Ash Gourd has its botanical name as Benincasa hispida and is popularly known by other names such as winter melon, fuzzy melon, Chinese watermelon, white pumpkin, and wax gourd. It is a vegetable but also referred to as fruit that is native to Southeast Asia, India, China, and Indonesia.
The hairy surface of the vegetable becomes waxed and gets powdery ash color as it matures. Usually found in oblong to round shape and prominently compared with the size and shape of a watermelon and pumpkin.
Chinese and Indian cuisine add the vegetable’s flesh in various dishes, soups, stews, etc. In Traditional Chinese medicine, the vegetable illustrated different health properties and benefits.
Indian Ayurvedic medicine also makes use of this watery gourd for centuries. However, only a few properties and applications of the ash gourd are affirmed by botanical studies.
Let’s look into the possible and believing healing properties and benefits of ash gourd for overall well being.
Common Names of Ash Gourd
- Botanical Name: Benincasa hispida
- Tamil Name: நீர் பூசணிக்காய் / Neer Poosanikkai
- English Name: Ash Gourd
- Hindi Name: राख लौकी / raakh laukee
- Kannada Name: ಬೂದಿ ಸೋರೆಕಾಯಿ / Būdi sōrekāyi
- Malayalam Name: ആഷ് പൊറോട്ട / āṣ peāṟēāṭṭa
- Telugu Name: బూడిద పొట్లకాయ / Būḍida poṭlakāya
- Punjabi Name: ਸੁਆਹ ਲੌਕੀ / Su’āha laukī
- Marathi Name: Rākha Laukī
- Bengali Name: ছাই লাউ / Chā’i lā’u
- Gujrati Name: રાઈ લોટ / Rā’ī lōṭa
- Urdu Name: راکھ لوکی
What is Ash Gourd?
Ash Gourd, commonly known as Winter melon and botanically called Benincasa hispida is a unique melon vegetable mostly used in China and India. Asian cuisine includes this vegetable in curries, soups, and fries.
Ash gourd bears big yellow flowers. The leaves are 10 to 20 cm long and have a long hair stem. The fruits usually grow up to 30 cm in diameter. Fresh and young ash gourds have fine hairs in the outer that will disappear as the vegetable matures become waxy outer that increases the shelf life.
The ash gourd’s exterior color may vary between dark green and pale gray based on the cultivated areas. Matured melons have white ash coating their distinctive places. This ash coating is where the vegetable created another name for it, Ash Gourd. The shape of the gourd varies from round to oblong. Mostly, plant propagation is done by seeds.
Taste and Use
Ash gourd tastes like cucumber. The thick flesh of immature vegetables has a sweet taste. There is no virtual taste in the gourd, and that’s why the plant is easily added to different kinds of foods, salads, juices, and smoothies.
Winter melons are consumed as a regular drink on hot days. On colder days, black pepper or honey is added with gourd to reduce its natural cooling effects without wasting the nutrition. Ash gourd have typically eaten raw to get the maximum energy.
History of Ash Gourd
Although the scientists and researchers point out that ash gourds are more likely native to Japan, China, Indonesia, or Indo-Malaysia, the plant’s ancient roots make it hard to find out the precise origin.
However, the countries mentioned above have been using Ash gourd for many decades.
Nutritional Values of Ash Gourd
Like other gourd family plants, the ash gourd seeds, leaves, vegetables, and juice extracts are filled with various nutritional and dietary constituents. Ash Gourd, otherwise called Winter Melon, contains 96% water and low carbs, calories, protein, and fat. But, it is rich in fiber.
Here is the nutritional value of 100 grams serving of Ash Gourd.
|Nutrition||Value / %DV|
|Total Fat||3.9 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.5 g|
|Total Carbohydrate||12.5 g|
|Dietary Fiber||0.6 g|
Ash gourd also has Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese, Phosphorus, and various vitamin C and B complex vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine.
Ash gourd is a good source of carotenoids and flavonoids. These are two antioxidants that are believed to prevent cell damage and specific conditions such as heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes.
13 Possible Health Benefits of Ash Gourd
Ash gourd is often recommended in traditional ayurvedic and Chinese medicines because of its diuretic, laxative, and aphrodisiac properties. It is also said to help improve overall health by increasing energy levels, sharpening the mind, treating mental illness, aids in digestion, and reduces the causes of diseases.
1. Improves Digestion
Ash gourd contains high water, low fiber, and calorie contents, so the vegetable may help ease the digestion and healthily improve body weight.
Many studies affirmed that water-dense and low-calorie vegetables and fruits could be highly helpful in healthy weight loss.
The laxative properties of ash gourd helps regulate the bowel movements and hence reduce discomfort in the gut. Moreover, the vegetable is a rich source of fiber which can create a gel-like substance in our gut that slowly digests the food and makes you feel full for a long time. It also helps to prevent stomach instances like bloating, constipation, and stomach cramps by digesting heavy meals.
People who are following a low-carb diet can include ash gourd in their diet.
Also Read: 10 Herbs to Boost Digestion
2. Ulcers and Intestinal Parasites
Ash gourd is believed to prevent ulcer formations in membranes of the stomach and intestine. Ash gourd is a natural remedy for peptic ulcer. Ash gourd juice with equal amounts of water can be consumed on an empty stomach in the morning for peptic ulcers. After drinking ash gourd juice, don’t take anything between 2 and 3 hours.
The acidity formed by eating spicy foods or long time fasting can be combated by ash gourd juice.
Ash gourd has antimicrobial properties that help remove the harmful bacteria from the stomach and intestine, thereby aid in keeping away the gastrointestinal infections and indigestion.
Shelled ash gourd seeds with coconut milk can be taken to promote tissue growth and prevent tapeworm and other parasitic worms from the stomach.
3. Aids In Weight Loss
All the water-dense vegetables, low calorie, and low carb fruits and vegetables are the best natural remedies for healthy weight loss. If you are working to lose weight, add ash gourd in your low-calorie diet like a juice or stew with many nutrients and low carbs.
More than losing weight, ash gourd has often said to help manage the weight. It treats anorexia in underweight people and helps them get a healthy weight and boost metabolism.
The dietary fiber in ash gourd gives a feeling of fullness that keeps a person away from cravings and helps in fat burning rapidly.
Also Read: 10 Best Herbs for Weight Loss
4. Helps Stop Internal Bleeding
Ash gourd is naturally an anticoagulant, so it helps in controlling bleeding. Though it is often used to stop external bleeding, the gourd can also prevent the internal bleeding effectively. On regular consumption, the ash gourd can stop the nose bleeding that occurs in summer.
Internal bleeding in the kidney causes conditions like Haematuria, i.e., blood in urine, bleeding due to piles, ulcers, and other various internal bleedings that can be controlled by ash gourd juice.
Fresh ash gourd juice mixed with lemon or amla juice gives rapid relief from haematuria and piles.
5. Helps Fight Mental Illnesses
Ash gourd is a natural sedative, which means it can relax and soothe the mind and treat mental illness. It spreads a calming effect on the brain and nervous system; thereby, it can alleviate nerve conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, paranoia, and neurosis.
A daily glass of fresh ash gourd juice can combat all the stress that you get in a day.
6. Sharpness of Mind
Ash gourd contains a cooling effect naturally. As you drink a glass of ash gourd juice every morning, you can see the coolness in your body and alertness in your mind. As per some ayurvedic scriptures, ash gourd on regular consumption can improve the intellectual levels.
You can notice the difference within a week of usage. It improves the sharpness of the mind, and it is pranic. It brings energy to the body and mind without agitation.
7. Increased Energy
Ash gourd juice can bring high energy to our body, and it keeps the nervous system calm. You can get the same energy with coffee but do it with agitation. A glass of ash gourd juice can provide a high amount of energy without agitation.
The pulp of the vegetable is cubed, boiled, and soaked in sugar syrup, which is an edible mixture that tastes like candy. This sweet pulp helps to gain weight, improve heart health, and reduce tuberculosis and anemia, and overall it improves the general weakness.
8. Constipation, Piles, Boils
The anti-inflammatory and cooling effect of ash gourd juice helps to cool down the body. Those who have excess heat in the body can drink this juice daily to reduce the heat and health problems caused by body heat such as constipation, piles, and piles.
9. Augments Heart Function
Being a low source for cholesterol content, ash gourd is included in the daily diet to improve heart health and regulate its functions. In various standard Indian dishes, the vegetable is added after boiling to enhance the blood circulation from and to the heart, improve cardiovascular health, and ensure the proper functioning of cardiac muscles.
10. Detoxifies The Kidneys
Ash gourd induce the usual body waste removal through the excretory system in the body. The vegetable stimulates the fluid secretion in the kidneys, significantly hampers the harmful toxins while ensuring proper hydration in internal organs. Ash gourds encourage routine works of the bladder and kidneys.
11. Strengthens Respiratory Processes
Ash gourd contains intrinsic expectorant properties, which means the vegetable can help to lose and remove excess mucus or phlegm build-ups from respiratory tracts, and thereby, it significantly contributes to regulating the lung functioning and hampers allergies and breathing problems.
12. Complements Ketogenic Diet
Keto diet mainly includes nonstarchy vegetables. Ash gourd is a vegetable with low carb and sugar, so it can be a beneficial ingredient in the keto diet, which gradually lowers the intake of excessive calories. You can easily prepare a ketogenic diet recipe by cutting, boiling, and seasoning a vegetable with salt and pepper that can be regularly taken for lunch.
13. Treats Common Cold
On regular consumption of ash gourd juice, you can get rid of common cold, flu, cough, sinus, and bronchitis. It can also offer better relief from chronic asthma.
However, above are the possible benefits of ash gourd, and there is no scientific evidence to prove some of its healing benefits.
Though some of the studies affirmed a few medicinal properties of ash gourd like anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and antimicrobial, all these studies have tested on animals and used an extract of ash gourd’s flesh, vine, juice, or skin instead of the whole vegetable.
And of course, these studies happen in small amounts and are dated. Many effects of ash gourd have not tested on humans yet. So, we need further research to make a definite conclusion.
Benefits of Ash Gourd Juice For Skin and Hair
Ash gourd has cosmetic uses for face and hair. Ash gourd juice with lemon or other hydrating and nutritious compounds can remove dark spots in the face and bring a glow to your skin.
Ash gourd juice can be applied on the scalp and hair to remove and prevent dandruff. You can use this hair pack and wash the hair with the usual shampoo. You can even add the ash gourd seeds to your regular coconut oil for hair.
1. Naturally Moisturizes Skin
Ash gourd has natural smoothening contents of Vitamin E and antioxidant properties. The gel extracted from the vegetable can be applied to rashes and sunburns that soothe the irritation and moisturize the dried skin and make it soft.
2. Combats Skin Infections
The extract made from ash gourd leaves possesses astringent properties that aid in neutralizing the severely infected and flamed spots in the skin. The extract can also be given to treat boils, abscesses, and carbuncles on the skin due to fungal infections, allergies, pollution, and the sun heat.
3. Promotes Hair Growth
Ash gourd contains various vitamins and minerals, which naturally nourish the dry hair. A gel extracted from ash gourd profoundly penetrates the scalp and protects hair follicles, making the hair thick and strong.
4. Tackles Excessive Dandruff
Ash gourd has powerful chemical constituents that can remove dandruff and lower the flakiness’s development on the scalp. Ash gourd protects the hair follicles from fungus and dirt that causes dandruff.
Ash gourd gel can be used to treat scalp itchiness and dry hair on regular usage. The gel can gradually restore the health and shine of the dull hair.
Ash gourd seeds and peels boiled with coconut oil can be applied to hair that prohibits scalp dryness and dandruff, thereby promoting hair growth.
How to Prepare Ash Gourd Gel At Home
Ash Gourd – 1 (medium-sized)
Peel off the ash gourd and cut it two halves. Remove the seeds and take out soft inner flush. Grind it to a smooth paste without using water and take it as a viscous gel. Apply the gel on the scalp and hair, leave it for 30 minutes, and wash the gel off the scalp using regular shampoo. Dry the hair. Do it once a month.
Ash gourd has antifungal and moisturizing properties that work as a balm and soothe the scalp and removes dandruff. Use this homemade organic hair gel to treat flaking scalp and nourish it.
Ash Gourd Benefits In Ayurveda
Ayurveda, roots, leaves, vegetables, and juice of ash gourd are used to treat various health ailments as they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The parts of ash gourd are used to prepare ayurvedic tonic and concoctions to heal fever, common cold, heart diseases, jaundice, and improve bone health.
1. Reduce Fever
Ash gourd is filled with water, fiber, and phytonutrients that naturally have a cooling effect, which can be an excellent remedy to reduce the temperature in the body. Ash gourd leaves are rubbed on high fever patients, immediately decreasing the body temperature to usual and fatigue symptoms.
A person suffering from fever naturally loses their metabolism to use ash gourd leaves to maintain proper electrolyte balance by removing the excess water and salt.
Also Read: 10 Incredible Natural Herbs to Cure Fever
2. Cures Jaundice
Ash gourd leaves inside cucurbitacins, which are the substance that is important for liver functions and defense systems in the body. The leaves also have a high amount of Vitamin C that contains antioxidant properties, which treats jaundice by boosting defense functions.
An Ayurvedic medicine prepared using crushed ash gourd leaves and coriander seeds can be given twice a day to treat jaundice.
3. Treats Heart Ailments
Ash gourd extract is a common ayurvedic remedy given to cardiac ailments such as chest pain, irregular heartbeats, palpitations, high blood pressure, and various other heart ailments. In traditional Indian medicine, two cups of ash gourd extract help alleviate heart problems, regulate blood flow, and reduce the difficulties in doing daily activities.
4. Heals Alopecia
Ash gourd gel can be used to reduce excessive hair fall; it regulates the blood flow and nerve functions in the scalp, promoting hair growth. Alopecia is attributed to severe hair loss and bald spots that can be countered by the carotene compounds in ash gourd gel. Thus, it gradually reduces the hair fall and strengthens the scalp and offers smooth hair.
5. Reduce Joint Pains
With an anti-inflammatory property, juice of ash gourd alleviates joint pains due to arthritis, bone pain, and muscle cramps, fractures, and gout. Ash gourd also contains calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; those are three essential minerals for bone health. It increases bone mass and restores regular movements of muscles and joints.
6. Boosts Immunity
Having an enormous amount of vitamin C, and a set of carotenoids and flavonoids, ash gourd is a powerful agent to boost immunity when the person is ill. When a person is suffering from diseases, the body organs work lower than its optimum. Taking the vitamin-enriched foods and vegetables like ash gourd inject vitamin C to blood cells that automatically transfer to all the body organs, which increase the recovery time.
Also Read: 10 Best Herbs to Boost Immune System
7. Regulate Thyroid Levels
When the thyroid hormone levels fluctuate and increase above its optimum range, it causes hyperthyroidism. Ash gourd is rich in iodine, an essential mineral to calm down floating thyroid levels. In contrast, zinc content in the gourd is beneficial in easing enzyme function for regulating thyroid concentrations.
8. Alleviates Sleeping Disorders
Insomnia is the most common and severe sleeping disorder caused due to anxiety, mental stress, and poor brain functioning. Ash gourd juice is profuse in vitamin B6 contents, which help regulate brain functions and allow conduction of nerve impulses without disruption. Hence those with insomnia or constant lack of sleep can have a glass of ash gourd juice to reduce neurotransmitter activities and get good sleep.
Also Read: Natural Herbs To Boost Quality Sleep
Ayurvedic properties of Ash Gourd
|Taste (Rasa)||: Sweet (Madhura)|
|Qualities (Gunas)||: Light (Laghu), Oily (Snigdha)|
|Taste after digestion (Vipaka)||: Sweet (Madhura)|
|Potency (Veerya)||: Cold (Sheeta)|
|Special effects (Prabhava)||: enhance intelligence|
|Effects on tridosha||: Pacifies Pitta and Vata|
Scientific Studies About Ash Gourd
- In 1995
- An animal study published in Jiangsu Journal of Agricultural Sciences indicated that ash gourd significantly works as a protector for the kidney. The study was tested in rats with kidney damage.
- In 2000
- A preliminary animal study published in Fitoterapia indicated that ash gourd juice reduced morphine withdrawal symptoms in rats. It was found that gourd juice has potent properties to treat Opioid addicted patients.
- In 2001
- An animal study published in an Ethnopharmacology Journal showed that extract of ash gourd prevents ulcers in rats. They found the extract was nontoxic.
- In 2003
- A study published in the Korean Journal of Nutrition admitted the traditional use of ash gourd as an anti-diabetic agent. The study was conducted in rats where the vegetables’ healthy compounds positively influenced insulin, glucose, cholesterol, and fatty acids.
- In 2003
- An animal study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology affirmed that extract of ash gourd contains antidepressant properties when tested in rats.
- In 2005
- A study published in an Ethnopharmacology Journal established that extract prepared from ash gourd seeds found to have anti-angiogenic properties. The extract hampered the blood supply to cancer cells.
- In 2005
- A study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics admitted the traditional use of ash gourd as an anti-diarrheal agent.
- In 2010
- A study published in the International Journal of Pharmacology found that methanolic extract taken from seeds of ash gourd illustrated potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to Buy Ash Gourd
Ash gourd is highly cultivated in China, India, Bangladesh, and other Southeast Asia regions. Out of Asia, ash gourd may not be available in usual local grocery stores, but you can find them in specific Indian, Chinese, or international markets.
When buying ash gourd, select a gourd that has no brushed marks and indentations. An organic and healthy ash gourd should weigh that can be identified with the same shape, size, and color of a watermelon except the white and ash outer surface.
The ash gourd is now available in stores and is safe to eat, but it should be stored in dry, cool places with proper cover if sliced as it will become sticky when it is wet. Before cutting the melon, it should be cleaned and rinsed from the surface. The inner texture of melon is even, crisp, and in white color. You can keep fresh or unsliced ash gourds for a month with cold and dry storage.
How to Eat Ash Gourd
Ash gourd is a common ingredient of Asian cuisine. The gourd is often chopped, boiled, and eaten or added to stews and soups. It can also be fried, baked, candied, added to salads, or even sliced and eaten raw like a cucumber.
Ash gourd has a mild sweet taste that used to make jam, candy, cake, ketchup, ice cream, and a famous Indian sweet called ‘petha.’ As it has high water content and mild taste, the gourd is added to fruit juices and smoothies.
Ash Gourd Recipes
Let’s see two different recipes, a sweet and a spicy gravy using ash gourd. Add the spices, salt, sugar, and water based on your personal taste.
Ash Gourd Gravy in Kerala Style
- Ash Gourd – 1 (medium-sized)
- Grated coconut – ½ cup
- Onion – 1
- Tomatoes – 2
- Green chilies – 2
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – As per taste
- For seasoning:
- Dried red chili – 2
- Curry leaves – 5 to 7
- Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
- Coconut oil – 2 tsp
Procedure: Grind the coconut and extract the coconut milk. Cut the ash gourd into small pieces. Cook the chopped onion and green chilies in coconut milk and add salt to taste. Now, add turmeric powder, cumin powder, and cook it medium heat. Add chopped tomatoes after ash gourd is boiled and then add flavored coconut milk. Heat another pan with oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chilies. Now, add all the seasoning ingredients to the gravy. Serve it with hot rice.
Agra Ash Gourd Petha in Traditional Indian Style
- Ash Gourd – 1 (medium-sized)
- Limestone / chuna – ½ tsp
- Sugar – 1½ cup
- Elaichi pods – 3
- Kesar/saffron – A few strands
- Water – As per required
Procedure : First, peel off the skin and remove seeds, and chop the ash gourd into cubes. Poke the cubes on all sides and keep aside. Take 4 cups of water in a large bowl and add limestone in it. Now, add the cubed ash gourd into it and stir well. Let it soak for 24 hours and stir it every 3 hours. Wash the ash gourd cubes by rubbing each other. Now, take a saucepan, add 4 cups of water, and let it boil. Add the rinsed ash gourd cubes in the saucepan and cook it for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now, take a large pan, add 1½ cup sugar, three pods of cardamom, saffron, and food color. Add ¼ cup water, cooked ash gourd after the sugar dissolved, and cook it for 10 minutes. Petha is ready almost, now place them in a plate and cool it for 12 hours. Finally, serve the sweet Agra Ash gourd petha and store the remaining in an airtight container for future use.
Ash Gourd Precautions and Side Effects
Always check if the ash gourd is fresh while purchasing in local stores. Because some stores inject harmful agents and pesticides in the old stocks.
Ash gourd contains various minerals and nutritions. This is good, but consuming this vegetable in high doses is dangerous as they may induce toxic levels of these compounds in the system.
People suffering from severe fever and experiencing high body temperature fluctuations should not take ash gourd as their cooling effect of vegetables may slow down the healing process on the body.
Ash gourd did not record any significant side effects when taken as juice or pulp for treating ailments. However, it is better not to make an overdosage of any herb as a remedy.
Always, consult ayurvedic practitioners or healthcare professionals before taking and adding any herbs.