Bottle gourd (Kaddu, lauki, doodhi and Ghia in Hindi) is a member of gourd family. It is commonly used as a vegetable. This hairy climber grows up to a height of 30 feet, has a green, ridged stem and bears five lobed leaves. It has large yellow flowers followed by long fruits ranging from few inches to few feet, with green skin, white flesh and many white seeds embedded in pulp. It is a native of Africa but also cultivated in regions with a warm climate such India, Sri Lanka, China, and Indonesia.
Chemical composition: Bottle gourd is 96% water. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and calcium, vitamins B1 and C and fiber.
Medical benefits: Bottle gourd is used in curries, soups, and vegetables. It makes for a low fat and low calorie diet. Due to the high water content, it is alkaline and diuretic in nature. It reduces acidity, flatulence and thirst caused by sweating and dehydration. It contains high amounts of fiber, which helps reduce constipation, lowers cholesterol, helps in diabetes, reduces blood pressure and is beneficial for heart disease. It is good for pregnant women as it is easily digestible, reduces heartburn and fatigue, quenches thirst, controls weight, maintains blood pressure, reduces anaemia, acidity and constipation. It is easily digested and therefore recommended for patients recovering from fever or illness, and those who have low immunity and weak digestion.
Drinking a glass of bottle gourd juice in the morning with lime juice helps in treating urinary disorders, such as the burning sensation in urine, removing kidney stones, reducing obesity, leucorrhoea, flatulence and acidity. Bottle gourd juice mixed with some apple juice reduces anaemia and is therefore prescribed for pregnant women. A massage using equal amounts of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil on the scalp is helpful in treating insomnia. A little salt mixed with bottle gourd juice has a cooling effect. It reduces dehydration and maintains electrolyte balance caused by diarrhoea or excessive sweating.
Contraindications: Always consume seasonal bottle gourd. Taste before using the gourd; gourd tasting bitter should never be consumed as they produce toxins and cause liver and kidney damage.
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