Winter Melon Health Benefits, Medicinal Use, Side Effects

Winter Melon or Ash gourd  is one of the best vegetable as well as a medicine. It is packed with phyto-nutrients and medicinal values. It is used for weight gain therapy, to improve intelligence and so on. In Indian system of medicine, it is hailed as the best among all the fruit-yielding creeper plants. It is called Kushmanda in Sanskrit. It is also used in spiritual practices in some parts of India.

winter melon

Botanical name: Benincasa cerifera  or Benincasa hispida.
Family: Cucurbitaceae

Vernacular names, Sanskrit synonyms

English names: Winter melon, White gourd, Ash gourd
Hindi name: Petha, Rukasaa, Bhatuvaa,
Telugu name:  Boodida Gummadi, Gummadi
Bengali name: Kumada
Marathi name: Kohala
Tamil name: Pusinikkai
Malayalam name: Kumbalam
Kannada name: Boodu Kumbala Kai / Kayi
Parsi name: Vaduba
Arabian name: Mahadab

Sanskrit synonyms:
KushmandaThe seed does not have hotness (Ku Nasti Ushma Andeshu Beejeshy yasya sa – Amarakosha)
Pushpaphala – fruits and flowers are present in the creeper vine at the same time.
Valliphala – fruit yielding creeper.

Distribution, classical categorization

Distribution: It is cultivated in almost all parts of India.
Classical categorization: All text books have categorized it under Phala varga (group of fruits)

Medicinal properties

Rasa (Taste): Madhura (sweet)
Guna (qualities): Laghu (light to digest), Snigdha (unctuous, oily)
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion): Madhura (sweet)
Veerya (potency): Sheeta (cold)
Effect on Tridosha: Balances Pitta, Vata
Prabhava (special effect): Medhya – improves intelligence

Ash gourd benefits
Winter melon benefits

Ash gourd benefits

Mutraghatahara – helps in easy passing of urine
Pramehashamanam – useful in diabetes, urinary tract disorders
Mutrakruchrahara – Useful in dysuria
Ashmarichedana – Useful in urinary calculi. Helps to break into pieces
Vinmutra glapanam – helps to increase the bulk of urine and faeces
Trushartishamanam – relieves thirst and related pain
Jeernangapushtidam – nourishes the worn out body parts. Helps to improve body mass. Helps to gain weight.
Vrushyam – Aphrodisiac
Arochakahara – relieves anorexia
Balya – improves strength and immunity
Bruhmana – helps to gain weight, provides nutrition
Pittasranut – useful in bleeding disorders due to Pitta imbalance, such as menorrhagia, bleeding per rectum, nasal bleeding etc.
Vatanut – balances Vata
Bastishuddhikara – cleanses bladder
Chetorogahrut – relieves excessive tiredness
The unripe winter melon helps to balance Pitta.
Mid-ripe winter melon is coolant and increases Kapha.
Old winter melon (Fully ripe), is not so coolant, sweet, alkaline, easy to digest and improves digestion strength.

Ash gourd seed oil has similar effects to those of the fruit.

Part used, Dosage

Part used: Fruit, seed, seed oil
Dosage:
Fruit – It is used as vegetable.
Seed powder – 3 – 6 grams
Seed oil – 5 ml

Spiritual significance

Spiritual practice with ash gourd: 
To symbolize evil power destruction, camphor is lit on the ash gourd fruit and after Arati (circular rotation to the Diety, symbolizing zero-ness (ego-less), ash gourd is usually shattered into pieces by pounding it on to the ground.
This ritual is done on many festivals, usually during inauguration of new buildings, new business, during Lakshmi Pooja etc.

Side effects

In obese people, it should be used for a limited period, in minimal dose.
It increases Kapha, hence it is not ideal to use this in winter and whenever someone has cold, asthma or bronchitis.
However, it is very useful in post tuberculosis recuperation period. It improves weight.
If it is sweet, it is not ideal during indigestion.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicine with Ash gourd as ingredient:
Kushmanda Rasayana – Useful in bleeding disorders, to improve body weight and to relieve emaciation.
Sri Gopal Taila – useful to improve strength of nerves and muscles

Use in Worship

In Hindu custom, during festivals or inauguration of office, Pooja of vehicles etc, it is a common practice to break ash gourd in front of office or vehicle. It is a symbolic sacrifice to avoid bad incidents in future.

Amla Navami
Amla Navami (Awla navami) is the 9th day of Karthika Month of Hindu calendar. It is between October – november. It is the same month in which Deepavali – festival of light is celebrated.
During this day, Amla tree is worshipped along with friends and family. This festival is also known as Akshaya Navami. It is more celebrated in mid and northen part of India.
This worship is conducted to seek blessings to beget children and family peace.
This is the date in which God Sri Krishna stopped all the childhood activities. This date is when the Dwapara Yug started. This is the date in which God Vishnu killed a demon called Kushmandaka. For this reason, during this festival, Kushmanda (Ash gourd) is distributed for free to all. Amla itself is considered as God Vishnu. Hence, worship is offered to this tree.

20 thoughts on “Winter Melon Health Benefits, Medicinal Use, Side Effects”

  1. How is this consumed? Raw pieces? Raw juice? Cooked vegetable (like Lauki)?

    Is this very different from Lauki (bottle gourd) as far as general effects are concerned?

    Reply
      • Winter melon, fried in ghee and baked a little with sugar candy / sugar can be used as part of diet in your son as a dietary support for epilepsy.

        Reply
  2. thank you MR hebbar for providing information about kooshmanda (booda kumballakaai).
    its said it will increase body weight but it doesnt has fat in it how can it. will the body weight increases in terms of water content?

    Reply
    • It does not increase the weight by increasing water content.
      It increases weight by improving the absorption of nutrients by stomach and intestines.

      Reply
  3. I am so grateful to have come across your detailed article about this vegetable. I dont like it much but now that I am respinsible to provide my child a nutritious diet, I try to read the benefits of all vegetables that I am not fond of so that I cook them and eat and serve them to my family anyway. I am wondering if there is any article about how to prevent or arrest tremendous hairfall and premature graying post pregnancy, because I see links to articles about skincare. If there are such articles kindly provide the link. Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Thanks! Please read here – easyayurveda.com/2014/08/06/ayurvedic-hair-care-principles-herbs-oils-medicines/

      Reply
  4. I have personally seen people lose weight by drinking winter melon juice everyday without changing their daily diet. How is that possible if this is true.

    Reply
  5. Is there any risk or precautions need to be taken before consuming raw ash gourd juice? I seen some article on the internet which says that bottle gourd need to be discarded if it is bitter..Does Ash gourd have any similar problem?

    Reply
    • Hi, if the quality of ash gourd is good, without worm infestation, well grown, etc, then there are no such precautions. However, it is best to try a trial dose of 10 ml, wait for one hour to see any reactions such as skin allergy bloating etc and then only go ahead.

      Reply
    • Sir, It is Jeernangapushtidam – nourishes the worn out body parts. Helps to improve body mass. Bruhmana – helps to gain weight, provides nutrition

      Reply
  6. Sir
    Is there any difference in qualities as far as different parts of the ashgoard is concerned because the smooth white portion underneath the peel has a different texture than the white soft pulpy central portion amid which the seeds are interspersed. I have observed that the central spongy portion on grinding yeilds a lot more lather than the outer pulp. That’s why I suspect some change in properties. Please advise.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Respected Sir
    Isn’t consuming just 10-20 grams of pulp too little a quantity. At the end of the day it is almost a vegetable. I drink a glass(250 ml) of juice made out of its pulp weighing 500 grams. Am I crossing the limits ?

    Reply

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