Phytopharmacological Profile of Lagenaria siceraria: A Review
Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standl. (Bottle gourd), of the family Cucurbitaceae, is a climbing perennial plant widely cultivated as a vegetable crop in tropical countries, such as India, Japan and Thailand. Fruits of which are widely used in Ayurveda and other folk medicines traditionally used for its cardioprotective, cardiotonic, general tonic, diuretic, aphrodisiac, antidote to certain poisons, scorpion strings, alternative purgative and cooling effects. It cures pain, ulcers and fever and used for pectoral cough, asthma and other bronchial disorders-especially syrup prepared from the tender fruits. The fruit is reported to contain the triterepeniode cucurbitacins B, D, G, H and 22-deoxy cucurbitacin the bitter principle of cucurbitaceae. Two sterols i.e., fucosterol and campesterol, aerpene byonolic acid (an allergic compound), flavone-C glycosides, a ribosome inactivating protein), Lagenin, (antiproliferative, immunosuppressive, antifertility). This study is an attempt to compile an up-to-date and comprehensive review of Lagenaria siceraria that covers its traditional and folk medicinal uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology.
April 25, 2010; Accepted: May 18, 2010;
Published: June 02, 2010
Cucurbitaceae family is commonly mentioned as the gourd, melon or pumpkin family,
is medium sized generally a climbing plants family, composing 118 genera and
825 species having wide distribution in the warmer regions of the world. The
plants of which provide the major contribution for economically important domesticated
species and many of these are earliest cultivated plants and are used for medicinal
and nutritional values (Habib-ur-Rahaman, 2003). Among
all plants of the cucurbitaceae family, Lagenaria species have important
contribution for the overall popularity. The bottle gourd belongs to the genus
Lagenaria that is derived from lagena, meaning, bottle. In the older
literature it is often referred to as Lagenaria vulgaris (common) or
Lagenaria leucantha (white flowered gourd) but it is now generally agreed
that the correct name is Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standl. It seems
that bottle gourd was originated from India because its wild races are still
found in Dehradoon (high humid area) and Malabar costal area. Old Indian script
reveals its cultivation 2000 B.C. Archeological supports mans association
with bottle gourd in Peru from 1100 to 13000 years B.C. (Sirohi
and Sivakami, 1991).
Bottle gourd (syn. white flowered gourd) is an important warm-season fruit vegetable. It is grown throughout India and its fruits are available in the market throughout the year. Bottle gourd has been found wild in India, the Moluccas and Ethiopia. The centre of origin has been located as the coastal areas of Malabar (North Kerala) and the humid forests of Dehradun (North India). The fossil records indicate its culture in India even before 2000 B.C. The archaeological evidences suggest that Lagenaria is not a monotypic genus and has an ancient pan tropical distribution.
Occurrence of considerable diversity in the morphology of fruits in the archaeological
sites suggested a steady influx of new germplasm from outside the immediate
area. Genus Lagenaria to which bottle gourd belongs is characterized
by key characters-fruits fleshy and many seeded pepo, flowers solitary and chalky
white. Both the male ad female flowers open at the same time. Male flowers remain
open only for a few hours, after word the petals withered, thus the flowers
are short lived. Being a monoecious crop, bottle gourd is strictly cross pollinated.
Bees are the major pollinators (Decker-Walter et al.,
2004; Heiser, 1979a, b; Sivaraj
and Pandravada, 2005).
Lagenaria siceraria commonly known as Bottle gourd Syn. Doodhi, Syn
Lauki (Hindi), Kadoo (Marathi) which is official in Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia.
It is one of the excellent fruit for human being made and gifted by the nature
having composition of all the essential constituents that are required for normal
and good human health (Habib-ur-Rahaman, 2003). Its
time to turn camera on overall constituents and character of Lagenaria siceraria
fruit for the better human health and lives. Two varieties of this fruit
drug sweet and bitter are mentioned. Botanically, both belong to same genus,
the former known by the Sanskrit synonym Alaba and Tumbi and latter by
the names as Iksuaku, Katutumbi and Mahaphala. The sweet variety is generally
used as a vegetable, while the wild variety bitter, latter is preferred for
the medicinal use. The former variety is cultivated widely for its fruit and
vegetable. The latter is found wild previously in most areas but now in some
hot areas of country, obviously as wild and has bitter fruits and preferred
for medicinal use. Nevertheless, the difficulty in procuring and loosing interest
in cultivation of wild variety, the sweet and edible variety is now being used
in medicine as well (Sivarajan and Balchandran, 1996).
Transverse section of Lagenaria siceraria leaf showed upper epidermis consists of elongated parenchymatous cells, covered by cuticle. It shows few stomata, which are of anisocytic type. Palisade cells are present at upper and lower epidermis. It shows hexagonal to polygonal, large, thin walled colourless cells, may be water storing.
Mesophyll is made up of 3-4 layered chloroplast containing, compactly arranged, oval to circular cells. It is interrupted by vascular bundles of various sizes.
Vascular bundles are surrounded by 2-3 layered sclerenchyma. They are conjoint,
collateral and closed. Xylem is placed towards upper epidermis and phloem towards
lower epidermis. Lower epidermis contains elongated wavy walled parenchymatous
cells covered by cuticle. Number of covering and collapsed trichomes are present,
while very few glandular trichomes are also present (Shah
and Seth, 2010).
Lagenaria siceraria fruits are traditionally used for its cardioprotective,
cardiotonic, general tonic, diuretic, aphrodisiac, antidote to certain poisons,
scorpion strings, alternative purgative and cooling effects. It cures pain,
ulcers and fever and used for pectoral cough, asthma and other bronchial disorders-especially
syrup prepared from the tender fruits (Sivarajan and Balchandran,
1996; Nadkarni, 1992; Duke, 1992).
The pulp of the fruit is considered cool, diuretic, antibilious and useful in
coughs and as antidote to certain poisions (Duke, 1992;
Van Wyk and Gericke, 2000).
The tribal communities (Koyas, Gutti Koyas and Lambadas) located in the Northern
Telangana zone use the dry hard shells of bottle gourd fruits for various purposes.
Bottle gourd is variously referred as sorakaya, anapakaya,
anamgapkaya, burrakaya and tumri in the vernacular language
by the tribal communities. Domestic utensils like bottles, bowls, milk pots,
spoons and containers of several types are made out of the dried shells. It
is a common sight everywhere in the tribal dominated pockets of Khammam district
that the ethnic groups are mainly using the dry shells for carrying country
liquor (mahua drink, toddy), honey and water. In some of the pockets it is being
used for making stringed and wind musical instruments and pipes. At few places,
the natives use the dried shells as floats on water bodies as well. Though it
is nutritionally less calorific, tribal prefer bottle gourd as a vegetable for
preparation of curries and pickles (Rood, 1994; Chittendon,
1956; Summit and Widess, 1999). The Koya community
uses the fruits of the wild types for medicinal purposes (purgatives). Probably,
the bitter principle found in the wild bottle gourds is responsible for the
purgative property. The Gutti Koya tribals use the bottle gourd as a cure for
headache (external application) by mixing the seed oil with castor oil. The
pulp of the fruit is considered cool and diuretic (Duke, 1992;
Warrier et al., 1995).
Leaves of Lagenaria siceraria are taken as emetic in the form of leaf
juice or decoction. This by adding sugar also used in Jaundice. Crushed leaves
are used for baldness and applied on the head for the headache. Leaves are also
used as alternative purgative (Chopra and Chopra, 1992)
Flowers are also mentioned as antidote in certain kind of poisons. Stem bark
is diuretic (Duke, 1992). Roots are emetic and used in
dropsy. Ethnobotanical uses of the fruit are shown in Table 1.
The edible portion of fruits is fair source of ascorbic acid, beta carotene
and good source of vitamin B complex, pectin dietary soluble fibers and contains
highest source of choline level-a lipotropic factor, a healer of mental disorders,
along with required metabolic and metabolite precursors for brain function,
amongst any other vegetable known to man till date. It is also good source of
carbohydrates and dietary constituents (Table 2), minerals
(Table 3), amino acids and vitamins (Table 4)
(Nadkarni, 1992; Anonymous, 1996;
Kiritikar and Basu, 2001; Modgil
et al., 2004). The fruit is reported to contain the triterpenoid cucurbitacins
B, D, G, H and 22-deoxy cucurbitacin the bitter principle of cucurbitaceae.
The fruit juice contains beta glycosidase-elasterase enzyme (Duke,
1992; Van WyK and Gericke, 2000). Two sterols were
identified and isolated from petroleum ether fractions of ethanol extract of
dried fruit pulp of Lagenaria siceraria namely Fucosterol and campesterol
(Shirwaikar and Sreenivasan, 1996). The HPLC analysis
of extract of flowering plant of Lagenaria siceraria shows presence of
flavone-C glycosides (Baranoswka and Cisowski, 1994).
The effect of semi purified dietary fibers isolated from the fruit of Lagenaria
siceraria effects on fecal steroid excretion was reported (Sannoumaru
and Shimizu, 1996).
It is also reported to have content more proportion of Soluble Dietary Fibers
(SDF) than insoluble fibers. SDF are having profound effect in lowering serum
cholesterol, which also reveals that the pectin is predominant component of
soluble fibers in Lagenaria siceraria fruits (Chang
et al., 1995).
Peroxidase and polyperoxidase activity in relation to its blanching period
and total enzymatic inactivation of blanched sample (i.e., residual peroxidase
activity is less than one) is also reported in 180 sec. In addition, small amount
of unidentified mono-and di-caffeoylquinic acid derivative was detected. 30%
inhibition of superoxide formation in xanthine and xanthine-oxidase medium by
methanolic extract (500 μg mL-1) from fruit of Lagenaria
siceraria is also reported (Jiwjinda et al.,
The seeds considered as the least importance are having prime role in the human
nutrition due to encapsulation of innumerable phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals,
amino acids along with saponin and essential fixed oils especially of unsaturated
type (Habib-ur-Rahaman, 2003; Warrier
et al., 1995). A ribosome inactivating protein, Lagenin was isolated
from lyophilized water extracts of seeds, the biological actions of which include
antiproliferative, immunosuppressive and antifertility (Wang
and Ng, 2000).
||Carbohydrate and dietary constituents of bottle gourd (g/100
g dry weight basis) (Modgil et al., 2004)
||Amino acids and vitamins content of Lagenaria siceraria
fruit and seed (Gopalan et al., 1996)
Seeds are also used in dropsy, worm infection and as nutritive. Ripe seeds
are having a 45% yield of clear limbid oil (Warrier et
al., 1995). Seed oil which have cooling effect and can be applied in
migraine type headache. A poultice of boiled seeds has been used in the treatment
of boils, taken with Acchrynthus species the seeds are used to treat
the toothache and gums. In many parts of China three grams per day of this species
(the report does not say what part of the plant) has been used as a single treatment
for diabetes mellitus (Duke, 1992).
A triterpene bryonolic acid an antiallergic compound was reported from callus
culture of Lagenaria siceraria roots (Tabata et
al., 1993). Bitter fruits yield 0.013% of a solid foam containing cucurbitacins
B, D, G and H, mainly cucurbitacin B. These bitter principles are present in
the fruit of agalycones. The leaves contain cucurbitacins B, D and traces of
E. The fruit juice contains beta-glycosidase (elasterase) (Khare,
The mucilage is also present in the fruit, which can be extracted by microwave
assistance extraction (Shah et al., 2010).
Antihyperlipidemic effect of four different extract viz., petroleum ether, chloroform,
alcoholic and aqueous extracts from bottle gourd in triton induced hyperlipidemic
were studied. Chloroform and alcoholic extract at two different doses (200 and
400 mg kg-1, p.o.) showed significant effects in lowering total cholesterol,
triglyceride and low density lipoproteins along with an increased in HDL level
(Ghule et al., 2006a). Isolated constituents
from Langearia siceraria fruit juice extract namely LSN-I, LSN-II and
LSN-III was found to be having antihyperlipidemic activity against triton-X
induced hyperlipidemia (Mohale et al., 2008).
Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity:
Langenaria siceraria Stand Fruit Juice Extract (LSFJE) was studied for
its analgesic effect using acetic acid induced writhing and formalin induced
pain in mice. LSFJE (150-300 mg kg-1, p.o.) showed a dose dependent
inhibition of writhing and also showed a signification inhibition of both phases
of the formalin pain test, but with a less intense effect on the first than
the second phase. Juice extract of L. siceraria also shows anti-inflammatory
activity against acute inflammatory models i.e., ethyl phenyl propionate-induced
ear edema, carrageenan and arachidonic acid-induced hind paw edema model (Shah
et al., 2007) and also the albumin induced paw edema in rats. The
LSFJE elicited significant (p<0.05) inhibitory effect on the ear edema formation
at 30 min, 1 and 2 h after ethyl phenyl propionate injection. The extract significantly
inhibited carrageenan and arachidonic acid-induced hind paw edema. The LSFJE
also causes inhibition of albumin induced paw edema over a period of 90 min
(Ghule et al., 2006a, b).
Vacuum dried extract and methanol extract of L. siceraria fruit was
evaluated for its diuretic activity by Ghule et al.
(2007). Diuretic activity was assessed by measuring different parameters
like total urine volume, urine concentration of sodium, potassium and chloride
and found that both the extracts (100-200 mg kg-1, p.o.) showed higher
urine volume and exhibited dose dependent increased in excretion of electrolytes
when compared with respective control.
Acetone extract of fruit epicarp of L. siceraria fruit showed maximum
antioxidant activity against in vitro model using DPPH (Rachh
et al., 2009). The fresh juice of the fruit also shows antiradical
activity. The juice as such and its ten times dilution showed radical scavenging
activity where as 100 and 1000 times diluted juice does not show any radical
scavenging activity (Deshpande et al., 2007).
Extract is also effective in CCl4 induced liver damage where it maintained
the level of endogenous antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase
and glutathione peroxidase) and marker of lipid peroxidation to that of normal
(Fard et al., 2008).
The researchers studies the immunomodulatory effects of n-butanol soluble
and ethyl acetate soluble fraction of successive methanolic extract of LSF in
rats. Result of the study showed that the test fraction possess promising immunomodulatory
activity as they increases both primary and secondary antibody titre and also
significantly inhibited delayed type hypersensitivity reaction in rats. Both
the fractions significantly increases total WBC, neutrophils and lymphocytes
count while insignificant changes were observed in monocytes, eosinophils and
basophils count (Gangwal et al., 2008). Ethanol
extract of LS also showed significant prevention in reduction of humoral immune
response, cellular immune response and percent neutrophil adheron in mice in
the presence of chemical stressor i.e., Pyrogallol (Deshpande
et al., 2008). Mixture of sterols and two flavonoids were isolated
from the n-butanol and ethyl acetate soluble fractions of successive methanol
extract of Lagenaria siceraria fruit and were identified as oleanolic
acid (I), mixture of β-sitosterol (II) and campesterol (III), isoquercitrin
(IV) and Kaempeferol (V).
All these compounds were tested for immunomodulatory activity. Compound I and
IV were significantly increased haemagglutination antibody titre and significantly
inhibited delayed type hypersensitivity response in rats compared to control
group animals. They also increased rate of carbon clearance from the blood of
mice indicating increased phagocytosis (Gangwal et al.,
Deshpande et al. (2008) evaluated ethanolic extract
of LS epicarp for hepatoprotective activity. The LS (100 and 200 mg kg-1)
showed significant prevention of elevated levels of serum glutamate oxaloacetate,
serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase, alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin and
these data is also in correlation with histopathological findings. The antihepatotoxic
activity of different fractions of the ethanolic extract of L. siceraria
fruit, administered orally to different groups of rats was evaluated using
the CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity test. All fractions tested, in a
dose of 250 mg kg-1 showed significant activity, with the petroleum
ether fraction exhibiting comparatively higher activity (Gopalan
et al., 1996).
The fruit powder of L. siceraria also showed good cardioprotective
effects. The drug was studied against Doxorubicin induced cardiotoxicity in
rats at 200 mg kg-1, p.o. for 18 days. The LS prevents the alteration
in endogenous antioxidants (superoxide dismutase, reduced glutathione) and lipid
peroxidation where as markers of cardiotoxicity i.e., CK-MB and LDH were significantly
reduced. Further the LS powder also showed the protection against changes in
ECG and histopathological alteration induced by doxorubicin (Fard
et al., 2008). Ethanolic extract of L. Siceraria fruits also
showed increased in force of contraction and decrease in rate of contraction
(from 66 to 44) in isolated frog heart when perfused with normal ringer solution
(Deshpande et al., 2008).
The anthelmintic efficacy of four plants of the cucurbitaceae against Hymenolepis
nana (tapeworm) and Aspicularis tetraptera (pinworm) infections in
mice was evaluated utilizing piperazine citrate as a reference substance for
comparison. The ethanolic extracts of the seeds of Cucumis sativus,
Cucurbita maxima and L. siceraria exhibited a potent activity against
tapeworms which was comparable to the effect of piperazine citrate. Some activity
against pinworms was demonstrated by seeds of Cucurbita maxima (Elisha
et al., 1987).
Lagenaria siceraria is a well-known plant used in the Indian system of medicine, besides which folklore medicine also claims its uses especially in cardiac and hepatic diseases, ulcer, etc. L. siceraria fruit is cultivated in India, Japan, Sri Lanka, China and Thailand for its vegetable use. This fruit is the source of Dudhi Bhopala Juice, which is used as a supplement to the treatment of cardiac diseases. Presently there is an increasing interest worldwide in herbal medicines accompanied by increased laboratory investigation into the pharmacological properties of the bioactive ingredients and their ability to treat various diseases. Numerous drugs have entered the international market through exploration of ethnopharmacology and traditional medicine. Although, scientific studies have been carried out on a large number of Indian botanicals, a considerably smaller number of marketable drugs or phytochemical entities have entered the evidence-based therapeutics. Efforts are therefore needed to establish and validate evidence regarding safety and practices of Ayurvedic medicines.
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