Momordica (also known as bitter melon, balsam pear, bitter cucumber, or bitter gourd) is a rapidly growing herbaceous vine native to eastern India and southern China and cultivated widely throughout the world. The plant grows well in a variety of soils, and begins flowering about one month after planting. The warty, cucumber-shaped fruit, which varies in length from 12 to 30 centimeters, is typically harvested while immature, before the seeds harden.
Momordica contains bitter principles (which are responsible for the fruit's characteristic flavor), steroids, and a unique, insulin-like polypeptide known as polypeptide P.
Dosage recommendations for momordica vary with the form of the herb used. A common recommendation is 2 ounces of fresh juice or equivalent preparations. Momordica extracts, which are often standardized to provide consistent levels of bitter principles, usually have dosage recommendations printed on the label. Momordica is commonly consumed as a food and has no known toxicity.