The leaves and fruit have both been used to make teas and beer or to season soups in the Western world.
At least three different groups of constituents in bitter melon have been reported to have hypoglycemic (blood-sugar lowering) actions of potential benefit in diabetes mellitus. These include a mixture of steroidal saponins known as charantin, insulin-like peptides, and alkaloids. It is still unclear which of these is most effective, or if all three work together. Multiple controlled clinical studies have confirmed the benefit of bitter melon for people with diabetes.
In traditional herbal medicine, bitter melon-and essentially all non-toxic, bitter-tasting herbs-is thought to stimulate digestive function and improve appetite. This has yet to be tested in human studies. Unknown compounds in bitter melon have shown antioxidant effects in test tubes.