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Ash Gourd / Kushmand: A Digestive And Brain Tonic For Daily Use!

The Ash gourd, also known as Winter melon and Kushmanda in Sanskrit, is a round or an oblong-shaped melon native to Asia. It grows on vines and has a fine hairy exterior during its developmental stages that soon turns ashy in colour and coats the melon as a fine dusty powder. Hence, the name. It is a simple, fleshy melon that has high water content and is a part of numerous ayurvedic remedies. 

The water content of an Ash gourd stands at about 96% and it is very low in calories, fats and carbs. It is also a part of caloric deficit diets due to its high fibre and nutrient content. It contains a variety of minerals and vitamins such as Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Iodine, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin B6. It also contains phenolics, cucurbitacin, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. 

Ayurvedic considers ash gourd to be one of the highest panic foods in nature. It has a cooling potency or a cooling effect and is known to balance the Pitta and Vata doshas in one’s body. Ayurvedic recipes use the fruit, seed powders and seed oil (with similar effects as that of the fruit) to avail maximum benefits.

winter melon
winter melon

Primarily, it is used in treating dysuria and in treating renal calculi. It cleanses the tracts and bladder and the high fibre content improves metabolism. The seeds along with coconut milk are used to encourage tissue growth and expel intestinal worms from the body. Ayurveda deems it a great ingredient to treat general weakness. 


General Uses And Benefits Of Ash Gourd

  • It helps in treating dysuria.
  • It is useful in breaking down renal calculi.
  • It relieves thirst.
  • It nourishes and helps with treating emaciation.
  • It is an aphrodisiac.
  • It helps treat anorexia.
  • It improves strength and immunity.
  • It is useful in treating a variety of bleeding disorders.
  • Treats peptic ulcers.
  • Good for those with diabetes.
  • Kills intestinal worms.
  • Treats constipation.
  • Treats respiratory conditions. 
  • Improves mental health and wellbeing.
  • It is good as a salve for the skin.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It has antimicrobial and antifungal effects. 


Ash Gourd Benefits As Per Ayurveda

Ayurveda describes ash gourd as Laghu, Snigdha, sheeta (cool potency) and Vata Pitta Nashaka

Guna: Madhura rasa, guru guna

Karma: Vatapitta hara, vasti suddhi kara, vrsya

It is considered a Medhya Rasayana (Brain boosting rasayana) as described by Bhava Misra from the one of the most used Nighantus called Bhavaprakash Nighantu.

In Ashtanga Hridayam, you can find following shloka describing its properties.

वल्लीफलानां प्रवरं कुष्माण्डं वातपित्तजित 

बस्तिशुद्धिकरं वृष्यं त्रपुसं त्वतिमूत्रलम

– Ashtanga Hridayam

The shloka mentions that kushmand cleanses the urinary bladder as well as acts as an aphrodisiac.

In charaka samhita, you can also find a reference which mentions the benefits of the ripe ash gourd / kushmanda

सिारं पक्तिकूष्माण्डं मधुराम्लं तथा लघु |

सृष्मूत्रपुरीिं च सिघदोितनबहघणम्||११३||

– Charak Samhita

The above shloka explains that Ash gourd is sweet and sour in taste, slightly alkaline and light. It helps elimination of urine and faces and alleviates all the three vitiated Dosas.


Ash Gourd Benefits For Skin

Ash gourd is works wonders as an emollient. It is great for treating sunburns, rashes and dry patches or areas on the skin. The gel is easy to apply and leaves the skin feeling smooth and moisturized. 

The gel of the Ash gourd can be derived by scooping out the seeds in the middle and scraping away at the soft centre of the gourd. This soft derivative can be blended to make it smooth and easy to use. Take care not to add water to this mixture as the viscosity may change and the gel could get runny. 

The leaves also boast astringent properties. The residue derived from the leaves is used to treat boils, pus formations, fluid-filled lesions and painful, clustered boils.


Ash Gourd Benefits For Hair

Flaky dandruff and itchy scalp are the most common issues faced by those that travel frequently or are exposed to pollutants in the air. Dry scalp can also lead to dandruff and itchiness. To combat these issues, the Ash gourd gel can be applied to the hair and left for about 30 minutes. A gentle shampoo rinse should remove the residual product from the hair.

Given its antifungal properties, it combats dandruff that can be caused due to fungal growth and leaves the hair shiny and strong. It protects the follicles from turning into furuncles and stabilises the hair strand deep into the scalp. 


Ash Gourd Benefits For Weight Loss

ash gourd
ash gourd / kushmanda

The Ash gourd has been used extensively for weight loss due to its minute fat and calorie content. It is very high in fibre and thus, enables regular bowel movements and is good for those that experience bloating or abdominal discomfort. It is a great addition to ketogenic or calorie deficit diets thanks to its nutritional value and filling characteristic. It has a high water content which means that it’ll keep you hydrated while ensuring that your body is getting the nutrition it needs. It also contains saponins that work against fat storage and helps curb sugar levels. 

The most common way to use it for weight loss is in liquid form. Blend chunks of the ash gourd into a paste and add as much water as is required for you. The process is similar to deriving any regular fruit juice. While straining the juice before serving is a preferred method, it could also take away a lot of the fibre form the drink. It is light in flavour and isn’t overwhelming on the taste buds so any additives or sweeteners may not be necessary. 

Those that have a naturally cool body must consider adding pepper, turmeric or honey to neutralize its cool potency to an extent. Excessive or improper consumption by those with a naturally cool body can lead to excessive coolness or cold in the system. 


Ash Benefits For Dysuria And Actions As A Diuretic

Ash gourd is known to have diuretic properties that aid the easy and painless expulsion of urine and waste from the body. It regulates the kidney functions by aiding in the secretory functions of the kidneys and removing any toxic compounds from the system. 

Suggested Remedy: It is recommended to take equal parts of Ash gourd juice and water to combat dysuria. 


Winter Melon For Brain

Winter melon is considered as a medhya in Ayurveda which means herbs/plants which help as a nervous system and brain supplement. It gives stability to the brain and improves memory. It is especially helpful for mentally unstable patients with issues like schizophrenia & debility, and also for children as it aids the development of the brain.

Kushmand Ghrita, which is a potent Ayurvedic medicine prepared from Ash gourd mixed with cow ghee, has shown a great potential in management of depressive illness.


Ash Gourd Benefits During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time when the utmost care is taken when it comes to diets and remedies. It isn’t particularly bad to give in to periodic cravings but one must always keep in mind to stay on top of all that is nutritive. 

Ash gourd is one such food with a variety of nutritional benefits. It is an amazing source of a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre and is great for cleansing the system. It is also great for skin and hair and simply adds to the overall pregnancy glow. It also stabilizes nerve cells and ensures good overall mental health. The active components of the gourd have antioxidant effects and help treat acid reflux and inhibit gastric mucosal damage. 

Good things only come in small packages and while the Ash gourd is generally safe to consume during pregnancy and good during lactation, the portion size must be closely monitored to avoid any adverse effects. It must also be ensured that the portion is well cooked. 

It is mostly safe when taken along with medicines but a medical practitioner must be consulted and if not deemed safe in certain cases, it must be avoided. 


White Pumpkin Juice For Acidity

White pumpkin is specially useful for hyperacidity and dyspepsia. This is due to its cool potency and its ability to nutralize excess acidity and heat or pitta in the body. It is also effective in other pitta disorders like urticaria, gastritis, gastric ulcers, Acidity and burning sensation in the stomach, ulcerative colitis, bleeding disorders, skin itching and Duodenal ulcer.

Suggested Remedy: Prepare 10-20 ml juice of winter melon (removing the seeds and skin) and add a little bit of mishri. Consume it 2 to 3 times a day.


For Intestinal / Tape Worms

Consuming the seeds of Kushmand is also a great remedy for Intestinal worms but its effect on Tape Worms specifically is well known. 

Suggested Remedy: Take 12-14 seeds and break them. Consume the insides of the seeds for a few days to relieve intestinal worms.


For Bleeding Disorders

Winter melon is considered to be rakta pitta nashak which means it is good for bleeding disorders which occur due to increased pitta like nose bleeds, anal bleeding, heavy periods or white discharge in women, internal haemorrhages.


White Pumpkin Juice Side Effects & Precautions And Safety Profile

It is imperative that a medical practitioner is consulted before the intake of any Ayurvedic medicine or recipe. The Ash gourd is safe to consume when on homoeopathic or allopathic drugs. Regardless, one is advised to consult with their medical practitioner before making radical changes to the existing diet. 

The Ash gourd is safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation and does not have adverse effects when consumed in controlled portion sizes. A consultation with a medical practitioner regarding the same is recommended. 

For those with a naturally cool body, precautions must be taken during consumption. The Ash gourd must be consumed with another neutralizing ingredient so as to avoid any adverse effects.  

The consumption of the seed powder must not exceed the dose of 6 grams and the seed oil must not exceed the dose of 5ml. 

The ashy exterior of the gourd will turn sticky when exposed to moisture or when wet. It is recommended that it is thoroughly washed off and peeled before use. 



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Ash Gourd / Kushmand: A Digestive And Brain Tonic For Daily Use!
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