Winter Melon Health Benefits, Medicinal Use, Side Effects

Winter Melon or Ash gourd  is one of the best vegetables as well as a medicine. It is packed with phyto-nutrients and medicinal values. It is used for weight gain therapy, to improve intelligence and so on. In the Indian system of medicine, it is hailed as the best among all the fruit-yielding creeper plants. It is called Kushmanda in Sanskrit. It is also used in spiritual practices in some parts of India.

winter melon

Botanical name: Benincasa cerifera  or Benincasa hispida.
Family: Cucurbitaceae (kosaataki kula)
Varga – Valli phala

Vernacular names, Sanskrit synonyms

English names: Winter melon, White gourd, Ash gourd
Hindi name: Petha, Peta, Rukasaa, Bhatuvaa
Telugu name:  Boodida Gummadi, Gummadi
Bengali name: Kumada
Marathi name: Kohala
Tamil name: Pusinikkai
Malayalam name: Kumbalam
Kannada name: Boodu Kumbala Kai / Kayi
Parsi name: Vaduba
Arabian name: Mahadab

Sanskrit synonyms:
KushmandaThe seed does not have hotness (Ku Nasti Ushma Andeshu Beejeshy yasya sa – Amarakosha)
Pushpaphala – fruits and flowers are present in the creeper vine at the same time.
Valliphala – fruit yielding creeper
Pitapushpa – Flowers are yellow in colour
Brihatphala – Fruits are very big
Kumbhaphala – Fruits are pitcher shape
Sthiraphala -Fruit has hard covering
Somasrushta – Fruits have more water content
Valliphalotthama – Kusmanda is best among fruits obtained from creepers

Distribution, classical categorization

Distribution: It is cultivated in almost all parts of India.
Classical categorization:
Charaka, Susruta, Bh.P – Saka varga
It is a vegetable which is appreciated as best among the fruit vegetables (Valli phala) growing in the creepers in Ayurvedic literature.


  1. Benincasa hispida
    2. Cucurbita moschata


A large climbing gourd, with soft hairs, tendrils are bifid. Stems are stout, angular and hispid
Leaves – Cordate, reniform
Flowers – Large, yellow coloured solitary
Fruits – Very large, Cylindric, fleshy, indehiscent
Seeds – Many, oblong, compressed

Medicinal properties

Rasa (Taste): Madhura (sweet)
Guna (qualities): Laghu (light to digest), Snigdha (unctuous, oily)
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion): Madhura (sweet)
Veerya (potency): Sheeta (cold)
Effect on Tridosha: Balances Pitta, Vata
Prabhava (special effect): Medhya – improves intelligence


Alkaloid cucurbitin, Resin, Myosin, Sugar, Fixed oil. Fruit contains 95 % of water, protein, and vitamins. In seeds – Fixed oil

Ash gourd benefits
Winter melon benefits

Ash gourd traditional benefits

Mutraghatahara – helps in easy passing of urine
Pramehashamanam – useful in diabetes, urinary tract disorders
Mutrakruchrahara – Useful in dysuria
Ashmarichedana – Useful in urinary calculi. Helps to break into pieces
Vinmutra glapanam – helps to increase the bulk of urine and feces
Trushartishamanam – relieves thirst and related pain
Jeernangapushtidam – nourishes the worn out body parts. Helps to improve body mass. Helps to gain weight.
Vrushyam – Aphrodisiac
Arochakahara – relieves anorexia
Balya – improves strength and immunity
Bruhmana – helps to gain weight, provides nutrition
Pittasranut – useful in bleeding disorders due to Pitta imbalance, such as menorrhagia, bleeding per rectum, nasal bleeding etc.
Vatanut – balances Vata
Bastishuddhikara – cleanses bladder
Chetorogahrut – relieves excessive tiredness
The unripe winter melon helps to balance Pitta.
Mid-ripe winter melon is coolant and increases Kapha.
Old winter melon (Fully ripe), is not so coolant, sweet, alkaline, easy to digest and improves digestion strength.

Ash gourd seed oil has similar effects to those of the fruit.

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

External application – Relieve hotness and burning sensation Its seed oil is used for application in vata pittaja type of headache.
Internal administration
Nervous system – Improve intelligence, mind calming, and improve sleep. Indicated in insanity, weakness of nervous system, loss of memory. Cooked fruit is especially beneficial in mental disorders
Circulatory System – It is Sweet, unctuous and cold . Good for the heart, It has styptic action (Control bleeding) . Indicated in bleeding disorder, and urakshata (chest injury)
Respiratory System – It is sweet, unctuous and improves lungs health and body strength. Indicated in Tuberculosis, emaciated conditions, cough, fever, burning sensation, epistaxis.
Excretory System – Being cold in nature it is a good diuretic, especially ripened fruit cleanses bladder
Reproductive System- improve semen quantity, indicated in dysuria, calculus etc.
Skin – Relieve burning sensation
Digestive system – It is sweet and unctuous so it has slight purgative action. It relieves thirst. Its seeds have anti microbial action Indicated in constipation, excessive thirst, worm infestation, bleeding piles etc. Its alkali used to treat abdominal pain. It has nourishing and strengthening action, indicated in weak, lean patients to improve body strength. Fruit juice is indicated in mercury poisonings.

Properties as per Bhojana Kutuhala

According to Bhojana Kutuhalam, Kushmanda cures urinary obstruction, helps in regulating prameha and severe renal calculi, it reduces the fluid quantity in urine and feces, mitigates thirst, it stabilizes and nourishes the weekend body, it is aphrodisiac, sweet in taste, imparts taste and alleviates pitta. Kushmanda is considered as the best fruit grown on creepers by the physicians.

The tender kushmanda alleviates pitta and in its intermediate state it aggravates kapha. The completely mature fruit is light to digest, hot in potency, alkaline in nature, stimulates the digestive fire and cleanses the bladder. It alleviates all the doshas, cardio tonic and wholesome for those suffering from disease of semen.

Part used, Dosage

Part used: Fruit, seed, seed oil
Fruit – It is used as a vegetable.
Seed powder – 3 – 6 grams
Seed oil – 5 ml

Ash Gourd Home remedies

By Dr.M.S. Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD
Due to its potent ability with respect to memory enhancing effect (medhya), soothing properties (prasadana), bulk enhancing effect (brimhana), diuretic effect (mutrala) and aphrodisiac benefit(vrishya karma) it can be advised safely in all the age group irrespective of the gender. 
Famous sweet dish Kashi halva is prepared from ash gourd.

Weight gain remedy

Ash gourd can be used for weight gain. It can be used by preparing sabji or Sambhar. 
It can also be made as halva. 
Cut into pieces, boil in water, drain the water. Take pulp, fry in ghee. 
Then add sugar to the water, add the fried pulp and prepare Halwa. It can be consumed once or twice a day.

Remedy for dysuria

1. In cases of Dysuria (difficulty in urination)-
100 ml of fresh juice of ash gourd is obtained and to this 10 gram of organic sugar candy is added and dissolved. This is administered 3-4 times in a day.
Within a day burning sensation is relieved.

Remedy for memory loss

2. In memory loss, loss of sleep, fatigue, muscular cramps etc-
50 ml of fresh juice is mixed with one teaspoon of ghee and a pinch of fine powder of liquorice (Yashtimadhu).
This is taken early in the morning in the empty stomach,after proper evacuation of the bowel and urine.
This can be practiced for 2-3 months period,daily or else after one month it can be taken once in two days or three days.

Even the people who are on anti epileptic treatment can also consume this for added benefits;it helps to overcome the untoward effects of sch drugs also.

Remedy for burning sensation

3. Burning chest –throat and in extremities-
Ash gourd is cooked well and on maceration, juice (decoction) is obtained. To this 5 gram of organic jaggery (or sugar candy) and a pinch of cardamom are added and mixed thoroughly.This is consumed(100 ml) twice daily, preferably during day time.

Remedy for urinary problems

4.Urinary calculi and burning urination(Seed recipe)-
50-60 ash gourd seeds are obtained and dehusked(it is not mandatory to dehusk). To this sweet butter milk(200 ml) is added and churned well.
Equal amount of water is added and given to drink. This can be given twice daily.

5-6 days medication with this home remedy shows significant benefits in the above said complaints.Also good appetite, taste in the food are achieved and pre-existing bloating of abdomen if any also relieved.

Remedy for mastitis

5. Mastitis and Lymphaedinitis (Flower recipe)-
In this condition, 5-6 flowers of ash gourd are collected and fine paste is made.To this turmeric and tamarind leaves (say 5 gram each) are added and pounded well (some add fried asafoetida also, which I usually do not advice as it may cause burning sensation in few of the individuals).
Hence obtained fine paste is applied over the affected area.
3-4 days’ medication gives good result.

Here after Ash gourd will not remain not only a vegetable of choice but also a source of multiple home remedies.
Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) PhD

Mania, Schizophrenia

As per Rasa Tantra Sara text book, Swarna Makshika bhasma is administered along with Laghu Suta Shekhar ras with co drink of ash gourd juice. It is useful to relieve dizziness, burning sensation, excessive talk and sleep disturbances.

Spiritual significance

Spiritual practice with ash gourd: 
To symbolize evil power destruction, camphor is lit on the ash gourd fruit and after Arati (circular rotation to the Deity, symbolizing zero-ness (ego-less), ash gourd is usually shattered into pieces by pounding it on to the ground.
This ritual is done on many festivals, usually during inauguration of new buildings, new business, during Lakshmi Pooja etc.

Side effects

In obese people, it should be used for a limited period, in minimal doses.
It increases Kapha, hence it is not ideal to use this in winter and whenever someone has a cold, asthma or bronchitis.
However, it is very useful in the post tuberculosis recuperation period. It improves weight.
If it is sweet, it is not ideal during indigestion.
It is considered generally safe to consume during pregnancy, lactation.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicine with Ash gourd as ingredient:
Kushmanda Rasayana – Useful in bleeding disorders, to improve body weight and to relieve emaciation.
Sri Gopal Taila – useful to improve strength of nerves and muscles

Use in Worship

In Hindu custom, during festivals or inauguration of office, Pooja of vehicles etc., it is a common practice to break ash gourd in front of office or vehicle. It is a symbolic sacrifice to avoid bad incidents in future.

Amla Navami
 Amla Navami (Awla navami) is the 9th day of Karthika Month of Hindu calendar. It is between October – november. It is the same month in which Deepavali – festival of light is celebrated.
During this day, Amla tree is worshiped along with friends and family. This festival is also known as Akshaya Navami. It is more celebrated in mid and northern part of India.
This worship is conducted to seek blessings to beget children and family peace.
This is the date in which God Sri Krishna stopped all the childhood activities. This date is when the Dwapara Yug started. This is the date in which God Vishnu killed a demon called Kushmandaka. For this reason, during this festival, Kushmanda (Ash gourd) is distributed for free to all. Amla itself is considered as God Vishnu. Hence, worship is offered to this tree.

Wax gourd, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

(Chinese preserving melon)

Rasa – sweet
Guna – light, not very unctuous (as it is cooked)
Veerya – cold
Vipaka – sweet
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta balancing
Kapha nourishing (as it is cooked which makes it more Kaphahara)
Action – Vrisya, Brimhana, Hridya, Mutrala, Balya, Medhya
Pharmacological activities – Nutritive, Tonic, Diuretic, Intellect promoter

Wax gourd, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

(Chinese preserving melon)

Taste – sweet, slightly salty
Properties – light, not very unctuous (as it is cooked)
Potency – not very cold (wax gourd is cold in potency but salt is hot in potency)
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – sweet
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta nourishing (wax gourd is Pitta balancing, but salt is Pitta increasing)
Kapha nourishing (as it is cooked which makes it more Kaphahara)

25 comments on “Winter Melon Health Benefits, Medicinal Use, Side Effects

  • Bhargav Trivedi

    31/01/2013 - 12:34 pm

    Very interesting…I want to give it to my son. What is its name in Gujarati??

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      31/01/2013 - 5:20 pm

      Not sure, but I think it is called as Kolu in Gujarati.

      Reply to comment
    • Manish Desai

      14/11/2014 - 3:47 pm

      Kolu is green. This one comes with whitish tinge. Like spreaded ASH on the green fruit

      Reply to comment
  • Gaurav

    01/11/2013 - 7:15 am

    How is this consumed? Raw pieces? Raw juice? Cooked vegetable (like Lauki)?

    Is this very different from Lauki (bottle gourd) as far as general effects are concerned?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      01/12/2013 - 5:10 pm

      It is cooked as a vegetable and consumed. It is different than Bottle gourd.

      Reply to comment
  • Radhakrishna Rao

    07/01/2014 - 11:42 pm

    But in internet it shown to lose wieght? And toxin remover?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      08/01/2014 - 11:12 am

      Just because someone writes something on internet, it need not necessarily be true.

      Reply to comment
      • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

        25/07/2014 - 8:29 am

        Winter melon, fried in ghee and baked a little with sugar candy / sugar can be used as part of diet in your son as a dietary support for epilepsy.

        Reply to comment
  • ramesh shastry

    14/10/2014 - 4:53 pm

    thank you MR hebbar for providing information about kooshmanda (booda kumballakaai).
    its said it will increase body weight but it doesnt has fat in it how can it. will the body weight increases in terms of water content?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      23/10/2014 - 5:53 pm

      It does not increase the weight by increasing water content.
      It increases weight by improving the absorption of nutrients by stomach and intestines.

      Reply to comment
  • sangeeta

    19/04/2015 - 10:02 pm

    I am so grateful to have come across your detailed article about this vegetable. I dont like it much but now that I am respinsible to provide my child a nutritious diet, I try to read the benefits of all vegetables that I am not fond of so that I cook them and eat and serve them to my family anyway. I am wondering if there is any article about how to prevent or arrest tremendous hairfall and premature graying post pregnancy, because I see links to articles about skincare. If there are such articles kindly provide the link. Many thanks.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      19/04/2015 - 10:51 pm

      Thanks! Please read here –

      Reply to comment
  • Priya

    28/09/2015 - 7:43 am

    I have personally seen people lose weight by drinking winter melon juice everyday without changing their daily diet. How is that possible if this is true.

    Reply to comment
    • Pankaj

      06/05/2021 - 2:42 pm

      In Ayurveda juice is called swarasa. As people are consuming only juice+water and not pulp. They will surely lose their weight

      Reply to comment
  • Aja

    13/12/2015 - 9:58 pm

    Is there any risk or precautions need to be taken before consuming raw ash gourd juice? I seen some article on the internet which says that bottle gourd need to be discarded if it is bitter..Does Ash gourd have any similar problem?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      29/03/2016 - 9:15 pm

      Hi, if the quality of ash gourd is good, without worm infestation, well grown, etc, then there are no such precautions. However, it is best to try a trial dose of 10 ml, wait for one hour to see any reactions such as skin allergy bloating etc and then only go ahead.

      Reply to comment
  • T

    11/04/2016 - 2:51 am

    i thought one of the benefits is weightloss also

    Reply to comment
    • Dr Malini Bhat

      11/04/2016 - 6:02 pm

      Sir, It is Jeernangapushtidam – nourishes the worn out body parts. Helps to improve body mass. Bruhmana – helps to gain weight, provides nutrition

      Reply to comment
  • Ravi

    21/03/2017 - 3:58 pm

    Is there any difference in qualities as far as different parts of the ashgoard is concerned because the smooth white portion underneath the peel has a different texture than the white soft pulpy central portion amid which the seeds are interspersed. I have observed that the central spongy portion on grinding yeilds a lot more lather than the outer pulp. That’s why I suspect some change in properties. Please advise.
    Thank you.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      19/04/2017 - 10:40 pm

      No such different uses are mentioned for different parts within the fruit.

      Reply to comment
  • Ravi

    22/03/2017 - 11:46 am

    Respected Sir
    Isn’t consuming just 10-20 grams of pulp too little a quantity. At the end of the day it is almost a vegetable. I drink a glass(250 ml) of juice made out of its pulp weighing 500 grams. Am I crossing the limits ?

    Reply to comment
  • Vidhi

    24/12/2020 - 9:43 am

    Dear Sir,
    Does the fresh ash gourd juice results in weight loss? Because it is kapha kara so results in increased weight? Is it safe to use for obese people?
    How about people suffering from dadri or vicharchika? Should it be used?
    Please help

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      26/05/2021 - 5:07 pm

      The unripe winter melon helps to balance Pitta.
      Mid-ripe winter melon is coolant and increases Kapha.
      It’s juice can be used for weight loss as it keeps appetite under check.
      It is not good to use it in people suffering with Dadri and Vicharchika.

      Reply to comment
  • Danny Fernandes

    25/04/2021 - 2:42 pm

    Dear Sir, Is Ash gourd a melon, and if do, do all requirements with Regards to incompatibility with other food items as per ayurveda to be observed. For instance it is said that we cannot combine melon with curd. Does the same apply to ash gourd? Thanks

    Reply to comment

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