Bottle gourd or calabash is a climber which is described in ayurveda for the treatment of jaundice, diabetes, localized swelling and skin diseases. It is also used to induce purgation and emesis (Panchakarma treatment). It is known by the terms Lauki, Louki in Hindi.
Latin name- Lagenaria siceraria Standl.
Lagenaria leucantha (equated with sweet bottle guard) and Lagenaria vulgaris are the previously used Latin names for the herb katutumbi.
Names in different languages:
Hindi name- Titalouki, Kadavi louki, Lauki
English name- Bottle gourd, Long melon, Calabash, white-flowered gourd, Bitter calbash gourd
Bengali Name- Titlaou, Ladu
Gujarati Name- Kadavi tumbadi, Dudhi, Tumada
Kannada Name- Sorekai, Sorekayi
Telugu name- Sorekaya, Sorakkaya
Manipuri name – Khongdrum
Marathi name – Dudhi
Tamil name – Surakkai
Malayalam name – Pechura
Urdu name – Lauki
Katutumbi is more popularly known as Ikshvaku in Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia. It is a climber which is abundantly found all over India in temperate climate. The fruit is bitter in taste and used for medicinal purpose. Another variety of this plant, in which the fruit is little sweet, is cultivated for its vegetable use. It is popularly known as ‘Louki’ in Hindi language and used for many culinary purposes.
Synonyms of Louki in Sanskrit:
Pinda phala- Fruit is spherical in shape
Tikta beeja, Tiktalabu- The fruit is bitter in taste
Mahaphala- Fruit grows to a big size
Ikshvaku, Tumbi, Lamba, Katutumbi, Rajaputri, Tumbika,
Classical categorization of Ikshvaku / Katutumbi:
Charaka samhita- Vamana and Phalini
Sushruta samhita- Urdhwabaga hara
Bhavaprakasha- Shaka varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu- Guduchyadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Oushadhi varga
Raja Nighantu- Guduchyadi varga
Scientific classification of Bottle gourd
Species: L. siceraria
Types of Alabu depending on the shape :
Deerga alabu – Elongated
Vrintha alabu – Spherical.
Properties, part used, dosage
Lauki, calabash medicinal properties:
Rasa (Taste) – Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
Veerya (Potency) – Sheeta (Cold)
Vipaka- Katu (Undergoes Pungent taste after digestion)
Karma (Action) – Balances Vata and Pitta
Vamaka (Induces emesis), Ahrdya (Not good for the heart muscles), Vishagna (reduces poisonous effect)
Part used- Root, Leaf, Fruit
Dosage- Fresh juice 10-20 ml.
Lagenaria siceraria chemical constituents:
The bitter fruit of bottle guard contains 0.013% of cucurbitacin B and aglycones. The fruit juice contains beta- glycosidase. The leaves and root of the plant contains cucurbitacin B. The seed contains avenasterol and codisterol. Palmitic acid, Stearic acid, Iinobic & obic acids are found in seed oil.
Uses of katutumbi
- Nasal drops are indicated of katutumbi leaves to treat jaundice and sinusitis.
- The fresh juice of Lagenaria siceraria is used for mouth wash and gargling to treat dental caries.
- The medicated oil prepared from the leaves and root of katutumbi plant is used for external application to treat skin diseases, localized swelling and wounds.
- The fruit, leaves and root of Lagenaria siceraria is used to induce emesis and purgation as part of panchakarma proceedures in Ayurveda.
- The paste of the leaves of the plant is applied over the affected area due to insect bites along with pain and itching sensation.
- The decoction of the leaves and fruit is given 20-25 ml in divided dose to treat infections and skin diseases due to blood impurity.
- The decoction of the fruit and leaves in a dose of 15-20 ml is given in empty stomach to treat intestinal worms.
- The sweet variety of the fruit is used as vegetable in different culinary.
Ayurvedic uses of Lauki – Bottlegourd
Vamani – induces vomiting
Vatapittajit – Balances Vata and Pitta
Ahrudya – not good for heart
Sheetala – coolant
Indicated in –
Kasa – cough, cold
Shwasa – asthma and chronic respiratory disorders
Jvara – fever
Visha – Toxic conditions, poisoning, insect bite etc.
Shopha – inflammation
Vrana – Ulcers, wounds
Shoola – abdominal colic pain
Leaves of bottlegourd –
Madhura – sweet
Pittaghna – Pittahara – useful in Pitta imbalance disorders such as gastritis, burning sensation, etc.
Mutrashodhana – cleanses urinary bladder
Side effects of Iksvaku:
Contraindicated persons to consume katutumbi (Bitter variety): People suffering from cardiac diseases should avoid taking katutumbi or its formulations as katutumbi cause emesis and purgation, during which it can exert more pressure on the cardiac muscles. Children, old age people and pregnant women also should avoid consuming kautumbi.
Read related: 6 Bottle Gourd Remedies For Gall Bladder, Conjunctivitis, Fatigue
Bottle gourd is used in a method of bloodletting therapy called Alabu Avacharana.
Interaction with medicines, supplements
Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.
this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets,
Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurvedic medicines containing Lauki as ingredient:
Maha vishagarbha Taila: It is a medicated ayurvedic oil used for external application in the treatment of sciatica, pain in major joints of the body, vata dosha related stiffness and pain in the body.
In Charaka Samhita Kalpasthana, Acharya Charaka has mentioned about some of the formulations, which can be prepared to induce emesis and purgation.
Research articles on katutumbi (Bottle gourd)
Multiple health benefits: The plant is used as a medicine as cardio-tonic, diuretic activity. Further it is used to treat pain, ulcer, fever, and respiratory disorders. In some countries it is traditionally used to treat diabetes.
Natural guard against diseases: The fruit of the plant helps in treating constipation, premature graying of hair, insomnia, increased blood pressure. It also helps in improving the memory, reducing weight and treating ulcers.
The effect of the petroleum ether extract of seeds of Lagenaria siceraria was evaluated in experimental models of pain and inflammation. The seed extract at 200 & 400 mg/ml showed significant decrease in acetic acid writhing in mice with a maximum of 32 % at 200 mg/ml & 58 % at 400 mg/ml. The anti-inflammatory effects observed with the extract were comparable to that of standard. There was significant anti-ulcerogenic property.
Anti- depressant activity: LS fruit slices were dried and extracted with methanol in Soxhlet apparatus for 5-6 h. Adult Wistar albino rats were subjected to behavior despair test. Imipramine was used as reference standard drug.
The MLSF (50, 100, and 200 mg/kg, p.o.) showed dose-dependent significant reduction in duration of immobility (P < 0.01) in behavior despair test.
Anti- diabetic activity: Lagenaria siceraria induced significant reduction in blood glucose and increasing of serum insulin, our data indicate that the level of glucose in the animals that were subjected with alloxan was 210 mg/dl comparing with normal 70 mg/dl, the level of blood glucose in diabetic group when subjected with Lagenaria siceraria extract decreased to 89-106.5 mg/dl. These findings suggest that LSPE and LSSE treatment exerts therapeutic protective effect in diabetes by preserving pancreatic cell integrity and significant activity extract, which supports traditional usage of the plant to prevent diabetic complications.
Author: Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
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