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Cucumis colocynthis L. Notes (Colocynth):

Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

Jeremiah 9:15 (KJV)

Common Names (Colocynth):

Abur (Ber.; BOU); Aferziz (Arab.; Mauritania; UPW); Ahlandal der Araber (Ger.; KAB); Alkat (Ber.; BOU); Atmaraksha (Sanskrit; KAB); Bitter Apple (Eng.; Ocn.; AH2; BOU; CR2); Bitter Cucumber (Eng.; KAB); Bitter Gourd (Eng.; BOU; CR2); Bitter Melon (Eng.; GHA); Calebasse de Serpent (Fr.; KAB); Castravete Amar (Rom.; KAB); Chicotin (Fr.; BOU); Chittipapara (Tel.; KAB); Cocomero Amaro (It.; KAB); Colocynth (Eng.; Scn.; AH2; BOU; CR2); Coloquinte (Fr.; BOU; EFS; UPW); Coloquintida (Por.; KAB); Coloquintide (It.; EFS); Corin M'bodi (Fulah; KAB); Darwawal (Las Bela; KAB); Dingel (Arab.; BOU); Donkey's Melon (Eng.; GHA); Ebucehilkarpuzu (Tur.; EFS); Endrayani (?; Nepal); Ghorumba (Hindi; KAB); Gorkaya Tikva (Rus.; KAB); Habid (Arab.; BOU); Hadaj (Arab.; BOU); Hadaq (Arab.; BOU); Hadj (Arab.; Mali; UPW); Hadja (Arab.; BOU); Haguellet (Arab.; BOU); Handal (Arab.; Nig.; Oman; Qatar; BOU; GHA; UPW); Hanzal (Arab.; EFS); Hanzul (Arab.; EFS); Hedeg (Dho.; Oman; GHA); Hedej Lehmar (Arab.; BOU); Henzil (Dec.; KAB); Hindavanahetalkh (Iran; KAB); Indrak (Guj.; KAB): Indravaruni (Ayu.; Sanskrit; AH2; JLH; KAB); Indrayan (Hindi; India; Urdu; FS; KAB); Kaddukankri (Bom.; HAB); Kharbuza-Talkt (Iran; Khiasi, Burma; KAB); Kolokvint (Den.; Nor.; Swe.; EFS; KAB); Kolokvinter (Den.; KAB); Kolokwint (Dutch; EFS); Koloquint (Ger.; EFS); Koron Mboddi (Fula; Guinea; UPW); Kurkushta (Bal.; KAB); Kwartowa (Hausa; UPW); Kwintappel (Dutch; KAB); Makhal (Beng.; KAB); Mara-ghuna (Zhob.; KAB); Marghun (Sharug; KAB); Marghuni (Sibi; KAB); Marhoum (Arab.; BOU); Merraret el Sekhour (Arab.; BOU); Murrah (Oman; GHA); Pavamekkekayi (Kan.; KAB); Peyk-kommaddi (Sri.; KAB); Peykkommutti (Mal.; KAB); Phidangourgia (Greek; JLH); Picrokolokun-thia (Greek; JLH); Pikrangougia (Greek; JLH); Purgierparadiesapfel (Ger.; EFS); Qittat en Na'am (Arab.; BOU); Sartol (Hun.; KAB); Serere (Soussou; KAB); Shary (Qatar; GHA); Shetiputsa (Sin.; KAB); Sikya Pikra (Greek; KAB); Sise (Arab.; BOU); Sisigi (Diola; Sen.; UPW); Suri (Arab.; GHA); Tadjellet (Ber.; BOU); Taferzizt (Ber.; BOU); Thorliyindrayan (Mar.; KAB); Tifersit (Ber.; BOU); Trujogosht (Sin.; KAB); (Indi Tuera (Sp.; KAB); Ubruzi (Ber.; BOU); Verittumatti (Tam.; KAB); Vicala (India; JLH); Visala (India; JLH); Wild Gourd (Eng.; CR2).

Activities (Colocynth):

Abortifacient (f; CRC; EFS; WBB; X14430893); Acaricide (1; BIB); Alterative (f; KAP; MPI); Analgesic (f; GHA); Anthelmintic (f; WO2); Antiaggregant (1; WO2); Antiandrogenic (1; X12660478); Anticholinergic (1; MPI; WO2); Antifertility (1; X12660478); Antihistaminic (1; KAB; MPI; WO2); Antihyperglycemic (1; X10904181); Antioxidant (1; X12484560); Antiperoxidant (1; X12484560); Antiproliferant (f; X14732962); Antitumor (f; X14732962); Bactericide (1; WO2); Bitter (1; KAB); Carcinogenic (1; X6746706); Cardiodepressant (1 WO2); Carminative (f; CRC; KAB; WO2); Cathartic (1; CRC; MPI); Depurative (f; WO2); Diuretic (1; KAP; MPI; WO2); Ecbolic (f; BIB; CRC); Emetic (1; MPI); Emmenagogue (f; CRC; EFS; WBB); Expectorant (1; MPI; WO2); Febrifuge (f; BIB; CRC); Hepatoprotective (1; WO2; X12484560); Herbicide (1; WO2); Hydragogue (f; CRC); Hypoglycemic (1; WO2; X10904181); Immunostimulant (1; X12963136); Insecticide (1; BIB; KAP; WBB; WO2); Insulinotropic (1; X10909260); Irritant (1; PH2); Laxative (f1; GHA; PHR); Mucoirritant (1; PHR); Negative Chronotropic (1; MPI); Negative Inotropic (1; MPI); Nematicide (1; WO2); Poison (1; PHR); Protisticide (1; WO2); Purgative (1; CRC; MPI; PH2; WBB); Refrigerant (f; KAB); Repellant (f; CRC); Ribosome Inactivator (1; X2248976); Toxic (f; EFS); Uterorelaxant (1; WO2); Vermifuge (1; BIB; CRC).

Indications (Colocynth):

Adenopathy (f; CRC; JLH); Alopecia (f; WBB); Amenorrhea (f; BIB; CRC); Anemia (f; CRC; KAB); Arthrosis (f; CRC; GHA); Ascites (f; CRC; KAP; PH2; WBB); Asthma (f; CRC; KAB); Bacteria (1; WO2); Baldness (f; WBB); Biliousness (f; BIB; CRC; KAP); Bite (f; KAP; WBB); Blennorrhagia (f; UPW); Blood (f; WO2); Breast (f; CRC); Bronchosis (f; CRC; KAB); Cancer (f1; CRC; GHA;

KAB); Cancer, abdomen (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, bladder (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, breast (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, colon (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, eye (f; CRC); Cancer, liver (f; CRC); Cancer, sinew (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, spleen (f; CRC); Carcinoma (f; CRC); Catarrh (f; HHB); Cerebrosis (f; CRC); Childbirth (f; KAB; PH2); Cholecystosis (f; PHR; PH2); Colic (f; GHA; KAP); Constipation (f1; CRC; GHA; PHR); Corn (f; CRC; JLH); Cough (f; WO2); Cramp (f; HHB; WO2); Cystosis (f; HHB; JLH); Debility (f; CRC); Dermatosis (f; BOU; UPW); Diabetes (f1; BIB; BOU; WO2; X9324004); Dropsy (f; BIB; CRC; KAP); Dysmenorrhea (f; HHB); Dyspepsia (f; CRC; KAB); Dysuria (f; CRC; KAP; WBB); Elephantiasis (f; CRC; KAB; PH2); Endothelioma (f; CRC; JLH); Enterosis (f; KAP; WO2); Epilepsy (f; BOU; CRC; KAP; WBB); Epithelioma (f; JLH); Fetal Atrophy (f; CRC); Fever (f; BIB; CRC; WO2); Frostbite (f; BIB; CRC); Gangrene (f; BIB; CRC; WO2); Gargantosis (f; CRC; KAB); Glaucoma (f; KAP); Gonorrhea (f; BOU; UPW); Gray Hair (f; KAP; WO2); Headache (f; WO2); Hemicrania (f; CRC; KAB); Hemorrhoid (f; WO2); Hepatosis (f; KAP; PHR; PH2; WO2); Induration (f; JLH); Infection (1; WBB); Inflammation (f; CRC; WO2); Itch (f; BOU); Jaundice (f; BIB; CRC; WBB); Leishmania (1; WO2); Leprosy (f; CRC); Leukemia (f; CRC; JLH); Leukoderma (f; BOU; CRC); Migraine (f; KAB; WO2); Nephrosis (f; HHB); Neuralgia (f; HHB; KAP; WO2); Neurosis (f; HHB); Ophthalmia (f; CRC; WO2); Pain (f; GHA; JLH); Paralysis (f; WO2); Parasite (f; KAP); Pediculosis (f; CRC); Protozoa (1; WO2); Rheumatism (f; BIB; CRC; KAB; KAP; WBB); Sarcoma (f; JLH); Sciatica (f; KAP); Scirrhus (f; JLH); Snakebite (f; BOU; CRC); Splenomegaly (f; CRC); Splenosis (f; JLH); Sting (f; WBB); Swelling (f; WO2); Throat (f; CRC); Tumors (f; CRC); Urogenitosis (f; BIB; WO2); Uterosis (f; CRC; KAB); Varicose Veins (f; BIB; CRC; WO2); Venereal Disease (f; UPW); Worm (1; WO2); Wounds (f; CRC; WO2).

Dosages (Colocynth):

Barely food farmacy; fruits pickled after boiling in several changes of water to remove bitter elements. Seed, removed from the poisonous pulp, is eaten in Central Sahara. Seed kernels eaten with dried dates (BIB; TAN). 120-300 mg individually/day; up to 600 mg/day (HHB). 0.2-0.4 g root powder (KAP); 0.1-0.4 g fruit powder (KAP); 3-10 ml root tea (KAP). Homeopathic dilutions only (JAD); allopathic doses no longer defensible (PH2).

• Algerians use colocynth in gargles and mouthwash, and as a counterirritant in chest cold plasters. They poultice salted rind onto frostbite (BIB).

• Arabians apply crushed leaves with garlic to bites and stings (GHA).

• Arabians apply seeds crushed in water as hair-darkening shampoo (GHA).

• Arabians mix crushed fruits with oil to massage painful arthritis (GHA).

• Asian Indians use the seed oil for bites and stings and epilepsy, and to promote hair growth (UPW).

Ayurvedics use the root for arthritic pain, breast inflammation, ophthalmia and uterine pain; and the fruit for adenopathy, anemia, ascites, asthma, bronchitis, constipation, dyspepsia, elephantiasis, fetal atrophy, jaundice, leucoderma, splenomegaly, throat diseases, tubercular glands, tumors, ulcers, and urinary discharges (KAB).

• Bedouins tie a slice of fresh gourd onto the heel before retiring for rheumatism (in the Sinai, I was told that one tastes the bitter gourd in the morning as a result) (BIB).

• Guinea natives poultice the leaves onto migraine and neuralgia (KAB).

• Lebanese apply the pulp to open varicose veins, also using it for cancer, gangrene, and wounds (BIB; HJP).

• Mauritanians with gonorrhea insert the penis into cooked fruit for circa 1 hour to treat blenorrhagia (UPW).

• Mauritanians apply baked root powder in butter or camel's milk to head lice (UPW).

• North Africans swallow one unchewed seed per day for 21 days for diabetes (BOU).

• North Africans take root decoction with garlic for snakebite (BOU).

• Unani, considering the fruit abortifacient, carminative, and purgative, use it for brain disorders, epilepsy, hemicrania, inflammation, leprosy, ophthalmia, and weakness of the limbs (KAB).

Downsides (Colocynth):

"The purgative action is so drastic as to have caused fatalities. One woman who took 120 g to induce abortion died in 50 hours. In case of poisoning, stomach evacuation is recommended, followed by oral or rectal administration of tincture of opium, followed by stimulating and mucilaginous beverages" (CRC). Toxic doses (600-1000 mg) may cause colic, diarrhea, hematchezia, nephrosis, and vomiting; lethal doses (as low as 2 g) may cause convulsions, paralysis, and possibly death due to circulatory collapse (PH2).

Natural History (Colocynth):

Despite the bitterness, the fruits are eaten by grazing animals and the seeds gathered by desert rodents. Hungry Bedouins may even eat the seed after soaking in water, able to survive nearly 2 weeks on the seed (although probably with diarrhea). Goats and wild game eat the stem and leaves (BIB); the fruit is eaten only by donkeys, gazelles, and ostriches (UPW). The following fungi affect colocynth: Colletotrichum bryoniae, Erysiphe cichoracearum, E. polyphaga, E. semitec-tum, Fusarium oxysporum, and Puccinis citrulli. The Bottle gourd mosaic virus and the nematode, Meloidogyne sp., also attack this plant (HOE).

Extracts (Colocynth):

Alpha-elaterin-2-d-glucopyranoside: anticholinergic (WO2); antihistaminic (WO2); cardiodepres-sant (WO2); purgative (WO2); uterorelaxant (WO2); toxic dose 0.5-1 g orl man; LDlo = 4000 mg orl man. Alpha-spinasterol significantly (circa 1000 X simvastin, a coenzyme-A inhibitor) modulates development and/or progression of diabetic nephropathy. It reduced significantly attendant increases of serum triglycerides, renal weight, and urinary protein excretion in diabetic mice (X15326549).

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