Botanical Name: Benincasa hispida
Indian Name: Petha
Description and Composition
Ash gourd, also known as white gourd or wax gourd, is an annual, hairy climbing herb. It is an ash-coloured, large fruit vegetable like pumpkin. It is commonly cultivated for its nutritive and medicinal values.
An analysis of the ash gourd shows substantial amount of moisture and a little amount of protein, fat, fibre and carbohydrates. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 15. The seeds contain pale yellow oil.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
Ash gourd is wholesome and nutritive. Being low in calories it is particularly useful for diabetic and obese people. It is cooling and laxative. This herb increases the secretion and discharge of urine. It promotes libido and is useful in periodic attacks of hysteria and convulsions.
The dilute juice of ash gourd is beneficial in the treatment of peptic ulcer. The juice, squeezed out of grated ash gourd with an equal amount of water added to it, should be taken daily in the morning on an empty stomach. No food should be consumed for 2 to 3 hours afterwards. This also relieves inflammation in the alimentary canal.
Ash gourd acts as a blood coagulant. From ancient times, its fresh juice mixed with a teaspoon of alma or lime juice is used as a specific medicine to stop profuse bleeding from lungs and nose, in piles and haematuria, a disease characterised by the presence of blood cells in the urine.
A delicious sweet prepared from pulp of the fruit by boiling its pieces in water and adding sugar syrup to it is used as a medicine to increase weight, in tuberculosis, weakness of the heart, heat in the body, thinness of semen and anaemia.
Shelled seeds of ash gourd are anabolic that promote tissue growth-especially when taken with coconut milk. They expel tape worm and other worms from the intestine.
The peel and seeds of ash gourd, boiled in coconut oil, art useful in hair growth, prevent dandruff and dryness of the scalp.
Detoxifying Effects: Due to its diuretic action, ash gourd increases the output of urine and washes out waste products from the body.
The unripe fruit is cooked as a vegetable. The ripe fruitlargely used for making sweetmeat. The young leaves and buds are also cooked.