Citrullus colocynthis

Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad.

Cucurbitaceae

  • Bitter Apple
  • Bitter Gourd
  • Colocynth
  • Vine-of-Sodom
  • Wild Gourd
  • التفاح المر
  • العلقم
  • حنظل
  • شري
  • el-'alqam
  • el-tuffah el-murr
  • hanthal
  • shari
  • אֲבַטִּיחַ הַפַּקּוּעָה
  • avatiakh ha-paqu'a

Hemicryptophytes

  • Desert
  •  Thermophilous plants
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distribution and other botanical details.

Medicinal Complaints / Uses

Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad.

System/StateTraditional
Complaint/Use
Activity / Interpretation Traditional
Preparation/Administration

Parts Used

Source
Cancer

Cancer

Anti-carcinogenic

1. Decoct leaves & drink 1 cup x1/day for 1 mth. (B)
2. Decoct fruit & leaves in water & drink x3 cups/day. (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

Fruit, LeafB, Z
Child Health

Strengthen baby`s legs

Non-specific

Peel green fruit, boil the rind in olive oil to obtain jelly; spread on baby's feet & knees to help walk first steps.

Fruit rindZ
Dermatological

Hair growth

Hair restorer

Rub fruit rind on bald areas.

Fruit rindZ
Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT)

Deafness

Non-specific

Extract juice from leaves & apply as eardrops.

LeafZ
Endocrine/ Metabolic

Diabetes mellitus

Hypoglycemic

1. Grind dried fruit & eat x1/2 teaspoon/day.
2. Eat seeds. (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

Fruit, SeedZ
Gastrointestinal

Constipation

Laxative

1. Decoct ground seeds & drink x2 cups/day for 1 week.
2. Use seeds as a suppository.

SeedB
Gastrointestinal

Constipation (laxative)

Laxative

1. Cook fruit & drink extract (strong laxative).
2. Decoct fruit & leaves in water & drink x1 cup before sleeping.
3. Grind dried leaves & eat mornings.
4. Use rind.(Admin. not specified.) (See also NOTES)

Fruit, Fruit rind, LeafZ
Gastrointestinal

Diarrhea

Anti-Infective, Anti-diarrheal

Prepare infusion of fruits & drink x1 cup/day mornings.

FruitB
Gastrointestinal

Gastric pain

Carminative

Crush fruits, mix + sugar & eat x1 teaspoon/day; optionally add water to help swallow. (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

FruitB
Gastrointestinal

Haemorrhoids

Anti-haemorrhoidal

1. Apply fresh fruit pulp as poultice to haemorrhoids.
2. Roast fruit & use as paste x2/day until healed.

FruitB
Gastrointestinal

Jaundice/ liver disease

Hepatic

1. Fill hollowed rind with milk, stand overnight & drink mornings.(Z)
2. Prepare juice from fruit & drink a few drops. (Z)
3. For liver disease: Use rind (Preparation/ Admin. not specified.) (Z)
4. (Jaundice): Apply x1 drop of fruit juice into nostril. (B) (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

Fruit, Fruit rindZ,B
Gastrointestinal

To induce diarrhea

Purgative

Rub foot with fruit (? rind). (Plant part unclear.)

Fruit rindZ
General

Ascites

Anti-hydropic

1. Decoct root & use internally (Admin. not specified.)
2. Use rind. (Peparation/Admin. not specified.)

Fruit rind RootZ
Helminth infections

Taenia; exterminate Tape worm

Anthelmintic, Vermifuge

Decoct root. (Admin. not specified.)

RootZ
Helminth infections

Worms

Anthelmintic, Vermifuge

1. Fill hollowed rind with milk, stand overnight & drink mornings.
2. Prepare juice from fruit & drink a few drops. (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

Fruit, Fruit rindZ
Infectious Diseases

Elephantiasis (See NOTES)

Anti-Infective

Use rind as a compress & apply to affected leg.

Fruit rindZ
Kidney & Urinary Tract

Diuretic

Diuretic

Decoct root & use internally. (Admin. not specified.) (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

RootZ
Musculoskeletal/ Joints

Back pain & joint pain

Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory

1.Back pain: cook fruit in oil until turns red; cool & apply to painful area x1-2/day. (B)
2. Back & joint pain: peel green fruit & boil rind in olive oil to obtain jelly. Spread on back/ joints (Z)

Fruit, Fruit rindB, Z
Musculoskeletal/ Joints

Gouty & rheumatic pain

Analgesic, Anti-arthritic, Anti-inflammatory, Uricolytic

Make compress / bandage with rind & apply to affected area.

Fruit rindZ
Musculoskeletal/ Joints

Muscle spasm

Anti-spasmodic, Muscle relaxant

1. Decoct fruits & immerse feet in hot decoction.
2. Crush fruits, mix + olive oil & apply to affected area.

FruitB
Musculoskeletal/ Joints

Rheumatism/ joint pain

Analgesic, Anti-arthritic, Anti-inflammatory

1. Squeeze fruits & apply juice to affected area daily for 2 weeks.
2. Cut fruits into 2 halves & place cut parts on affected area overnight.

FruitB
Nervous System

Epilepsy

Anti-convulsant

Cook fruit? & leaves? in olive oil & eat. (Plant part unclear.) (TOXIC See CAUTIONS)

Fruit, LeafZ
Respiratory

Asthma

Anti-asthmatic

Use rind. (Preparation/ Admin. not specified.)

Fruit rindZ

Other Uses

Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad.

System/StateComplaint / Use Activity / Interpretation Preparation and Administration
Parts Used

Source
Veterinary

Jaundice in livestock

Hepatic

Decoct fruit & leaves in water & give x1 full cup for horses, cattle, goats, sheep to drink mornings.

Fruit, LeafZ

The authors of the Flora Palaestina Ethnobotany (FPE) web site do not take responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of the plants described here. Always seek advice from a health professional before using a plant medicinally or for other purposes

1. In the recipe using Citrullus colocynthis rind as a laxative, Z mentions that to prevent abdominal cramps, "hil" (cardamon) or " sabra" (which may be Aloe ferox Mill.) can be added.
2. Citrullus colocynthis is used both as a strong laxative (Z) and also against diarrhea. (B)
3. Elephantiasis is caused by lymphatic obstruction often by parasitic worms causing enlargement and hardening of limbs or body parts due to tissue swelling. Common in parts of Africa and Asia it is no longer found locally.
Citrullus colycynthis can cause a severe purgative action with toxic doses associated with severe colic (abdominal cramps), diarrhea, nephrosis, vomiting, convulsions, paralysis & death due to circulatory collapse.