Grew the popularity of Baba Ram Dev Ji, grew the popularity of summer’s special ”Lauki” commonly known as gheeya or kaddu. This yellow green vegetable, having the shape of a bottle (bottle gourd) has white pulp with white seeds embedded in spongy flesh.
It is probably one of the earliest vegetables cultivated by man. This warm season crop grows the best in a warm humid climate. It grows in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Tropical Africa and South America. In Urdu-Dudhi or Gheeya in Hindi, Sorakaya in Telugu, Dudhi-Bhopala in Marathi, Sorekayi in Kannada and ’Suraikkaai’ in Tamil, Its Latin name is Lagenaria siceraria and family is Cucurbitaceae. Bottle gourd is hairy, rapidly growing climbing annual herb, extending 30 feet or more in length. It flowers from august to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male of female however both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by insects.
Cultivation: The plant prefers light sandy, medium loamy & heavy & requires well grained soil.
Active principles & Pharmacology:
Fruits yield .013% of a solid foam containing cucurbitacin B, D, G, & H, mainly cucurbitain B. Leaves contain cucurbitain B & roots contain cucurbitain B, D & E. The fresh juice contains B-glycosidase / elaterase.
Botanically, both sweet & bitter varieties belong to the same species, but in medicine the bitter variety on the basis of its bitter principles & therapeutic properties is used.
Bhav Parkash described it is Sweet-Madhur, Heavy-Guru, Dry-ruksha, Cool in potency Sheet Veerya, Strength promoting-balya, Aphrodisiac- Vrishya, Pitta-Kapha pacifying and a good cardiac tonic Hridya.
Natural benefits and curative properties:
The cooked vegetable is cooling, diuretic, sedative and anti bilious. It gives a feeling of relaxation after eating it.
It is valuable in urinary disorders. A glassful of fresh juice prepared by grating the whole fruit should be mixed with teaspoonful of lime juice. It should be given once daily in the treatment of burning sensation in urinary passage due to high acidity of urine. It serves as an alkaline mixture. It carries the potential for breaking calculus (stones) in body.
Digestive disorders: It is a valuable medicine in excessive thirst due to severe diarrhoea, diabetes & excessive use of fatty of fried foods. A glassful of plain juice with a pinch of salt should be taken everyday in this condition. Its use during summer prevents excessive loss of sodium, quenches thirst & helps in preventing fatigue. The juice of the fruit is used in treatment of stomach acidity, indigestions and ulcers. Bottle gourd helps in removing constipation. Bottle gourd is rich in fiber. Fiber is known to be missing in modern diet absence of which causes constipation, digestive disorders like flatulence and even piles. Its leaves, fruit & seeds are considered as pectoral, an antihelminthic, & purgative and headache remedy.
Nervous diseases: Mixture of bottle gourd juice a sesame oil acts as an effective medicine for insomnia. It should be massaged over scalp every night. The juice is useful in treating insanity, epilepsy & other nervous diseases.
Poisoning : The bitter variety is prescribed as a cardiac tonic, as an antidote to poisoning and for alleviating bronchitis, cough, asthma and biligenic affections.
Fevers: It is used as a febrifuge especially by tubercular patients. The fruit is coated with a thick layer of clay & baked overnight in an oven. It is taken out next morning, the clay coating is removed & the fruit is cleanse & juice is expressed.
Medicinal uses of various parts of Bottle Gourd: Pulp around the seed: Emetic & purgative.
Flowers: antidote to poison.
Stem bark: Diuretic.
Fruit: Lithotriptic, diuretic, emetic, refrigerant. The fruit pulp is applied externally in delirium.
Juice of fruit: Stomach acidity, indigestion & ulcers.
Seed: Vermifuge, Poultice of boiled seeds is used in treating boils. Taken with Achyranthes in renal calculi, used to treat aching teeth and gums. The seed oil is massaged in headaches. Seeds are given internally in dropsy and as a diuretic and antihelminthic.
Leaves: Decoction of leaves of the bitter variety is given in Jaundice, applied to head to treat headaches.
Plant extract: Has antibiotic activity.
In china, 3 gram per day of this species has been used as a single treatment for diabetes mellitus.
So, the coming summers, keep yourself ready for the splendid gift of nature. Say no to tablets and include these organic diets in your menu. Wish you all a healthy living.