Last update Oct. 3, 2023

Bitter Cucumber


Very unsafe. Contraindicated. Use of an alternative or cessation of breastfeeding. Read the Commentary.

Plant of the cucurbitaceae family, with an external appearance similar to watermelon. Used in traditional medicine as a laxative, diuretic and antidiabetic, the latter not supported by scientific evidence. (Jafarizadeh 2022)

At the date of the last update we found no published data in relation to lactation.

It has a very narrow therapeutic margin, is a potent purgative due to irritation of the intestinal mucosa and can cause serious adverse effects such as colic, vomiting, diarrhea, hematochezia and nephrosis. (Espinosa 2022, Savaj 2017, Javadzadeh 2013, Rahimi 2012)

Safer alternatives are advisable, be they oral antidiabetics compatible with lactation or laxatives non-irritating to the intestinal mucosa. 


Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Bitter Cucumber is also known as Colocynth. Here it is a list of alternative known names::

Bitter Cucumber in other languages or writings:


Bitter Cucumber belongs to this group or family:


  1. Espinosa J, Lucerna A, Bassett R. A Bitter Experience-A Bitter Apple (Citrullus colocynthis) Ingestion in a Child. Am J Emerg Med. 2022 Oct;60:225.e5-225.e6. Abstract
  2. Jafarizadeh A, Raeisi SA, Ghassab-Abdollahi N, Yarani R, Araj-Khodaei M, Mirghafourvand M. Effect of Citrullus colocynthis on glycemic factors and lipid profile in type II diabetic patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2022 Aug 5;21(2):1785-1795. Abstract
  3. Savaj S, Ghaffari M, Abbasi MA, Azar J. Acute Interstitial Nephritis Induced by Citrullus Colocynthis. Iran J Kidney Dis. 2017 Oct;11(5):385-387. Abstract
  4. Javadzadeh HR, Davoudi A, Davoudi F, Valizadegan G, Goodarzi H, Mahmoodi S, Ghane MR, Faraji M. Citrullus colocynthis as the Cause of Acute Rectorrhagia. Case Rep Emerg Med. 2013;2013:652192. Abstract
  5. Rahimi R, Amin G, Ardekani MR. A review on Citrullus colocynthis Schrad.: from traditional Iranian medicine to modern phytotherapy. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):551-4. Abstract

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