Bottle Gourd

Origin: The bottle gourd mostly grows in the tropical climates of Africa, Asia, America, and Europe. It is believed that the use of gourd dates back to thousands of years. History says that it was used as a container before the advent of pottery. In ancient times, the use of bottle gourd ranged from food and medicine, and as containers, artifacts, and musical instruments. It has been in use as a vegetable in India ever since 2,000 BCE.

It’s been an important part of the culture of the hill tribes Karbi and Khasi in Assam (India. These tribal people used it in various social ceremonies. They used to offer rice beer to gods and deities in it and also used it to serve guests. It was also used as a gift in declaring a couple’s engagement and was also an essential item in the marriage ceremony. Bottle gourd is also considered a symbol of longevity and good luck in China.

The bottle is believed to be originated and domesticated in Africa for a long time now. However, recent studies show its origin and native home as Asia.

Scientifically: Bottle gourd vines are quick-growing and perennial. Bottle gourd vines have hairy stems, long forked tendrils, and a musky fragrance. Many forms of the bottle gourd have been cultivated over the years.  The sizes of the vines, leaves, and flowers, as well as the sizes and shapes of the fruits, vary greatly in various types of bottle gourd. The forms are named for the shape of the fruit—e.g., club, dipper, dolphin, kettle, and trough. The fruits of some varieties may be more than 1 meter (about 3 feet) long. The plants easily grow from seed but require a long hot growing season to mature as a fruit.

Botanically, bottle gourd is known as Lagenaria siceraria and belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae. It is usually in white to light green in color. 

Usage: Bottle gourd has always been regarded as one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. Bottle gourd is a very versatile vegetable and is full of water (about 92%) and minerals and keeps your body hydrated at all times. It has a rich source of vitamin C, K, and calcium. It helps in maintaining a healthy heart and brings down bad cholesterol levels of the blood.

The juice extracted from Bottle gourd is also beneficial for diabetic patients as it stabilizes the blood sugar level and maintains blood pressure. The juice has a cooling effect on your body and keeps your body hydrated especially during summers. It keeps your stomach cool and reduces body heat during summers.
Bottle gourd is packed with fiber which helps in keeping you full for longer and it is also low in calories, hence supports weight loss.
Bottle gourd juice is highly recommended for clear and glowing skin. It works wonder in clearing out acne and other skin issues.

Below are some DIYs with bottle gourd:

-    Extract some fresh bottle gourd juice and apply on the hair roots. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then shampoo. This strengthens the hair roots and prevents premature graying of the hair.
-    Take a cup of bottle gourd juice with some amla powder and a tablespoon of olive oil. Apply this thick paste on your hair strands and let it stay for an hour. Shampoo and condition your hair as you usual. This hair pack makes hair shiny and healthy.
-    Mix equal quantities of fresh amla juice and bottle gourd juice. Massage this concoction on to your hair roots. Keep it on for 25-30 minutes. Shampoo later. This helps in promoting hair growth and reduces dandruff.
-    Grate some bottle gourd, and add cucumber juice, yogurt and gram flour (besan). Combine all the ingredients together. Apply this as a face pack and let it dry for 20 minutes.  Wash it off later. This helps in achieving clear and refreshed skin.
-    Take some bottle gourd juice and apply on the face for 10 minutes. Rinse later. This helps in soothing the acne and reduces blemishes.
-    Applying chilled bottle gourd juice on the sunburnt areas or any inflamed skin helps in soothing the area.