Benincasa hispida, Thumb. dong gua 冬瓜

What are the potential health benefits of dong gua (Benincasa hispida)?

Dong gua (Benincasa hispida) may have many health benefits. Benincasa hispida (wax gourd)
has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat hypertension and inflammation. [4] In
Ayurved, Benincasa hispida (B. hispida) is recommended as an anti-ulcer agent. [5] In Korea,
dong gua is used to treat diabetic complications. [2,3]

Researchers from Taiwan found seeds have a higher capacity on anti-oxidation and inhibition of
angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity than the fresh. It may be due to its high phenolic
contents and superoxide dismutase activity. Thus, they believe, seed extracts of dong gua may
offer a good health benefits on lowering risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. [4]

Indian researchers induced ulcers in rats with indomethacin. They found that there was an
apparent decrease in ulcer index in animals treated with fruit extract of Benincasa hispida
(Ashgourd). Benincasa hispida has been shown to contain certain active principles like
terpenes, flavanoid C--glycosides and sterols which have antioxidant effects. [1] Researchers
from All India Institute of Medical Sciences found the anti-ulcerogenic effect of the fresh juice of
Benincasa hispida was dose-dependent in stress-induced model of ulcer and not in other types
of models. They explained fresh juice of Benincasa hispida may have a CNS component in
prevention of stress induced ulceration. However, antihistaminic, anti-cholinergic effects and
prevention of disturbance in gastric micro-circulation as possible modes of action cannot be
ruled out. [5]

Benincasa hispida has been used mainly diabetes and diuresis diseases in Korea. [3] Korean
researchers showed the anti-inflammatory activities of aqueous extract of Benincasa hispida
Cogniaux. In a cell study, the aqueous extract reduced high glucose-induced CAMs activation by
inhibiting monocyte adhesion, ROS, and NF-kappaB in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. [2]

Researchers from Kolon Central Research Park, Korea showed its seed extract may benefit
people at risk of cancer. In a test-tube study, researchers found the seed extract of Benincasa
hispida Cogniaux decreased basic fibroblast growth factor -induced endothelial cell proliferation
and tube formation in a dose-dependent manner. Basic fibroblast growth factor is a potent
angiogenic factor found in various tumors. [3]


[1] Shetty BV, Arjuman A, Jorapur A, Samanth R, Yadav SK, Valliammai N, Tharian AD,
Sudha K, Rao GM. Kasturba Medical College, Effect of extract of Benincasa hispida on oxidative stress in rats with
indomethacin induced gastric ulcers. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Apr-Jun;52(2):178-82. [2] Moon MK, Kang DG, Lee
YJ, Kim JS, Lee HS. Wonkwang University, Korea. Effect of Benincasa hispida Cogniaux on high glucose-induced
vascular inflammation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Vascul Pharmacol. 2008 Nov 27. [3] Lee KH, Choi HR,
Kim CH. Kolon Central Research Park, Korea. Anti-angiogenic effect of the seed extract of Benincasa hispida Cogniaux. J
Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Mar 21;97(3):509-13. [4] Huang HY, Huang JJ, Tso TK, Tsai YC, Chang CK. Shih-Chien University,
Taiwan Antioxidant and angiotension-converting enzyme inhibition capacities of various parts of Benincasa hispida (wax
gourd).Nahrung. 2004 Jun;48(3):230-3. [5] Grover JK, Adiga G, Vats V, Rathi SS. Extracts of
Benincasa hispida prevent development of experimental ulcers.J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Dec;78(2-3):159-64.
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