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Ash Gourd: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

A proper diet which includes more fruits and vegetables may lead to a disease-free person. These ash gourds are one such vegetable which contains vitamins and nutrients with more health benefits. The scientific name of the ash gourd is Benincasa hispida and belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae. Ash gourd is available in Japan, India, China, Myanmar, and Malaysia. It is having different names like Hairy Melon, Fuzzy Melon, Ash Pumpkin, Gourd, Winter Melon, White Gourd, Tallow Gourd, White Pumpkin, and Chinese Preserving Melon. Ash gourd contains glycosides, carotenes, vitamins, volatile oils, minerals and uronic acid.1,3,6 Let us discuss the major health benefits of the ash gourd.  

Nutritional Value of Ash Gourd: 

The ash gourd contains both macro and micronutrients. The nutritional value of ash gourd per 100 grams is as follows:1,3 

ash gourd benefits

Nutrient Content 
Calories 13kcal 
Carbohydrates 3g 
Protein 0.4g 
Fat 0.2g 
Calcium 19mg 
Sodium 111mg 
Magnesium 10mg 
Phosphorus 19mg 
Zinc 0.6mg 
Fibre 2.9g 
Iron 11.8mg 
Vitamin B 0.133mg 
Vitamin B2 0.11mg 
Vitamin B3 0.4mg 
Vitamin C 13mg 

Table 1: Nutrient values present in the 100gm ash gourd 

Did you know?

Properties of Ash gourd: 

The following are the properties of the ash gourd: 

  • It might show anti-inflammatory activity1 
  • It might be a diuretic4 
  • It might show analgesic activity1 
  • It might have an anti-microbial effect1 
  • It may be antioxidant1 
  • It might show anthelmintic activity4 
  • It might reduce fever1 

Ash gourd contains nutrients such as carotenoids, peptides, and sterols. I recently read an article that suggests these nutrients of ash gourd make it a potential antibiotic to treat conditions like the common cold and cough.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Uses of Ash Gourd for Overall Health 

1. Potential uses of ash gourd for diarrhoea 

Ash gourd extract may reduce intestinal peristalsis and gastrointestinal motility. It may also help to lower the amount of fluid accumulated in the intestine. In addition, ash gourd has spasmolytic properties, which might reduce spasms in the intestine. In this manner, it might reduce diarrhoea.4 However, more research is needed to check the effects of ash gourd on diarrhoea. Kindly consult the doctor for diagnosis and treatment.  

2. Potential uses of ash gourd for peptic ulcer 

A peptic ulcer is a condition that breaks the tissue lining of the stomach or intestine. Shetty et al., 2008 reported the effect of ash guards on rat ulcers. It showed that ash gourds may reduce peptic ulcers by removing free radicals. It may also reduce gastric volume and acidity.4 However, more research is required to study the effects of ash gourd on ulcers. Do not self-medicate, as it may cause serious adverse effects. Kindly consult the doctor for better health results. 

3. Potential uses of ash gourd for diabetes 

Due to low carbohydrate content, ash gourd may lower diabetes. The hypoglycemic impact can cause the blood sugar level to decrease below the normal range. Amirthaveni et al., 2011 studied the hypoglycemic effects and consuming ash gourd for three months lowered blood glucose levels. Furthermore, ash gourd may enhance glucose absorption, which may help with diabetic management.3,5 However, diabetes is a severe problem, and ash gourd alone may not be beneficial. Please consult your doctor if you have diabetes and do not self-medicate.  

4. Potential uses of ash gourd for kidney 

Mingyu et al., 1995 investigated the nephroprotective activity of a whole fruit extract of Benincasa hispida in rats. The ash gourd reduced the toxicity caused by medications like paracetamol. In addition, it may minimise kidney weight, blood urea, blood creatinine, urinary glucose, urinary potassium level, and body weight. It may reduce urine volume, creatinine, and total blood protein levels. This way, it may aid in protecting kidney function.6 However, the effects of ash gourd on the kidneys require further research. Please consult the doctor and do not self-medicate. 

5. Potential uses of ash gourd for asthma 

Ash gourd contains biologically active compounds like Alonusenol and Multiflorenol which may help against asthma. Histamine may cause bronchoconstriction (bronchospasm) by triggering the H1 receptor on the smooth muscle of the lungs leading to asthma. A study conducted by Kumar et al., 2002 showed that the compounds Alonusenol and Multiflorenol present in the ash gourd may inhibit histamine. This may act against asthma. Asthma is a serious problem and consults your doctor if you have asthma. Do not self-medicate.  

6. Potential uses of ash gourd for Alzheimer’s disease 

Alzheimer’s disease develops when brain cells die slowly, causing memory loss and other symptoms. A study by Roy et al., 2007 showed that the antioxidant properties of ash gourd may act against Alzheimer’s disease.4 However, please consult the neurologist for diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, avoid using ash gourd as self-medication, as there could be severe side effects.   

7. Potential uses of ash gourd for depression 

Depression is a mental disorder affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Rukmani et al., 2003 studied and showed that ash gourd inhibits MAO-a enzyme, which is beneficial in managing depression. Monoamine oxidase (MOA) regulates mood, sleep, emotion, and appetite. In the same study, ash gourd may raise dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels while decreasing GABA levels. This way, ash gourd may be helpful in depression.7 Kindly consult the psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. Do not attempt to self-medicate since conditions could get serious. 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of ash gourd in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of ash gourd on human health.  

Let me give you a revelation about ash gourd! Ash gourd is a proven source of oxalate, which might act as a cause of problem for us. Yes, you read it right. Research studies suggest that a diet rich in oxalate may retain more calcium inside the body. From my experience, overconsumption of this vegetable might lead to kidney stones.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Ash gourd? 

  • Ash gourd boiled alone or with meat, although we can eat it raw.3  
  • It can be used as a value-added product in jam, beverages, cakes, and ice cream.3  
  • It may also be fried, steamed, and used to make highly spicy dishes.3 
  • Petha is a tasty dessert made from ash gourd fruit after cooking in water with sugar syrup.2 
  • Bari or nuggets are also prepared from the fruit of ash gourd.2 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking ash gourd in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Side Effects of Ash gourd: 

Ash gourd is a natural substance without any recognized adverse effects. However, if any adverse reactions occur while using it, seek immediate medical treatment. Consult the ayurvedic physician who recommended it to you; they will be able to discover the problem and appropriately treat it. 

Precautions to Take with Ash gourd:  

General care should be taken when using ash gourd. It should be used cautiously, especially by pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and only when prescribed by your doctor. In addition, it should be administered with caution to youngsters and the elderly. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Ash gourd may interact with drugs and alter their activity. However, no such information is available. More study is required on this topic. Please consult your doctor before consuming ash gourd, especially if you take medicines.   

Also Read: Purple Cabbage: Revealing its Research-Based Health Benefits

Frequently Asked Questions: 

State the benefits of ash gourd for hair? 

The ash produced by burning the seeds of the ash gourd is mixed with coconut oil. It may be beneficial in enhancing hair growth. In addition, it may also treat dandruff.3 Still, more research is needed to determine the effects of ash gourd on hair. Kindly consult the doctor for better results. 

Does ash gourd have any benefits on the skin?  

No, However, more research is in need to get the effects of ash gourd on skin. Kindly consult the doctor. 

Does ash gourd help to treat acidity? 

Ash gourd may be helpful in the management of acidity. It may help in the maintenance of the body’s pH. Also, it might reduce stomach acidity caused by acidic foods such as fried foods and cold drinks.2 However, kindly consult the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. 

Does the ash gourd effective against the common cold and fever? 

Ash gourd may control the common cold, cough, and fever. It might act as an antipyretic.2 However, further research is required to determine the impact of ash gourd on the common cold and fever.  

Does the ash gourd have any effects on vision? 

No. But, more research must be required to determine the impact of ash gourds on the eyes. 

References: 

  1. Das A, Chakraborty S. KUSHMANDA (BENINCASA HISPIDA): AN AMAZING FOOD IN AYURVEDA.Available from: https://wjpr.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/article_issue/1606542858.pdf 
  1. Pradhan K, Nandi A, Rout S, Tripathy B. Ash gourd-an under-exploited potential crop. Dogo Rangsang Research Journal. 2020;10(06):142-51. Available from: https://www.mendeley.com/reference-manager/reader/0cc17f7d-082a-37d2-998e-aaa329e3b0ed/138b9dce-979b-0035-481f-a3a79099dd61 
  1. Gupta P, Chikkala S, Kundu P. Ash gourd and its applications in the food, pharmacological and biomedical industries. International Journal of Vegetable Science. 2021 Jan 2;27(1):44-53. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19315260.2019.1699222 
  1. Pagare MS, Patil L, Kadam VJ. Benincasa hispida: A Natural medicine. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. 2011;4(12):1941-4. Available from: https://rjptonline.org/ShowPDF_Paper.aspx 
  1. Palamthodi S, Lele SS. Nutraceutical applications of gourd family vegetables: Benincasa hispida, Lagenaria siceraria and Momordica charantia. Biomedicine & Preventive Nutrition. 2014 Jan 1;4(1):15-21. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2210523913000160 
  1. Al-Snafi AE. The Pharmacological importance of Benincasa hispida. A review. Int Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research. 2013 Dec;4(12):165-70. Available from: http://www.ijpsr.info/docs/IJPSR13-04-12-007.pdf 
  1. Dhingra D, Joshi P. Antidepressant-like activity of Benincasa hispida fruits in mice: Possible involvement of monoaminergic and GABAergic systems. Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. 2012 Mar;3(1):60-2. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3284041/pdf/JPP-3-60.pdf 

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