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Snake Gourd – Trichosanthes Cucumerina

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Snake gourd helps in the treatment of a variety of ailments such as fever, low immunity, diabetes, general debility, frequent urination, hair loss, obesity and skin diseases.

What is Snake Gourd?

Snake gourd is a wild vegetable found India, some parts of Asia including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but its native place is northern region of Australia. Now, it is also cultivated in some countries due to its uses as vegetable and in certain traditional medicines.

Snake gourd is a vine having relation to Cucurbitaceae family. The long fruits of the plant are used as vegetable and medicinal purposes.

The taste of snake gourd is similar to the bitter melon (having bitter taste). The taste of cooked snake gourd is not yet bitter, so you can eat the cooked snake gourd.

Common Names of snake gourd

  1. Trichosanthes cucumerina (Botanical Name)
  2. Chichinga/Chichinda
  3. Serpent gourd
  4. Padwal/Padval
  5. Snake Tomato
  6. Snake squash
  7. Snake gourd vegetable

Bioactive Constituents of snake gourd

Fruit and roots of the snake gourd plant contains bryonolic acid, bryononic acid, dihydrocucurbitacin B, chondrillasteryl glucoside and cucurbitacin B.

All these active constituents show antiviral characteristics and anti-malarial activity.

Health Benefits of Snake gourd

According to folk medicine expert, snake gourd has anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, and mild analgesic characteristics. Due to these medicinal properties, it can be used in a number of diseases that affect human beings. It helps in arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia, mood swings, heart diseases and diabetes. It also possesses digestive stimulant property, so it is also beneficial for correcting digestive problems. Some of important benefits of snake gourd are listed below:

Diabetes

Snake gourd is an excellent food choice for the patients with diabetes mellitus. It helps reducing blood sugar level by acting on insulin resistance. It increases the insulin efficiency that helps in reduction of elevated levels of blood sugar. In folk medicines and Chinese traditional medicine, snake gourd roots are used in anti-diabetic medicines. [1]

According to one study, snake gourd oil has properties of anti-diabetes and anti-inflammatory, so it acts to reduce the underling inflammation of the pancreas and stimulate insulin production from the pancreatic cells. [2]

Ayurvedic dieticians include snake gourd along with bitter gourd, radish, ash gourd, Green cucumber, ridge gourd, yellow pumpkin seeds, fluted pumpkin, great pumpkin, ivy gourd, carrot, banana stem, Chayote, etc. in anti-diabetic diet.

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In addition to these, snake gourd is low in calorie and high in many nutrients, which can helps in diabetes. Experiments revealed that water extract of snake gourd reduces fasting blood glucose level by 35%. No hypoglycemic effects are observed with the regular use of snake gourd. [3, 4]

Snake gourd flowers and leaves are also used in diabetes mellitus, but the effects of these are not yet properly studied.

Lowers blood pressure & Cholesterol

Snake gourd is cholesterol free food and helps in lowering extra circulating cholesterol in the blood. Sometimes, elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are responsible for the raised blood pressure. Snake gourds help to lower the blood pressure by reducing the cholesterol and cleansing the blood vessels.

Snake gourd is also rich in potassium and low in sodium, so it is a favorite diet for the heart.

Heart Palpitations

Snake gourd possesses anti-stress characteristics. Due to this characteristic, it helps in racing pulse and increased heartbeat. It reduces the stress in the brain and calms the nervous system, so it is one of the beneficial vegetable for the heart palpitation if cause is hyperactive mind. Snake gourd also acts cardio-protective agent. [5]

Liver disorders

Snake gourd is effective in jaundice, fever due to liver diseases and viral infections (hepatitis A, B and C). In ayurveda, it is used along with coriander seeds. The decoction is prepared from the leaves of snake gourd and coriander seeds. This decoction in amount of 10 ml twice a day is very useful to reduce elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. The study on the Tricosanthes cucumerina plant extract suggests its hepato-protective action. [6]

Constipation & flatulence

The fiber content of the snake gourd helps in maintaining the health of the alimentary canal and keeps digestive system healthy. Fiber rich foods help to remove constipation and also reduces flatulence.

Acidity & Gastritis

Snake gourd reduces the acid production and helps in gastritis, peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer, GERD, food addiction and acidity. It reduces symptoms of burning sensation, heartburn and acid reflux. This gastro-protective action is observed in one study conducted on snake gourd use in gastric diseases. [7]

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Anti-inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory effect of snake gourd is confirmed in one study in which researchers have observed its efficacy comparable to steroid drug Predinisolone and lbuprofen. [8]

Enhance immunity and fight against infections

The leaves of snake gourd plant have antibacterial properties. The studies on extract of snake gourd plant revealed its efficacy on pathogens such as S paratyphi, S aureus, P vulgaris, B cereus, P aeruginosa, E faecalis, K pneumonia etc. The external application of the leaves acts as an antiseptic. [9]

Snake gourd seed works as antioxidants

The potent antioxidant action appears when seeds of snake gourd are used. The experiment has confirmed the findings on anti-oxidant effect of snake gourd seeds. [10]

Anti-Prostate Cancer

The bio-constituents of snake gourd help to fight against prostate cancer. These bio chemicals delay the progression of cancerous tissue.  This effect is demonstrated in a recent study. [11]

It is also effective in colon cancer. It has mild anti- proliferative effects. [12]

Snake gourd is beneficial in Hair fall

The use of snake gourd helps in promoting growth of the hair follicles and hairs on the scalp, a recent study reveals this fact. Snake gourd has a potent action to promote hair growth and eliminate hair fall. [13]

Worm infestation

Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina) has anthelmintic property. It means it can destroy and expel parasitic worms from the intestines. [14]

Kidney failure

Snake gourd extracts possess the capacity to generate urine from the kidneys and can help patients with renal failure. Its diuretic action is compared with furosemide in one study. [15]

Diabetic nephropathy

The extract of snake gourd is effective in diabetic nephropathy. It prevents the development of nephropathy in diabetic patients. [16]

Enhance wound healing

Seeds of snake gourd enhance wound healing when seed’s paste used tropically on the wounds. [17]

Helps in arthritis

Snake gourd possesses anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions, so it helps in arthritic pain. It also helps by scavenging free radicals from the body and prevents further damage to the bones and joints. [18]

Fever

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Snake gourd is also used in fever reduction in some folk medicines. It may works as acetaminophen, but acetaminophen has side effects and can cause liver toxicity. Therefore, use of the snake gourd extract is safer than acetaminophen. [19]

Anorexia

Snake gourd corrects the digestive system by balancing acid production. Sometimes, the most of people complain anorexia or loss of appetite due to excess acid production in the gut. Snake gourd helps in reducing and balancing acid secretion.

Bowel problem in children

Some children complain about the constipation and irregular bowel movements. However, in these cases, parent should concentrate on fiber rich diet such as fruits, vegetables and salads. Snake gourd helps in this case due to its fiber content and milk laxative action.

Skin Diseases

Snake gourd is used in ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of various skin diseases.

General weakness

Snake gourds are helpful in weakness after the fever. It also increases appetite by balancing acid production and bile secretion from the liver.

Productive cough and wheezing

Snake gourd has expectorant properties, so it helps to remove excess phlegm from the respiratory tract and lungs. It eases in breathing in asthma and reduces mucus in productive cough.

Body detoxifier

Snake gourd (trichosanthes cucumerina) can detoxify your blood and removes toxins from the body. It is due to its bitter action in the body, which helps in digesting and eliminating toxins from the body.

Side effects of snake gourd (trichosanthes cucumerina)

Snake gourd extract has anti-fertility effects in women. It can cause anti-ovulatory activity in females. One study has confirmed these findings in experiment on adult rats. [20]

However, snake gourd as vegetable is safe, but regular use of its extract by women may cause ovulation problems, so stay on safer side not to use extract during reproductive age.

Toxicity due to snake gourd

The toxicity profile is studied in one research in which researchers have found that snake gourd is safe to use without any toxicity in diabetes. [21]

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