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Snake Gourd: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


Have you seen a snake-like appearing vegetable? If not, then you might be astonished to know that there is a greenish-white (when immature) long and cylindrical vegetable  that turns dark red (when mature).1 It is known as snake gourd, long tomato, tomato gourd or viper gourd in various countries. It is commonly grown in Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Peninsula, Philippines and Malaysia. The plant is a creeper and belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae.2  

benefits of snake gourd

Snake gourd is scientifically known as Trichosanthes cucumerina. In India, it is referred to by a different name in region. For example, it is known as Pudalankaai in Tamil, Potlakaaya in Telugu, Chichinga/Chichingae in Bengali, Chachinda in Hindi, Padabali in Gujarati, Galatori in Punjabi, Aduvulakaayi in Kannada and Padavalanga in Malayalam. In other countries, it is also known as serpent vegetable, Zucchetta, Patola, etc. It is definitely one of the vegetables with numerous different names.1 

Snake gourd has been used in Ayurveda and Siddha since ancient times. The entire plant of snake gourd might be beneficial as the roots, leaves, fruits and seeds all have potential benefits against various ailments. In traditional medicine systems of Ayurveda and Siddha, it is used in polyherbal preparations.1

Did you know?

  • Snake gourd is low in calories, with 100g containing only 20 calories. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Snake gourd is a good source of folate, with 100g providing 6% of the daily recommended intake. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Snake gourd is low in calories and high in fiber, making it a great addition to a weight loss diet. source: science.gov
  • Snake gourd has been used in traditional medicine to promote digestion and relieve constipation. source: science.gov

Nutritional Value of Snake Gourd: 

Snake gourd has a high nutritional value with the following nutrients present in it. 

  • Proteins  
  • Fats  
  • Fibre  
  • Carbohydrates  
  • Predominant minerals:    
  • Potassium  
  • Phosphorous  
  • Sodium  
  • Magnesium  
  • Zinc  
  • Predominant vitamins    
  • Vitamin A    
  • Vitamin E    
  • Flavonoids  
  • Carotenoids  
  • Soluble and insoluble dietary fibre  
  • Phenolic acids1  

Also Read: Potato: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Snake Gourd: 

Snake gourd might have the following properties: 

  • It might be an antioxidant  
  • It might show anti-inflammatory properties (may help alleviate reaction of the body to any injury or irritation)  
  • It might be beneficial for the stomach (gastroprotective)  
  • It might help in lowering the blood glucose level (anti-diabetic)  
  • It might help reduce fever (anti-pyretic)  
  • It might be effective against microorganisms (anti-microbial)  
  • It might help against worm infestation in the stomach (anthelmintic)1  

Also Read: Sweet Corn: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Snake gourd belongs to the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae). Due to its long, slender and curving-like snake, it is known as a ’snake gourd’. It can easily reach up to 1.5 m in length.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Potential Uses of Snake Gourd for Overall Health: 

There are very few studies to know the potential benefits of snake gourd.  The existing studies show that snake gourd might have the following potential uses for human health. 

1. Potential uses of snake gourd for diabetes  

 A study was conducted on Albino rats to explore the antidiabetic potential of snake gourd.2 In this study it was found that the ethanolic extract of snake gourd might have a positive effect on the blood sugar level. Snake gourd might help in increasing the glucose tolerance of the body through absorption into surrounding tissues.2 Therefore, it might be helpful for diabetes. However, more research on humans is required to prove these effects. Moreover, it is advised that you consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment for serious conditions such as diabetes.2 

2. Potential uses of snake gourd for the stomach  

In the A study conducted by Arawwawala proved that snake gourd might help protect the stomach from damage from substances such as ethanol and indomethacin.2 The snake gourd extract might help increase the protective mucous layer of the stomach, may interfere with the activities causing damage to stomach cells (antihistamine activity) or may help decrease the acidity of the gastric juice. However, further research is required to prove these claims.2 

3. Potential uses of snake gourd for the liver  

As previously mentioned, the whole plant of snake gourd was used in traditional medicine. The protective activity towards liver might be attributed to the whole plant. The ethanol extract of the whole plant might have potential to protect the liver from carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity.2  However, this is not a substitute for a consultation with a health professional.2 

4. Potential uses of snake gourd for inflammation  

It was seen in animal models that snake gourd might have the potential to help relieve inflammation. In an experiment done by Kolte RM et al., in 1997, the hot root extract of snake gourd showed the potential to alleviate inflammation seen in animal models. However, further research on humans is required to prove these effects.2  

5. Potential uses of snake gourd for cancer  

The root extract and the fruit extract of snake gourd were tested for their effect against cancer cells. This study conducted by Kongtun S et al. in 1999 showed that both these extracts of snake gourd showed the potential to be effective against the growth of breasts, lungs and colon cancer. Further, it was seen that the root extract showed greater potential than the fruit extract. Therefore, snake gourd might have the potential to help against cancer. Please note that cancer is a serious condition and must be properly diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Kindly visit a doctor and do not self-medicate.2 

6. Other potential uses of snake gourd  

A study showed that snake gourd might be effective against larva of certain insects. Therefore, it might help with certain infections caused by insects.2 

Traditionally, snake gourd has been used to cure certain ailments. So, it might have the potential to help with fever, headache, alopecia, skin allergy, colic (sudden or abrupt stomach pain), boils, diarrhoea, haematuria (blood in urine), bronchitis, malaria, etc.2 

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of snake gourd in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefit of snake gourd on human health.   

Also Read: Jicama: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

How to Use Snake Gourd? 

Snake gourd is a vegetable that is usually cooked before eating. It can be had in form of curry, stir fried or added to soups.  

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

Did you know? Due to its rich vitamin and mineral contents, snake gourd might stimulate new hair growth. It might also help in strengthening weak hair follicles. Additionally, snake gourd might also help in reducing dandruff.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Snake Gourd: 

Although snake gourd is relatively well consumed as a vegetable, the side effects of snake gourd are yet to be studied. If you notice any unusual symptoms after eating it, you should consult a doctor immediately. 

Precautions to Take with Snake Gourd:  

It is advised that you follow the general precautions such as looking for the quality of snake gourd before its consumption. It is important to take extra caution along with doctor’s advice before giving snake gourd to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, elderly individuals and children. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Snake gourd might react with certain drugs and have adverse reactions. However, there is insufficient data regarding the drug interactions. Therefore, it is best that you consult a doctor, especially if you are undergoing any treatment.    

Also Read: Elephant Yam: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the benefits of snake gourd?  

Snake gourd may be helpful in diabetes, for stomach against inflammation and parasitic infestations, etc. However, the potential uses of snake gourd need to be further investigated. Therefore, please consult a doctor for the mentioned conditions and do not self-medicate.1,2 

What are the snake gourd nutrients?  

Nutrients present in snake gourd are carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water. The predominant minerals present in snake gourd are potassium and phosphorous. It contains vitamins A and E. It also contains various bioactive components like carotenoids, flavonoids, etc.1  

Are there any snake gourd benefits for diabetes?  

As seen in several studies, snake gourd might increase the glucose tolerance, may increase the uptake of glucose by surrounding cells, might have insulin-like actions. Therefore, it may be helpful in diabetes. However, please consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. Do not self-medicate. 

Are there any benefits of snake gourd for skin?  

There are no reports regarding the benefits of snake gourd for skin. Therefore, there is need for more research. 

What is snake gourd called in Hindi? 

Snake gourd is known by different names in different languages. It is known as Chachinda in Hindi. Some of its other names are, Pudalankaai in Tamil, Potlakaaya in Telugu, Chichinga/Chichingae in Bengali, Padabali in Gujarati, Galatori in Punjabi, Aduvulakaayi in Kannada and Padavalanga in Malayalam. 


1. Liyanage R, Nadeeshani H, Jayathilake C, Visvanathan R, Wimalasiri S. Comparative Analysis of Nutritional and Bioactive Properties of Aerial Parts of Snake Gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn.). Int J Food Sci [Internet]. 2016;2016. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5138480/ 

2. Sandhya S, Vinod KR, Chandra Sekhar J, Aradhana R, Nath VS. An updated review on Tricosanthes cucumerina L. Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res [Internet]. 2010;1(2):56–60. Available from: https://www.globalresearchonline.net/volume1issue2/Article 011.pdf 

Also Read: Daikon Radish Benefits: A Comprehensive Guide to Nutritional Advantages

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