Snake Gourd is a natural antibiotic, expectorant & laxative.
The snake gourd (chichinda), also known as Chinese cucumber, occupies an important place among vegetables in India. It is an annual plant and belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. It is of exceedingly rapid growth and of climbing habit. The tendril is divided into three parts. The leaves are angular and hairy, with 5-7 lobes. They emit foetid odour when damaged. The flowers are white. The fruits are large and greenish white. They often reach upto 150 cm. in length and 8 cm. in thickness. There is also a short-fruited type. Tender fruits are used as vegetables.
The botanical name of the snake gourd is Trichosanthes anguiana. It is believed to have originated in India. It occurs wide from India to Australia. It has also been cultivated for long in this country and the Far East. The plants are commonly grown in South India for their snake-like greyish white spongy fruits. They are also grown in North India but mostly in home gardens.
Snake gourd is a very nutritious vegetable. An analysis of this vegetable shows it to consists of moisture 94.6 percent, protein 0.5 percent, fat 0.3 percent, fibre 0.8 percent and carbohydrate 3.3 percent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium 26 mg. percent, phosphorus 20 mg. percent, iron 0.3 mg. percent, carotene 96mg. percent, thiamin 0.04 percent, riboflavin 0.06 mg percent, niacin 0.3 mg. percent. Its calorific value is 18.
Snake gourd is a natural antibiotic, expectorant, and laxative. It can disperse phlegm, remove pus, expel toxic matter and is anti-inflammatory. It creates a cooling effect in the body. Snake gourd is a tonic for the heart. It is useful in correcting disorders, processes of nutrition and it restores the normal function of the system. Snake gourd helps stimulate the production of body fluids, relieving dryness. The plant is particularly useful in checking night sweating during the active phase of tuberculosis of the lungs. The leaves of the plant are used in folk medicine all over India.
Snake gourd is useful in reducing bilious fever. A decoction of the fruits should be prepared for use in this condition. Its efficacy is increased if it is given with chiretta and honey. In obstinate cases of fevers, a combined infusion of this plant and of coriander will be more beneficial. About 12 grams of each should be infused in water overnight. The strained liquid should be given in two parts the next day.
A decoction of the leaves of the plant, made with the addition of coriander leaves, is also useful in bilious fever. The leaf juice is used to induce vomiting. In remittent fever, the leaf juice is applied as a liniment over the body.
Snake gourd is considered useful in wasting and thirst, which is an ancient reference to diabetes. This has led to investigations of its potential to treat this disease. Modern Chinese treatments for diabetes frequently include Snake gourd root as an ingredient. Even otherwise, being a low-calorie food, this vegetable can be used liberally with advantage by Type-II diabetics to reduce weight and also at the same time get adequate nourishment.
The juice of the fresh leaves is useful in the disorders of the heart like palpitation and pain in the heart on physical exertion. The juice should be given in doses of one to two tablespoons thrice daily.
An infusion of the leaves is beneficial in the treatment of jaundice. It should be given in 30 to 60 grams doses with coriander seed decoction thrice daily.
The juice of the leaves is beneficial in the treatment of alopecia, a disease of the scalp resulting in complete or partial baldness. The juice should be applied externally on the scalp for treating this condition.
As a Purgative
Juice of the snake gourd root is a strong purgative, while an infusion of the dried fruit is a mild one. It also aids digestion. The leaves of the plant are useful as an emetic and purgative in children suffering from constipation. A teaspoon of the fresh juice should be given early in the morning for this purpose. The seeds are especially useful as a moistening agent for treating dry constipation.
Snake gourd root, fruit, seeds, and pericarps are normally administered in doses of 9-15 grams in decoction. Snake gourd seeds are sometimes used in higher doses, up to 20 grams, in the treatment of constipation, as their oil lubricates the intestine. When powdered and made into pills, snakegourd is consumed at a dose of 2-3 grams daily.
Uses of Snake Gourd
The tender immature fruits are cooked as vegetables.
The seeds of the snakegourd should not be taken in excess of prescribed dosage as their overdose may cause gastric discomfort, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea; due to their high content of oil. The fruits are contraindicated in cold with diarrhea. Snake gourd root should be used cautiously during pregnancy as high doses may have an abortifacient effect.