Evidence Based Ethnopharmacological  Uses of  Trichosanthes cucumerina  var. cucumerina (L.) Haines.,(Cucurbitaceae) by Gond tribe of Gondia District of Maharashtra State, India


V J Tiwari

P G Department of Botany, J M Patel College, Bhandara 441 904, Maharashtra State, India

*Corresponding Author E-mail: vijaysstiwari@gmail.com



The ethnopharmacological  survey of Gond Tribe of Gondia district of Maharashtra State reveals that seeds of Trichosanthes cucumerina var. cucumerina  (TCC) are used to cure tonsillitis and fever. In order to establish rationale behind ethnopharmacological uses a comprehensive survey of literature on reports of ethnomedicinal, phytochemical and pharmacological work was conducted. Ethno medicinal uses were corroborated with chemical and biological activities. An attempt is made to check authenticity and validity of herbal drug on the basis of reported research work.


KEYWORDS: Ethnopharmacology, Gond Tribe, Trichosanthes cucumerina, Evidence, Validity.




The World Health Organisation  has estimated that 80% of population of developing countries like India rely on traditional medicine mostly plant drug for their primary health care. The use of traditional herbal medicine in most developing countries as therapeutic agents for the maintenance of good health has been widely observed. WHO has published a number of guidelines for clinical evaluation of the herbal and traditional medicines. WHO  stated that “traditional medicines, of proven quality, safety, and efficacy, contribute to the goal of ensuring that all people have access to care. For many millions of people, herbal medicines, traditional treatments, and traditional practitioners are the main source of health care, and sometimes the only source of care. This is care that is close to homes, accessible and affordable. It is also culturally acceptable and trusted by large numbers of people.

The affordability of most traditional medicines makes them all the more attractive at a time of soaring health-care costs and nearly universal austerity. Traditional medicine also stands out as a way of coping with the relentless rise of chronic non communicable diseases.” The use of traditional herbal medicine in most developing countries as therapeutic agents for the maintenance of good health has been widely observed. In India 65% of population depend on ethnomedicine which is only source of the primary health care needs. India is one of the twelve megabiodiversity country of the world having rich vegetation with a wide variety of plants with medicinal value. Over 227 ethnic groups of people residing in about 5000 villages of India. In many countries scientific investigation of medicinal plants have been initiated because of their contribution to health care. It is the urgent need of time to collect information about ethnomedicinal uses of plants by rural and tribal population. Recently various ethnobotanical studies have been conducted to explore the knowledge about medicinal plants from various tribal communities. Documenting the indigenous knowledge through ethnobotanical  studies is important for conservation of biological resources as well as their sustainable utilization.About 1500 plants with medicinal uses are mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic system of Indian medicine. Ayurveda is a medical system primarily practiced in India that has been known for 5000 years. It include diet and herbal remedies for  cure of diseases. Kamboj (2000) mention about basic requirement for gaining popularity of herbal medicine depends on

1. well documented traditional use

2. single plant medicine

3. Standardization of herbal drugs

4. Saftey and Stability


Most of the existing texts on ethnomedicine deal only with medicinal plant and their uses ignoring chemical and pharmacological aspects. Reflecting the current interest in developing ethno medicine the author attempted to fill this gap by supplementing a text of chemical and biological activity. The author discusses the role of scientific evidences in supporting ethno medicinal claims for TC made by other tribes of India. A large number of chemical and pharmacological studies need to be reviewed which will provide substantial evidences in favors of traditional uses of plant species. The increasing evidences in favor of herbal drug authenticate its uses. Thus medicinal claims ascribed to a plant are needed to be validated by modern approach of study, thus providing a scientific rationale to medicinal uses of plants. Sometimes data on the plant is inadequate hence such plants needs urgent attention for further study. In such cases the presence of bioactive principles are being detected which may be responsible for medicinal property of plant. The present study has been undertaken as there are few ethnobotanical reports viz., Ghosal et. al.(2013); Tiwari (2013); Patale et. al .(2015). Recently review articles on Trichosanthes was  published by Chao (1990); Dharmananda (2001); Rekha et.al.(2015).



The  word Gondia  consist of two words Gond and  ia. The literary meaning is permanent dwellings of Gond tribe. Gondiya district of state of Maharashtra lies between 200 39”  and 210 38” NL  and  790 27” and 800 42” EL. The district lies in the basin of Wainganga  river and  Bagh, Chulband, Gadhvi, Bawanthadi rivers are its tributaries. The major part of the district is characterized by undulating topography with dense forest. The Wainganga river is having a length 0f 200 km. in the district. The Wainganga valley forms a central depression in the district occupying two third of its area. The valley is formed over archaean crystalline terrain and is covered by riverine alluvium. The district possesses water reservoirs in the form of ponds, lakes and tanks. These water bodies served as a socio-agrarian system and life line of various communities. These water bodies are prepared for traditional water harvesting for agriculture and few are more than 200 years old. This district is also known as Lake District of Maharashtra with highest number of lakes about 800-850 distributed throughout the district. Rice is the cash crop of farmers. The surrounding forest is of dry deciduous and mixed type where trees and bamboo  are predominant.The district is famous for Nagzira Wild Life Sanctury and Nawegaon National Park. Nagzira santury is adorned withj picturesque landscape, luxuriant vegetation and wild animals viz., tiger, leopards, deer, sambar, nilgai, wild boar, wild dogs, monkeys etc. The Nawegaon Park is known for biggest lake set amidst lush green hills. It is famous bird watching spot. Many migratory birds visit the lake every winter. People oftenly visits Nagzira and Nawegaon for jungle safari tours.


The district is divided into eight tehsils viz., Amgaon, Arjuni Morgaon, Deori, Gondiya, Goregaon, Sadak Arjuni and Salekasa. Of these Deori and Salekasa tehsils are inhabited by Gond Tribe. They speak Marathi mixed Gondi language. Their villages are situated deep in the forest. Total population 13,22635 of these 196455 are tribal peoples. Total area of the district is 5425 sq.kms. ,of these 2895.67 sq.kms. is the forest cover. Total 954 villages comprise Gondia district.


Gonds live in thatched houses, walls plastered with mud. Few better ones live in concrete houses. The cattle sheds, earthen wares, utensils, hunting, fishing and agriculture equipments are their materialistic possessions. They are animistic. Many parts of the forest and hills are their sacred groves. Still they practice magico-religious beliefs. Most of them are known for their skills in handicraft and wood design work. Their staple food is seeds flour of kodon (Paspalum scrobiculatum); kutki (Panicum miliare);  jowar (Sorghum vulgare) and rice. Pulses and wheat are limited in their regular diet. They eat variety of wild edible plants. Their women wrap a sari around waist and adorn their neck with number of black beaded necklaces. They wear choli or blouse. They tattoo their forehead and arms. Men wear dhoti which is loin piece of cloth wrapped around waist passing through legs.


The present study is undertaken in Deori tehsil of Gondiya district. It is 90 kms from Bhandara district.It is connected to national highway. The tehsil is located at 210 04” N latitude and 800 22” E longitudes. The area under study is indicated in the Map. Total ten tribal villages viz., Jamnapur, Zunjaritola, Murdoli, Sahakepar, Tekabedar, Kham Talav, Kawlewada, Bhagi, Khadki and Charbhata were selected for the present study.



Fruit of Trichosanthes cucumerina 



Trichosanthes cucumerina L., Sp.Pl. (1753)1008 var. cucumerina Haines., Bot. Bihar Orissa 3:388(1922)

Local Name: Gondi language- Kawleya-Cha-Khaja

Herbarium Sheet Acession Number: VJT - 542

Annual, monoecious; stem 12-15 feet long, slender, furrowed, slightly hairy or sub glabrous, leafy. Tendrils 2-3(usually 3-)fid. Leaves 2-5 inch long, usually a little broader than long, orbicular-reniform or broadly ovate, distantly denticulate, more or less deeply 5 –(rarely 3-7) lobed, the lobes broad, acute, glabrous or nearly so above, more or less pubescent, or when old sometime scabrid beneath, base deeply cordate, the sinus often sub rectangular; petioles 1-3 inch long, striate pubescent. Male flowers in axillary racemes, with sometimes a solitary axillary flower from the same axil as the raceme; peduncles of the raceme 2-6 inch long, slender, striate, bearing 8-15 flowers near the apex; pedicles puberulous, 1/3 – ¾ inch long; bract absent. Calyx tube dilated at the apex, ¾ - 1 inch long, about 1/8 inch wide at the mouth; teeth short, acute triangular. Petals white, 3/8 inch long, lanceolate-oblong, lacinate at the apex. Female flowers axillary, solitary or occasionally a female flower in the same axil as the male peduncles.Peduncles of female flower 1/8-5/8 inch long. Fruit 1-3 inch long, ovoid-fusiform, tapering at both the ends with a long sharp beak, green and striped with white when immature, scarlet when ripe, yellow when dry. Pericarp thin. Seed semi-ellipsoid. Compressed, rugulose embedded in red pulp. Flowering-July-December and Fruiting-December-January


NOTE: This plant is often confused with T.anguina L., Sp.Pl.(1753)p.1008. The snake gouard of Anglo-Indians. The fruit of this gourd often attain 3 feet in length with a thickness of 3 inch. The leaves and flowers are like those of T. cucumerina, but the fruit is entirely different. T.anguina is a cultivated plant for edible fruit. (Cook 1901).


Cooper and Boer (2011) reported two varieties of Trichosanthes


1.T.cucumerina var. anguina (L.)Haines,Bot.Bihar Orissa 3:388 (1922). This  is a cultivated variety for its fruits edible as vegetable.Fruits are 2 to 3 feet in length with a thickness of 3 inch.


2.T.cucumerina var.cucumerina Haines, Bot. Bihar Orissa 3:388(1922).This plant is a wild variant. Fruit 1-3 inch long, ovoid-fusiform. Fruits are not edible. This plant is used as a medicine.


Kanakasabapathi et.al.(2015) formed two subspecies of Trichosanthes

1.T.cucumerina L.,Subsp. anguina (L.)I.Greb

2.T.cucumerina L.,Subsp.cucumerina Haines.


The study was carried out among ten tribal villages of Deori tehsil. During year 2013 and 2014 field visits were conducted in the study area indicated in the Map. The traditional healers or medicine men locally known as Vaidu were interviewed. Good rapport was established with them in order to reveal their secret knowledge about plants. They were cross questioned to know about real medicinal uses. Help of interpreters was sought for conversation and understanding of Gondi language. The herbarium specimen was prepared, identified and deposited in the herbarium of P G Department of Botany, J M Patel College, Bhandara. The photographs of seed and fruit were taken from Canon SLR Camera. The reported medicinal use of plant is accepted because majority of healers of different villages have given similar information. The main objective of the paper was to establish rationale behind ethnopharmacological use of TC hence a comprehensive literature survey was conducted through e-library facilities. Phytochemical and pharmacological data on TCC which is also used in Ayurveda were collected for corroboration between ethnomedicinal uses and reported literature. If any kinds of corroboration exist then comments are made in the part of discussion. The main aim and objective of the present paper was to check validity of medicinal use of seeds of TCC for the cure of tonsillitis and fever. However medicinal uses of fruits and seeds of TCC by other ethnic groups have been taken into consideration. These uses are corroborated with chemical and biological activities reported on the plant. The medicinal  uses of root, leaves, stem have simply avoided to limit the literature. Tonsillitis is the inflammation of tonsils associated with fever and pain. The prescribed medical drugs for the tonsillitis include antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic property. Therefore while collecting the pharmacological data special emphasis have been given on these properties. Other pharmacological activities have been simply rejected to avoid distraction.



Two and half seeds are taken on empty stomach early in the morning and evening  for three consecutive days to cure tonsillitis, fever and swelling on the neck. Seeds are not chewed but swallowed with water. If patient do not get relief from single dose then doses are repeated  after seven days.


Ayurvedic Uses:

Root and seeds are cooling, anthelminthic, purgative and vermifuge and are useful in vitiated condition of Pitta, syphilis and verminosis. Leaves are cooling. The fruit is sweet, cooling digestive, carminative, purgative, anthelmintic, febrifuge and tonic. Fruits are useful in vitiated condition of Pitta, burning sensation, anorexia, dyspepsia, flatulence, constipation, helminthiasis, fever and general weakness (Warrier et. al. 1996)Decoction with ginger and honey is used as febrifuge, laxative and alterative. In Konkan region leaf juice rubbed over liver in liver congestion. Root juice taken as purgative. It is strong gastrointestinal irritant. Seeds are given in disorder of stomach. (Nadkarni 1976)


Ethnomedicinal Uses:

Subramanayam and Newmaster (2009) –Irulas- Ripe fruit extract applied on forehead to cure headache.

Rahamatullah et. al. (2012)- Bede, Chakma, Garo, Khasia, Marma, Murong, Santal, Tripura- A combination of seed and fruit orally administered for diabetes and tuberculosis. It is topically applied over dermatitis

Alwa and Ray (2012); Bharti( 2015)- Gond, Panika, Bhaira, Muria, Kol, Baiga, Bhil, Bhilala, Barela, Patelia – Fruit are kept in water for 12 hours and used to give bath to patient suffering from jaundice

Tripathy e.t al. (2014)- Ho,Santhal- Fruit used to cure stomach worms and antidiabetic

Salah Uddin et. al. (2015)- Lushai – Fruit and seeds given orally to control irregular menstruation.

Pendam et. al. (2015)- Yerukulas, Lambadis- Fruit applied on skin diseases


Phytochemical  Profile :

Chopra et. al. (1956)- β -sitosterol its glucoside and Luteolin-7-glucoside reported  from leaves


Hussain et.al.(1992)-Cucurbitacin B, Cucurbitacin E; Isocucurbitacin B; 23, 24-dihydroisocucurbitacin B; 23,24-dihydrocucurbitacin E; β -sitosterol and stigmasterol.


Jiratchariyakul and Frahm (1992)- 23, 24-dihydroisocucurbitacin D, 3β -hydroxy-olean-13(18)-en-28-oic acid; 3-oxo-olean-13(18)-en-30-oic acid and the sterol 3-O- β -glucopyranosyl-24ξ  -ethylcholest-7,22-dien-3 –ol.


Padma et. al. (1999) Galactose specific lectin purified in high yield 350mg/100gm from deshelled seeds isolated by affinity chromatography on cross-linked guar gum.


Kenoth et. al. (2003) - Physiochemical and saccaride-binding studies on galactose specific lectin from seeds.

Ekam (2003)- Oxalate,phytates and tannins present. Seed oil content 42.5 %.


Adebooye (2008) - Proteins, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamin A and E. The total phenolic and flavonoid content is 46.8% and 78.0%.


Rekha et. al. (2015) -  Flavonoids, caretenoids, phenolic acids. A novel flavones glucosidal 5,6,6’-trimethoxy-3’;        4’-methylene-dioxyisoflavone-7-O-β-D-(2”-O-p-coumaroylgluco-pyranoside present. Sterols viz., Cycloartenol A, Parkeol H and Litsomentol G isolated

Yusuf et.al. (2007) - Fruit per 100 gm. contain Water (94g), protein (0.6g), fat( 0.3g), carbohydrate(4g), Fibre (0.8g), Ca (26mg), Fe( 0.3g), P( 20mg), Vitamin B1 (0.02mg), Vitamin B2 (0.03g), Niacin (0.3g),Vitamin C(12mg).


Pharmacological Profile :

Anti-inflammatory Activity

Kage et. al.(2010) – Chloroform and EtOH extract of seed administered orally reduces carrageenin induced paw oedema in Wistar Rats at dose level 200 mg and 400 mg/kg.


Arawwawala et. al.(2010) – Hot water extract doses 500, 750, 1000 mg/kg. produces significant inhibition of inflammation at 5 hrs. after injection of carrageenin.


Anti-bacterial Activity

Kage et. al. (2009)– Petroleum ether, Chloroform, ethanol and distil water extract of plant show activity against Escherchia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Psuedomonas aerguinosa, Staphylococcus aureus.


Reddy et. al. (2010) – Chloroform , methanol and ethyl acetate extract of leaves shows antibacterial activity against Bacillus cerus, Enterobacter faecalis, salmonella paratyphi, Escherchia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus faecalis, Proteus vulgaris, Klebsiella pneumonia, Serratia marcescens, Psuedomonas aeruginosa


Osuagwu and Ejikeme (2015) – antibacterial activity against Salmonella typhi, Psuedomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherchia coli, Enterobacter faecalis


Analgesic Activity

Nayeem and Karvekar (2010) – MeOH extract of leaves shows analgesic activity.

Gill et.al. (2012) – EtOH extract of seed  shows analgesic activity.


Anti-diabetic Activity

Kar et. al.  (2003)- Hypoglycaemic activity of plants in alloxan diabetic rats

Kirana and Srinivasan (2008)- Extract improves glucose tolerance and tissue glycogen in non insulin diabetes mellitus induced rats.

Arawwalwala et. al. (2009) - Hot water extract of aerial parts shows antidiabetic activity in normal and streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.

Adeeyo et. al .(2011) – Oral administration of aqueous extract prevent renal abnormalities in diabetic alloxan induced rabbits


Anti-fertility Activity:

Kage et. al.(2009)- EtoH extract of whole plant at dose of 200 and 400 mg./kg body weight orally administered affected the normal estrous cycle showing a significant increase in estrus and met estrus phases and decrease in diestrus and pro estrus phases The extract reduced number of healthy follicles and corporea lutea and increase the number of regressive follicles.

Akinsola et. al. (2012) MeOH extract of seeds decreases testes weight when simultaneous induction of 400 mg/ml of Estradiol and 1250 mg/ml of testosterone with respect to body weight given to rats.


Akinsola et. al. (2012)- The combined administration of testosterone and estradiol caused an increase in the seminal vesicle size which was observed to be reversed by MeOH extract of seeds.


Anti-helminthic Activity

Murthy et. al. (2012)- MeOH extract exhibited significant diuretic and antihelminthic activity against Pheretima posthuma when compared with standard Albendazole.



Genus Trichosanthes consists of 100 species out of which TC is mostly worked out. In the process of investigation author found references only on TC but failed to trace references related to  its variety TCC therefore it restrict author  to limit his literature survey to TC. Phytochemical data and pharmacological work on TC is considered to interpret ate the tribal medicinal uses  of TC. Trichosanthin is a  protein and Cucurbitacins is a alkaloid.These are two major active principles of plant. These chemicals owns a wide spectrum of biological and pharmacological activities. TCS exhibits various activities such as immunomodulatory, antitumor, antiviral and anti HIV activities (Li et.al.1991)


Cucurbitacins are very important phytochemical  isolated from various species of Trichosanthes. It is a class of highly oxidized  triterpenoid reported to have promising anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity (Alghasham 2013; Chung et. al. 2015, Lee et.al. 2010).


Galactose specific lectins anticancer compounds has been isolated from TC by Padma et. al. (1999). may be useful in removal of scars.


The Gond tribe of Devri tehsil use seeds of TCC to cure of  tonsillitis and fever. This use appears to be valid because antibacterial activities has been reported Kage et. al.(2009); Reddy et. al. (2010); Osuagwu et. al.(2015) and anti-inflammatory activities elicited by Kage et. al. (2010),Arawwawala et.al. (2010).However antipyretic activity on TCC is not reported till now.


Ho, Santhal, Bede, Chakma, Garo, Khasia, Marma, Murong, Tripura tribes use seed and fruit as antidiabetic. This use rationalizes because anti-diabetic activity have been  reported by Kar et. al. 2003; Arawwalwala et. al.(2009) and Adeeyo et. al. 2011.  Bede, Chakma, Garo, Khasia, Marma, Murong, Tripura tribes use seed and fruit to cure tuberculosis.This use show validiation as antibacterial property have been reported by many workers.

Ho and Santhal Tribes uses fruits to cure stomach worms. This use is reliable on the basis of antihelminthic property  reported by Murthy et. al.(2012).


Lushai tribe use fruits and seeds to cure irregular menstruation lack pharmacological validation because such type of activity is not reported. The combined administration of testosterone and estradiol caused an increase in the seminal vesicle size which was observed to be reversed by MeOH extract of seeds was reported by Akinsola et. al (2012).


 Application of fruit extract on forehead to cure headache by Irulas tribe get supporting evidence from its analgesic activity reported by Gill et. al.(2012).


 Bhil, Bhilala, Barela, Patelia, Gond, Panika, Bhaira, Muria, Kol, Baiga keep fruits in water for twelve hours, which is then used to give bath to a patient suffering from jaundice. This use indicates their strong magico-religious belief about the plant.



The ethnomedicinal uses of TCC by tribes to cure diseases like headache,diabetes, tuberculosis, tonsillitis, antihelmintic appears to possess scientific base because pertinent chemical and biological activity have been reported. The available literature does not validate the use of fruit and seed for irregular menstruation, dermatitis and skin diseases. The absence of readily accessible comparative source of ethno pharmacological data has been regarded as a serious hindrance. Though few reports mention the use of TC in divergent parts of India but there is a great need to examine efficacy of these herbal medicines in the basis of modern scientific parameters. Due to paucity of phytochemical work it is difficult to validate the ethnopharmacological uses of plant. Looking into the medicinal potential of the plant there is immediate need to focus on phytochemical study of this plant.



The author is thankful to Dr. Vikas Dhomne, Principal, J M Patel College, Bhandara. for providing basic infrastructure to carry out present research work and Dr. Abhay Ittadwar, Principal, Guru Nanak College of Pharmacy, Nari, Nagpur for providing  library facility. Special thanks to Dr. Shrikant Tillo, Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacognosy, Guru Nanak College, Nagpur for constructive criticism and valuable suggestions.



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Received on 01.10.2016       Modified on 15.10.2016

Accepted on 02.11.2016      ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Pharmacognosy and Phytochem. 2016; 8(4): 209-216.

DOI: 10.5958/0975-4385.2016.00031.5