Bitter Apple is a desert vine plant that is native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia. It resembles the vine of watermelon, but bears small, hard fruit that is extremely bitter in taste. It’s seeds are edible and good sources of fat and protein, but bitter and nutty in flavour. The ground seeds have been used by desert tribes to make bread since centuries.
Traditionally, bitter apple has been used in medicine for managing diabetes, high cholesterol levels, constipation, tuberculosis and for treatment of liver and gall bladder ailments. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating piles, relieving constipation, treating ascites, improving digestion and preventing urinary disorders. It is even believed to balance doshas. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of colocynth since 1991. Studies report that colocynth taken even in minuscule amounts can cause severe irritation in the lining of the stomach and intestines, damage to the kidneys, convulsions as well as paralysis. Needless to say, it is unsafe in pregnancy as it can cause contractions in the uterus and may lead to abortion. It is best to avoid foods made using bitter apple or medicines and supplements of bitter apple during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor about herbs safe to use during pregnancy.