What Are the Medical Uses of Bitter Cucumber?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 28 February 2020
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Bitter cucumber is a plant that produces a unique fruit used to treat many different kinds of diseases and infections, including leprosy, piles, diabetes, and cancer. The fruit has also been linked in some studies to effective treatment of HIV. Additionally, in some areas of the world, it has been used to promote infertility in women who do not wish to become pregnant.

The fruit of the bitter cucumber is generally used while it is unripe and green, whether it is intended for medical purposes or not. Once it ripens, it has been found to lose most of its medicinal qualities, and is too bitter and tough to eat. Generally, the fruit is oblong with a bumpy exterior, and has yellow flowers and contains seeds that can also be used in herbal remedies. While this type of plant appears to have many of the same physical characteristics of a cucumber or a gourd, it is a unique plant in and of itself.

This bitter-tasting fruit is called by many names all over the world, including bitter melon, bitter gourd, balsam pear, and balsam apple. Many cultures utilize the bitter cucumber in home and folk remedies. In areas like Africa, China, India, and some parts of the United States, this fruit has become a popular and traditional way to treat some illnesses.


There are several different types of diseases that bitter cucumber is thought to treat. This fruit contains a polypeptide that has been shown to act like bovine insulin, regulating and controlling an individual’s blood sugar. As a result, the bitter cucumber has been found to greatly improve diabetes, especially adult onset diabetes. Those with low blood sugar, however, are advised not to use this fruit because it may result in even lower blood sugar counts.

Bitter cucumber has also been thought to improve the health of patients suffering from other illnesses, including some types of cancers, small-pox, chicken pox, and gout. Certain skin conditions like psoriasis, scabies, and fungal infections may improve with the use of bitter cucumber as well. The fruit contains several vitamins and iron, so it may also help those who are suffering from night blindness, anemia, and hypertension.

In China, and in other areas of the world, the bitter cucumber has been used as a contraceptive. Women who are already pregnant should be advised that using this fruit for medicinal purposes while they are pregnant can result in unexpected abortions and bleeding of the uterus. It may also cause a woman to go into premature labor.


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