Medicinal Wonders of Ivy Gourd

Ivy Gourd is a unique tropical plant which grows well in India. Classified as a medicinal herb in Ayurveda medicine, Ivy gourd grows quickly as trailing vines. It has ivy like leaves, white flowers and a small white gourd which turns red and sweet when ripe.


Photo courtesy from Flickr
Ivy Gourd (Coccinea indica, Cephalandra indica or Coccinea grandis) is known by different regional names in different parts of India.

Siddha System of Medicine and Ivy Gourd
Siddha system of medicine is one of the most ancient and spiritual systems whose history dates back to 12,000 years before Christ. Its formulations are still confined to Tamil Nadu as the origin of this medicine goes back to ancient Tamil Nadu.

According to Siddha system of medicine, Ivy Gourd is a medicinal herb with cool potency; good for fever, skin diseases and diabetes. The various Siddha medicinal uses are:

  • Leaf paste applied all over the body to induce perspiration, in order to bring down body temperature in fever.
  • The leaves are soaked in coconut oil and kept in sun for 3 days. The oil is then applied on skin for treatment of various fungal infections (scabies) and other skin diseases.
  • The leaves ground with butter and applied on skin is also useful in scabies (a contagious skin infection caused by a mite which causes itching and redness) treatment.
  • Tender raw fruits are munched for treatment of oral ulcers.
  • Juice of the root is given in a dose of 5 to 15 ml twice a day in the treatment of diabetes. This can be used along with other medications being taken for diabetes.

Traditional Practices and Ivy Gourd
Ivy gourd has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurveda herbalism. Ivy gourd, most commonly known as kundru, grows wildly in most parts of India and is also cultivated to some extent in certain parts of India.
The whole plant has been traditionally used for various medicinal purposes, and the leaves in particular have been used in folk medicine for the treatment of a number of ailments including diabetes, wounds, ulcers, inflammations, skin problems, fever asthma and cough.

The different medicinal utilities of Ivy gourd are attributed to its various parts such as leaves, fruits, root and stem. Some household uses and remedies of different part of Ivy Gourd are:
Leaves: Leaves have been used in

  • Skin diseases such as ring worm, itching, skin eruptions as seen in small pox, scabies.
  • Sinus which has been there for a long time
  • Various gastro-intestinal disturbances
  • Causing cooling effects to the eyes
  • In fever to alleviate body temperature
  • Gonorrhea
  • Diabetes or increased glucose in urine
  • Expectorant
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Problems related with respiratory tract

Fruit: The fruits have been known to cure

  • Sores on tongue
  • Eczema

Stem: Stems have been used as home remedy for treatment of

  • Asthma and bronchitis
  • Diabetes and increased blood in urine (a condition known as glycosuria)
  • Gastro-intestinal disturbance
  • Skin disease
  • Urinary tract infection

Roots: Roots of Ivy gourd have been shown to be useful in the treatment of

  • Joint pains
  • Painful mouth ulcers
  • Wheezing and phlegm
  • Skin diseases
  • Diabetes and glycosuria

Modern Therapy and Ivy Gourd
In modern practices extracts from various parts of the plant have been shown to possess effective hepatoprotective (liver protective), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, antibacterial and antitussive (Medicine used to suppress or relieve coughing) properties.

The leaves, fruits, stems and leaves of Ivy gourd have chemicals that are known to bring about various biological effects of Ivy gourd. Different extracts from various plant parts have different chemical constituents that cause various biological activities such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic (any medicine that lowers fever) and analgesic (medicine that reduces pain) effects
  • Anti-ulcer and anti-oxidant properties in the leaf extract
  • Antimicrobial activity of fruit extract against bacteria.
  • Leaf extract is effective against malarial parasites
  • Leaf extracts of Ivy Gourd inhibit the growth of fungi and thus act as anti-fungal agents.
  • Whole plant of Ivy gourd is helpful as anti-stress and anti-oxidant medicinal herb.
  • Almost all parts of the plant have shown antidiabetic effect.
  • Whole plant of Ivy Gourd is known to cause a lowering of sugar and lipid fats from the blood.
  • The plant of Ivy Gourd has enormous therapeutic potential and scientists are actively involved in discovering new drugs from Ivy gourd.

Ivy Gourd and Diabetes
Ivy Gourd has been used in healing diabetes in Ayurveda, folklore medicine as well as in modern system of medicine. It is known to mimic insulin in its activity in lowering blood glucose level in the body. The magnitude with which the herb is known to bring down sugar levels is at par with other standard diabetic drugs.

Ivy Gourd as Health Food
It is promoted as a health food in many parts of India because of its high content of Vitamins. All these vitamins are vital for the human body, and help strengthen the immune system.
It is rich in Vitamin C, which helps in strengthening the bones. It has β-carotene in it which is a precursor of Vitamin A in body. It also contains Vitamin B1 and B2.

It is also good to take Ivy Gourd as part of meals during fever.
There are a variety of recipes all over the world that use Ivy Gourd as one of its ingredients such as Thai, Indonesian and other South East Asian cuisines. In India, It is a widely used as a vegetable and is mostly consumed in the form of curry by deep frying it, or stuffing it with spices and then sautéing it or boiling and then frying it.

Formulations Available in Market
There are a few formulations of Ivy Gourd presently in market which are used in diabetes, urinary tract infections and as diet supplements. Ivy Gourd is one of the major herbs present in the currently marketed antidiabetic formulations.

  • Mersina capsules: It is a polyherbal capsule which has 93 mg of Coccinea indica. It is effective in control of Type II Diabetes. Recommended doses are 1-2 capsules half an hour before lunch, dinner or breakfast.
  • Diasulin capsules: It is a polyherbal capsule, which is given as supportive therapy for treatment of Type I and II Diabetes, and as an antioxidant. Recommended dose is 2-3 capsules daily before meals, for a period of 3 months.
  • Ivy Gourd extract tablets: from Source Naturals is used in maintaining blood glucose levels in the body, and also as a supplement for Vitamin A.
  • Full Spectrum Coccinea cordifolia (Ivy Gourd) capsules: It is a fruit extract used as dietary supplement to support metabolic health and regulatory support. Recommended dose is 1 capsule daily.

References
1. Rastogi RP, Mehrotra BN Compendium of Indian medicinal plants, Central Drug Research Institute, India, 1998, Vol 1, 115.
2. Simopoulos AP, Gopalam C (eds): Plants in human health and nutrition policy. World Rev Nutr Diet, Basel, Karger, 2003, Vol 91, 60-66.

Author: Pooja S. Banerjee

A pharmacist by profession,Pooja has research experience in the field of herbal medicine and medicinal chemistry. She has also authored many International and National research and review papers in peer reviewed journals. Her passion for writing has made her foray into the world of medical writing. She writes travel blogs for creative satisfaction.

Comments

  1. This is one vegetable that I like, and now I know the real benefits of it.
    (one caution for those who handle it in the kitchen: while cutting care should be taken as the secretion from the vegetable can stain your clothes)

  2. Ivy Gourd says:

    Couple of years back one of my Indian friend cooked this Ivy Gourd curry, it was delicious. I should try to find where it is available and cook it myself. I didn’t see it in farmer’s market. Do you know where I can buy the Ivy Gourd?

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