reading when I took my pre-meal, so I delayed all my meds until my next reading at 2 hrs after my meal. The meal had a high fat content, but low carb, so when I next tested it was under the 5.6 mmol/L that is my safety level, so I still did not take my meds. My 4 hr PP was 6.2, but I was away from home so again did not take my meds. In the morning my fasting bgl was 9.4, so it is clear that i should have taken some of my meds as clearly I still need them. It is interesting that my post prandials were lower than I am used to getting with that particular meal, which would normally take me up around 13 at 2hr PP even with full meds in the days before BM. This is an effect I did also notice during my first BM trial, but it is too early to draw any conclusions.
     
  11. pleinster

    pleinster Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    So...I ordered some tea and some capsules. The tea arrived today.18 bags for £8.5, which I figured..if effective...at the rate of a cup a day is not so bad really. After accidently ripping the first one in half opening it (a combination of anticipation and sheer stupidity), I brewed up...not too horrible...surprisingly, my BS fell from 6.5 to 4.9 in 35 minutes.:D Now...while I think that is ridiculously quick, it's not mere coincidence (as I know from my own pattern records). Amazing..but it was back up at 5.9 an hour later, so seems short lived. I dunno if regular use would have an impact that lasted longer, but it's at least good to know that I have something to play with. Tomorrow I plan to drink a cup a couple of hours before my expected steroid spike..n see what happens. I am more interested in the effect of the capsules (I ordered 60 for £4.50 or something)....keen to see what happens. I'll keep you posted. Thanks. ;) Paul
     
  12. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    Hi Paul, as I pointed out in Chapter 3 of my post, I find capsules took about 7-10 days before there was a sudden kick in. I have not tried the tea, but I have seen a report from someone using tea who had positive result with it. Having seen my own bs fall by 10mmol/L in an hour after eating, I should warn that was during my BM trial. Be prepared for dramatic change, as your post here seems to reinforce this sudden effect can happen. I note that you may have restarted Gliclazide, and I have found this can give me quite low readings - I drop my glic tabs at night unless I get a high post prandial that needs squashing. Let us know how things progress, and I will post updates too.
     
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  13. pleinster

    pleinster Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I started back on 80mg Gliclazide at 8am a few days ago as i wanted to see if it would help lower the spike I get from the steroid I take at that time now that I am in much better control of my carb intake...see if it is any more effective on this diet. My waking BS is now generally between 5.8 and 6.2 mmols (though this morning was a nice 5.5 for the first time) and my records indicate that the steroid increases my BD from ingestion, rising to a peak around 12.30 to 1.15 pm (where it is currently close to 8.0 mmols). So, once I've posted this, I'm off to have a cup of BM in the hope that it makes a wee dent in that. The Gliclazide alone isn't making too much difference, but if I found that a wee cuppa would keep the spike down to a peak of under 7.0, I'd be delighted. failing that - the capsules should be here soon enough to try.
    I don't sleep till maybe 4am and I wake at 8am and 10am for all my post transplant meds. So - tea time....n then back to sleep for a couple of hours. An odd sleep pattern - I know! I shall test around 1pm. Fingers crossed.
     
  14. Truffle

    Truffle Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Just a small word of warning!
    I bought these pills, Swanson Superior Herbs Momordica Bitter Melon 200mg, 120 Capsules, and started taking them with great anticipation. I did not seem to have any side effects but after about 9 days of taking 1 pill with meals in the morning and the evening I started to feel a horrible fluttering sensation, like palpitations in my throat. It happened intermittently on the first day but by the third I was having these palpitations nearly all day. I asked a friend who is a paramedic and she took my pulse to find that (again intermittently) I was missing a couple of heart beats every minute. We went through everything I had been doing or eating and she looked up the bitter melon pills and found the very rarely they can cause this problem. Drugs.com state "Case reports exist of low blood sugar coma and heart atrial fibrillation associated with bitter melon intake".
    I stopped taking them immediately (yesterday) and today I feel ok - slightly shaky with a headache - but with no palpitations. I would love to do another test to be absolutely sure that this is what caused it but as I have never suffered from anything like it before - and don't want to again - I won't risk it.
     
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  15. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    Thank you for posting this. I had a prescribed statin that seemed to do similar (ectopic heartbeat) and of course, statins are also plant derived. I have not suffered anything like this while taking BM, but now I am aware that this can happen. I did quite a lot of research into BM before I started it, and found only a few minor side effects. I think the info you talk about is as follows (quote from Drugs.com website). This is the only report of atrial fibrillation I could find, and it seems to be a single case..

    Bitter melon generally causes few adverse reactions. GI effects (eg, abdominal pain, diarrhea) and headache have been reported in clinical trials.


    Increases in liver enzymes have been observed experimentally, but without histological changes. Bitter melon should be used with caution in patients with impaired hepatic function.

    Case reports exist of hypoglycemic coma in 2 children from intake of a tea made from the plant. Another case report attributes atrial fibrillation to intake of the crushed melon fruit.

    The red arils around bitter melon seeds are toxic to children. The juice given to a child in 1 report caused vomiting, diarrhea, and eventual death. (Unquote)

    I would point out that this plant extract has been extensively used for the treatment of diabetes for at least 150 years , and I would have thought that such an important side effect would not go unoticed. I have had occasional abdominal pain, but that could be the Metformin (Also a plant extract)

    Also, I tend to suffer from ectopic heartbeat when I have chronic constipation, unconnected to BM.
     
  16. Truffle

    Truffle Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    I also looked into them before buying them and hadn't seen anything to worry about. Unfortunately I cannot find anything other than the Bitter Melon that could have caused it and have certainly never suffered with it before. I also have the tea at home so perhaps in a week or so I might try having 1 cup a day with a meal and see if I suffer again - I would like to think not as I was finding it quite effective.
     
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  17. Truffle

    Truffle Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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  18. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    I appeas that his report is using inforamtion about the atrial fibrillation for
    It would appear that the author found this info on Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Website.
    The drug.com refers to : Erden I, Ordu S, Erden EC, Caglar SO. A case of atrial fibrillation due to Momordica charantia (bitter melon). Ann Saudi Med . 2010;30(1):86-87.
    These two may not related to each other. I have also found the following on a site I use:
    <<It can also interact with some chemotherapy medications as well as paclitaxel and vinblastine.>> and it may be that this is related to the Zhion report. The last info comes from livestrong.com, but has no source reference.

    I was having my ectopics long before my introduction to BM. I went to hospital and had a 48 hr monitor, and several ecg's and the diagnosis is - it happens, live with it, it won't kill you. i later ended up in A&E having a heart attack due to something else, and again i was having ectopics, but when I complained about it, they said it is not connected, and left me to it. As I said, if it is directly caused by BM then it does appear to be rare. At least it is now logged here for others to read.
     
  19. Oldvatr

    Oldvatr Type 2 · Expert

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    I have now found the report that describes the incident of atrial fibrillation, and include a link here:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850191/

    This is a single event described. There are multiple articles referencing this report, but I have not found any other reports describing this adverse effect attributed to Bitter Melon. It seems to be a rare event.
     
  20. pleinster

    pleinster Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    There are going to be possible side effects with anything...including meds we are prescribed (in fact..especially with meds we are prescribed). Still - possible side effects are certainly worth noting..so thanks for posting concerns and responses. BM is new to me....I have been having a cuppa BM a day for over a week now...first cup appeared to cause quite a drop in BS...not much in evidence since (but I think this is down to timing and also it's early days), and I took my first two capsules today (Swansons) before my main meal.. with a nice reading two hours later. No sings of any palpitations of any sort at this point (and I took them two hours after 80mg of Gliclazide...to see the impact on my level with meds...before I try them without meds. I shall certainly watch our for any signs that worry me. I think I will probably take them to supplement meds if successful rather than replace them (as I first considered)..this is because (unless there are other reasons I am missing - well possible) I don't see the point in depending on one thing rather than another (and my Gliclazide is at least free). That said, I shall draw my conclusions after a bit more experimentation.
     
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