Bottle gourd / White pumpkin – nutrition, proven benefits, uses


The scientific name of the Bottle gourd or White pumpkin is Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standley. It is also know as Calabash gourd, Common gourd and White-flowered gourd. Other names include

CHINESE: Hu, hu lu gua, Bian pu, hu gua, mao gua, peh poh, Hu lu.
DANISH: Flaskegræskar, Flaskegraeskar, Kalabas.
DUTCH : Fleskalebas, Flessepompoen.
FINNISH : Pullokurpitsa.
FRENCH : Gourde bouteille, Cougourde, Calebassier, Calebasse.
FINNISH : Pullokurpitsa.
GERMAN : Flaschenkürbis, Flaschen-Kürbis, Trompetenkürbis, Kalebassenkürbis.
HINDI : Dudhi (Dudi, Dodi), Lokhi (Lauki).
INDONESIAN : Labu botol, Labu air, Labu putih
ITALIAN : Zucca da tabacco, zucca da vino
KHMER : Khlôôk.
LAOTIAN : Namz taux.
MALAYALAM : Sorekai.
MARATHI : Charanga.
NEPALESE: Laukaa, Tito tumba
ORIYA : Lau.
PORTUGUESE : Abóbora-carneira, Cabaco.
PUNJABI : Dudhi.
SINHALESE : Diya labu.
SPANISH : Calabaza vinatera, Cogorda, Cajombre, Calabaza, Guiro amargo.
SWEDISH : Kalebass, Flaskkurbits.
TELUGU : Beerakaya.
THAI : Namtao (Naam tao), Manamtao, Khi luu saa.

Bottle gourd  is a coarse vine reaching a length of several meters. Leaves are rounded, 10 to 40 centimeters wide, softly hairy on both sides, 5-angled or lobed. Flowers, white, large, solitary, and monoecious or dioecious. Petals are ovate, 3 to 4 centimeters long. Calyx is hairy, with a funnel-shaped tube. Fruit is green, mottled with gray or white, usually club-shaped, up to 80 centimeters long and 15 centimeters across, but in other forms, ovoid to depressed-globose and nearly as thick as it is long.


– Phytochemical screening yielded triterpenoids, flavonoids and steroids.

– Fruit is a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus, vitamin B.

– Fruit is 6% sugar; the seeds contain a fixed oil and saponin.

– Study isolated a new withanolide

– Seeds yield a clear, limpid oil.

– Extract study of fruits yielded two flavonoids, a triterpenoid, and a mixture of sterols. Spectral analyses showed oleanolic acid, ß-sitosterol, campesterol, isoquercitrin and kaempferol. (see study)

– Preliminary screening of a methanolic extract of fruits yielded flavonoids, saponins, sterols, tannins, and carbohydrates. (See study)

– Study of ethanol extract yielded tetracosanoic acid methyl ester(1), phytol(2), mix of 22-dihydrospinasterol and spinasterol(3), 22- dihydrospinasterol-3-O-glucoside(4), uracil(5), 8-C-P-hydroxy-benzylisovitexin(6), isovitexin(7), saponarin(8), maleicacid(9), α-D-mannopyranose(10) and 3-O-methyl-α-D-galactopyranose (11). Analysis for fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) yielded twenty compounds of which phytol, spinasterol and 22-dihydrospinasterol represented 52.66,7.59 and 5.78 %, respectively. (see study)

– Amino acid analysis yielded thirteen amino acids (37.50 g/100 g seed) with 7.41 g/100g and 3.145 g/100g as essential and semi-essential amino acids, respectively.

– Study of leaf extracts yielded tannins, saponins, flavonoids, terpenoids, alkaloids, steroids, and cardiac glycosides. (see study)

– Crude ethanolic extract of roots yielded high flavonoid and tannins content (244.29 mg/g of quercetin equivalent and 84.59 mg of tannic acid equivalent respectively). (see study)

Medicinal properties of bottle gourd

– Fruit considered antibiotic, antidote, aphrodisiac, cardiotonic, cardioprotective, diuretic, febrifuge, lithotriptic, poultice, purgative, vermifuge.

– Studies have reported cardiotonic, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, antihyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Parts utilized

Pulp, fruit, shoots, leaves, seeds.

Edibility / Nutrition

– One of the commonest vegetables raised in the Asia.

– Flesh is white and soft, boiled and seasoned or used in stews or with fish.

– Pulp is an ingredient in many confections.

– Fruit is a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B.

– In West Tropical Africa, young shoots, leaves, and flower buds used as vegetable.

– Shoots boiled with milk or coconut milk to reduce the unpleasant flavor.

– Young fruits should be consumed within 2 weeks after harvest. Longer storage causes rapid water loss.

– In Japan, long strips of fruit skin are boiled, soaked in soya sauce with a little sugar, and used as sushi ingredient.

Folkloric traditional remedies and uses of bottle gourd

– Young shoots and leaves used for enema.

– Pulp used as purgative adjunct; also used for coughs, asthma, and poison antidote.

– Green fruit in syrup used as a pectoral.

– Leaf juice or sugared decoction used as emetic. Also used in jaundice.

– Crushed leaves used for baldness; applied to the head for headaches.

– Seeds also used as antihelminthic.

– Juice of fruit used for stomach acidity, indigestion and ulcers.

– Poultice of seeds used for boils.

– In the Gold Coast young shoots and leaves used for enema.

– Pulp occasionally used as a adjunct to purgatives. Also used in coughs, and as antidote to certain poisons.

– Externally the pulp is applied as a poultice and cooling preparation to the shaved head in cases of delirium and applied to the soles in burning of the feet.

– Seed oil used as emollient application to the head and as a means of relieving headache. Oil also administered internally.

– In China, used for diabetes.

Other uses

– The dry shell of the fruit used for domestic utensils, bowls, pipes, bottles, horns or musical instruments.

– Half-fruit shell used as a hat.

– In Kenya, the Luo make a large bugle from the bottle gourds, blown during ceremonies and chasing away animals. Also used for smoking cannabis.

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of bottle gourd or white pumkin

Diuretic / Fruit:

Study of the juice extract and methanol extract of LS showed significantly significant diuretic potential, comparable to that of furosemide.


Study of the methanolic extracts of the fruit of LS showed significant dose-dependent delayed hypersensitivity reaction in rats with increase in white cell and lymphocyte count. Results suggest a promising immunomodulatory activity.


Study of fruit extract of L siceraria significantly reduced the total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides and suggests a potential household remedy for hyperlipidemia.


Study of methanolic extract of L siceraria demonstrated an antihyperlipidemic potential with significant elevation of HDl cholesterol. Results also provided a valid scientific basis for consumption for the treatment of coronary heart diseases in India.

Phytochemicals / Antihyperlipidemic:

Study revealed the presence of flavonoids, sterols, cucurbitacin saponins, polyphenolics, proteins and carbohydrates. Results marked hypolipidemic and antihyperlipidemic activity of the extracts.

Anthelmintic/ remove parasitic worms:

In a study using Pheretima posthuma as test worms, the methanol and benzene extracts significantly demonstrated paralysis and death of worms, compared to a standard of Piperazine. Results confirm the traditional use of the seeds of the plant as an antihelmintic.

Antioxidant / Fruits:

Results showed that fresh fruit extract exhibited higher DPPH radical scavenging activity than other samples. Both fresh and dried fruits may give relatively similar antioxidant effects.

Study on the free radical scavenging activity of ethanolic extract of fruits showed IC50 values of 1.95 mg/mL on DPPH and 19 mg/mL on ABTS assays.

Antioxidant / Biologic Activities:

Extract was found effective as hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antihyperglycemic, immunomodulatory, antihyperlipidemic and cardiotonic. The various biologic activities may be due to the radical scavenging capacity of L siceraria.

Antioxidant / Seeds:

Study showed an ethanolic seed extract to possess significant antioxidant activity and a potential source as an excellent natural antioxidant.

Anthelmintic / Antimicrobial:

Study of extracts of leaves showed significant dose-dependent anthelmintic activity against earthworm Pheretima posthuma and tapeworm. Extracts also showed moderate antibacterial and antifungal activity against the microorganisms tested.

Anti-Urolithiatic/ preventing formation of urinary calculi:

Study of fruit powder of Lagenaria siceraria against sodium oxalate-induced urolithiasis in rats showed a beneficial anti-urolithiatic effect probably by decreasing CaOx excretion and preventing crystal deposition in the kidney tubules.

Central Nervous System Effects:

Study evaluated the analgesic and CNS depressant effects of extracts of leaves. A petroleum ether extract showed maximum analgesia compared to the methanol and chloroform extracts. The extracts Inhibited both central and peripheral mechanisms of pain. n the study on CNS-depressant effect, the methanolic extract showed significant reduction of spontaneous motor activity, with potentiation of pentobarbitone-induced sleep time.

Cardioprotective/ good for heart:

Treatment with Ls fruit juice showed a cardioprotective effect in isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction in rats.

Hepatoprotective / good for liver health/ Antioxidant:

Study in carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity showed potent hepatoprotective activity of a methanol extract probably attributable to its significant free radical scavenging activity and high polyphenolic and flavonoid contents.

Anti-Compulsive (Anti-OCD) Activity / Fruits:

Study evaluated the anti-OCD activity of methanolic extract of fruits suing the marble-burying behavior in mice. Results showed dose-dependent attenuation of marble-burying behavior, an effect comparable to the standard reference drug, fluoxetine.

Analgesic / helps in pain relief/ Fruits:

Study evaluated the analgesic activity of extracts of fruits of Lagenaria siceraria using the tail immersion method in rats. A methanolic extract exhibited moderate activity while an aqueous extract showed significant analgesic activity.

Antioxidant / Leaves:

Study evaluating a methanolic extract of leaves of L. siceraria for antioxidant activity by H2O2, radical scavenging, and DPPH assay. In all the studies, a significant correlation was shown between concentration and percentage inhibition of free radicals.

Antioxidant / Leaves:

Study evaluated a methanolic extract of aerial parts through acute and subchronic toxicity studies in mice. Results showed the extract was well tolerated up to 2 g/kg in acute toxicity study, with no significant alteration on any of the parameters in subchronic study. Also, there was improvement in the lipid profile of the test group.

Lipid Lowering and Antioxidant Functions in Human Dyslipidemia / Fruit:

Study of fruit extract showed significant antioxidant activity in dyslipidemic human subjects. Significant reductions were found in triglycerides and total cholesterol values, with improvement in cardiac risk ratio, atherogenic coefficient, and atherogenicity index of plasma.

Effect on Lung Injury Induced by Oleic Acid/ Fruit Juice:

Study of L. siceraria fruit juice on acute lung injury induced by oleic acid in rats showed attenuation of the extent of injury.

Antimutagenic Potential / Anticancer:

Study evaluated a methanolic extract of fruit for antimutagenic potential. Results showed varying levels of antimutagenicity, with chemopreventive pharmacological potential and suggests its use as functional food.

Protection Against Doxorubicin Cardiotoxicity:

Study on the combined effect of simvastatin and seed extract of L. siceraria showed significant reduction of doxorubicin (DOX) induced cardiotoxicity in Wister rats.

Antioxidant and Metal Chelating:

Study evaluated the antioxidant and total phenolic and flavonoid content of various parts of LS (peel, pulp, and aerial parts). Results showed maximum phenol and flavonoid content in acetone and toluene extracts. The peel showed maximum FRAP and stronger DPPH activity.

Hepatoprotective / Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory:

Biologically total alcoholic or petroleum ether extract aerial parts of LS exhibited significant hepatoprotective activity against acetaminophen hepatotoxicity. The PE extract exhibited promising anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in animal models.

Cardioprotective / Fruits and Fruit Juice:

Study evaluated the in vivo cardioprotective potential of Lagenaria siceraria fruits on isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction in Wistar albino rats. The fruit extract showed cardioprotective activity against ISO-induced myocardial injury with significant increase in the number of viable cells, prevention of DNA fragmentation and decrease number of apoptotic cells.

Study showed the protective effect of Lagenaria siceraria fruit juice during isoproterenol induced myocardial infarction and associated oxidative stress in rats.

Fibrinolytic /prevents blood clots from growing and becoming problematic/ Kaempferol / Fruit:

Study evaluated the in vitro fibrinolytic potential of kaempferol, a flavonol isolated from the fruits of L. siceraria. Results suggests fibrinolytic activity and found the percentage fribinolytic activity of the extract and compound to be 54.72±0.7210 and 77.37±1.3010, respectively.

Antimicrobial / Leaves:

In a study of leaf extracts for antimicrobial activity, the acetone, methanol, alcohol and distilled water extracts showed significant activity against all test organisms (E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, B. subtilis, and C. albicans).


Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of various solvent extracts of different parts of Lagenaria siceraria against five Gm-, five Gm+, and four fungi. All parts showed varying levels of antimicrobial activity, with better antifungal than antibacterial activity, better gram negative activity to gram positive activity. The peel showed lowest MIC and MBC indicating therapeutic value of agro waste material.

Anti-Thrombotic / Inhibition of Platelet Aggregation / Fruits:

Study investigated the mechanistic antithrombotic potential and antiplatelet activity of ethanolic extract of fruits in different in vivo and in vitro models in mice. Results showed significant antithrombotic potential due to inhibition of ADP-mediated platelet aggregation and the involvement of various on-cellular chemical mediators of blood.

Anti-Inflammatory / Roots:

Study of crude ethanolic extract of roots showed significant anti-inflammatory activity both in carrageenan and histamine-induced edema test models in rats, with the results comparing favorably with the indomethacin treated animal models.

Anti-Diabetic / Pulp and Seed:

Study of L. siceraria pulp extract and seed extract showed therapeutic protective effect in diabetes by preserving pancreatic cell integrity in alloxan induced diabetic rats.

Antihyperglycemic / Aerial Parts:

Study of a methanol extract of aerial parts of L. siceraria in STZ-induced diabetes in rats showed potent antihyperglycemic activity with significant improvement in antioxidant and biochemical parameters. Effect is probably attributable to its rich flavonoid content.

Benefits of Juice as Nutraceutical:

Study evaluated the beneficial effect of bottle gourd juice on biochemical parameters of normal healthy subjects when given daily at fasting state for three months. Results showed improvement in TG, HDL and VLDL level, with a decrease in risk ration for heart disease, a 3.9% reduction in blood glucose level, and a marked improvement in antioxidant status Findings suggest LSFE may act as a nutraceutical for disease prevention.

Protective Effect in Induced Memory and Learning Deficits:

Study evaluated the protective effect of ethanolic extract of L. siceraria fruit against aluminum chloride induced cognitive impairment and biochemical alterations in experimental animal model. Study showed chronic administration of the fruit extract can prevent aluminum induced cognitive impairment and oxidative stress.

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