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Ash Gourd is a medicinal plant and used in Ayurveda from ancient times to treat variety of disorders. It is known by many common names such as Petha, Kaddu, Ash Gourd, Hairy Melon, Wax Gourd, Winter Melon, Ash Pumpkin and White Pumpkin. Its botanical name is Benincasa hispida. Big, cylindrical-spheroidal Kushmanda fruits or White-Pumpkins are commonly seen in market as vegetable.
A very famous sweet preparation, Petha is made from its fruit pulp. Petha sweet gives relief in dyspepsia and hyperacidity. It is nutritious and cool in potency.
Charak and Sushruta prescribed the cooked vegetable for its laxative and diuretic action. The juice of fruit is prescribed by Sushruta for mental disorders, insanity and other nervous diseases.
Kushmanda is especially useful in the treatment of pitta-vikar, bleeding disorders, epilepsy, insanity and nervous disorders.
The fruits of the plant (White pumpkin) are considered aphrodisiac. Their intake decreases vata and Pitta inside the body. They are laxative, diuretic, nutritious and styptic (stops bleeding). The decoction of fruit is given for internal hemorrhages and diseases of the respiratory tract. The juice of fruit is also used for treating mental disorders such as insanity, epilepsy etc.
The leaves are cooling in action. The seeds are used to treat intestinal worms.
Ash gourd or White gourd melon is widely cultivated for its fruits in tropical Asia.
It is a large trailing gourd climbing by means of tendrils;Leaves are large and hispid beneath;Flowers are yellow, unisexual with male peduncle 7.5-10cm long and female peduncle shorter;Fruits are broadly cylindric, 30-45cm long, hairy throughout and ultimately covered with a waxy bloom;
The botanical name of Petha/Kushmanda is Benincasa hispida (Benincasa= of Benin;hispida= hispid= thickly covered with long stiff bristly hairs). Its synonyms are B. cerifera Savi. Cucurbita hispada Thunb. It belongs to plant family Cucurbitaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of the plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Dilleniidae
- Order: Violales
- Family: Cucurbitaceae – Cucumber family
- Genus: Benincasa Savi – benincasa
- Species: Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn. – waxgourd
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Leaves, fruit, seeds, roots.
Plant type: Climber.
Distribution: In warmer parts of India.
Habitat: Cultivated largely in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Bihar.
- Ayurvedic: Kushmanda, Kushmandaka, Kushmaandanadi, kooshmanda
- Unani: Pethaa, Mahdabaa, Kaddue-Roomi, Maghz Tukhm Paith (Benincasa hispida seed kernel)
- Siddha: Ven-poosani, Sambalpushani
- English: Ash Gourd, White Gourd, Wax Gourd, White Pumpkin
- Sanskrit: Pushpaphalam, Briihatphalam
- Assamese: Kumra
- Bengali: Chal Kumra, Kumra
- English: White guard melon
- Gujrati: Safed Kohalu, Bhuru, Kohalu, Bhuru Kolu
- Hindi: Kushmand, Petha, Raksa
- Kannada: Boodi Humbala
- Malayalam: Kumbalanga
- Marathi: Kohala
- Oriya: Kakharu, Panikakharu
- Punjabi: Petha
- Tamil: Pooshanikkai
- Telugu: Boodida Gummadi
- Urdu: Petha
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Kushmanda fruit
Kushmanda is Laghu and Snigdha, sweet, cold in potency. It enhances the Medhya (intellect) and subdues Vata and Pitta.
- Rasa (taste on the tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Snigdha
- Virya: Sita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)
Action: Balya, Dipana, Hridya, Vrishya, Basti-shodhaka, Mehana, Tridosha-hara, Jeerna-anga Pushti Prada, Basti shodhaka, shramsana, Arocakahara, Vata-pitta-jit.
Few important Ayurvedic medicines containing petha are: Vastyamayantaka Ghrita, Kushmandaka Rasayana, Dhatryadi Ghrita, and Kushmanda Ghrita.
In Ayurveda Petha is used in the treatment of Mutraghata (retention of urine), Mutrakricchra ( painful urination), Prameha (urinary disorders), Trishna (excessive thirst), Ashmari (stones), Manasa Vikara (mental disorders), Malabandha ( constipation).
Constituents of Kushmanda: The fruits contain lupeol, beta-sitosterol, their acetates, several amino acids, flavonoids, glycosides, sacchrides, proteins, carotenes, vitamins, minerals, ß-sitosterin and uronic acid.
Dosage: Dried pieces of the fruit 5-10 grams;Fruit juice:10-50 ml.
Health benefits of Wax Gourd/Winter Melon
- It has cooling action on the body.
- It has anti-allergic and antihistamine activity.
- It has anti-ulcer action. It prevents formation of ulcers. Study Shows Kushmanda possesses significant antiulcer activity. There was decrease in ulcer index in animals treated with fruit extract of Kushmanda.
- It has an antioxidantaction due to the presence of Terpenes, Flavanoid C, glycosides and sterols.
- It possesses potent antipyretic effect and is useful in fever.
- Its intake gives relief in constipation and urinary disorders.
- It reduces vata and Pitta inside the body.
- It is beneficial in the management of Alzheimer’s disease due to its strong antioxidant action.
- It helps to reduce obesity. A Study investigated the anorectic effect of the methanol extract of Kushmanda in Swiss albino mice. Results revealed for the first time, a possible anorectic activity of Kushmanda probably through CNS mediation, with no effect on gastric emptying.
- It gives relief in acidity, excess heat, bleeding disorders and cough.
- It has appetizer, purgative, diuretic, aphrodisiac and bladder purifier properties.
- It is useful in asthma, insanity, epilepsy and other nervous diseases, burning sensation, diabetes, piles, dyspepsia, fever and vitiated conditions of pitta.
Medicinal Uses of Petha/Kushmanda/Benincasa hispida
Petha is rejuvenating tonic that improves health, strength and intellect. It has a nutritive, tonic, sweet, alterative, laxative, diuretic, tonic, aphrodisiac, styptic (stops bleeding), cooling, anti-mercurial, and antiperiodic properties.
In Ayurveda, the fresh juice of the fruit is given to treat haemoptysis (the coughing up of blood) and other haemorrhage (flow of blood from a ruptured blood vessel) from internal organs.
The fruits are useful in asthma, insanity, epilepsy and other nervous diseases, burning sensation, diabetes, piles, dyspepsia, fever and vitiated conditions of pitta.
The fruit is also good antidote for many kinds of vegetable, mercurial and alcoholic poisoning.
The seeds are cooling, anthelmintic, brain-tonic, cardiac tonic, and antipyretic. They are useful in dry cough, fever, urethrorrhea (abnormal discharge from the urethra), syphilis, hyperdipsia and vitiated conditions of pitta. Seeds are useful in expelling tapeworms and bladder stones.
Epilepsy (Mirgi or Apasmara in Hindi), hysteria
In epilepsy, 7-14 ml. fresh juice of fruit is given with 1/2 teaspoon Mulethi twice daily.
Hyperacidity, burning sensation, Bleeding disorders, Parinamasula (Duodenal ulcer), Urticaria, itching all over body, nervousness, gastric ulcer
Kushmanda is a cooling in action. It is useful in diseases that are caused due to excess heat inside the body.
Take 10-20 ml juice of fruit pulp with 2 teaspoon sugar-candy or Mishri 2-3 times a day.
Painful urination, difficulty in urination, burning sensation while urination, pain in kidney, inflammation in male sex organ
Juice of fruit pulp 4 tablespoon + Yavkshaar 1 teaspoon + hing/asafoetida + sugar 5 teaspoon, is given two times a day.
Obesity, peptic ulcer, Alzheimer’s disease
Take the fruit and remove its seeds and rind. Chop and grate. Squeeze the pulp to get the juice. Add equal amount of water. Drink one cup.
Mental disorders, epilepsy, Insanity
Take Go-Ghrita (1 part), Mulethi paste (9 part) and Petha juice (9 part). Mix all the ingredients and cook to make medicated ghee. Take this ghee in mental disorders.
Intake of Kushmanda Ghritam shows a beneficial effect in insanity and epilepsy.
General health tonic, weakness, spermatorrhoea, body heat
Daily take Kushmanda Rasayan. Kushmanda Rasayan improves overall health. It is a tonic and gives strength to every body organ. It increases libido, and gives relief in variety of disorders. It is a digestive, carminative, restorative, expectorant, and sedative.
Dandruff, scalp dryness, hair fall
Take crushed seeds (2 tablespoon) and cook in 150 ml coconut oil to make medicated oil. Apply this oil daily on scalp.
Remove the seed cost to get the kernel. Fry them in Ghee and eat.
Bleeding disorder, nose bleeding, external bleeding
Mix 1 cup fresh juice with Amla powder 1 teaspoon and drink.
The leaf juice is rubbed on bruise as a cooling agent.
It is completely safe to take Kushmanda.
In acute toxicity study in rats, the aqueous and ethanolic extract of Benincasa hispida were found to be safe and no mortality was observed at a dose as high as 5 g/kg.
Excess intake of juice can cause loose motions.