Wax Gourd plant, Petha - Benincasa Hispida syn. B. Cerifa (Cucurbitaceae)

Medicinal Use of Wax Gourd, Petha – Benincasa Hispida syn. B. Cerifa (Cucurbitaceae)


Hairy annual climber. Has 3-lobed leaves, tendrils, and large yellow flowers. Produces rounded fruit (gourds) about 16 in (40 cm) long.

Habitat & Cultivation

Native to tropical Asia and Africa, this herb is cultivated in India and China as a vegetable. The fruit is harvested in late summer.

Parts Used

Fruit rind, fruit, seeds.


Wax gourd contains saponins and guaridine.

History & Folklore

Wax gourd has been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years. It was first documented in the Tang Materia Medica, written in 659 CE.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

In Chinese herbal medicine, a decoction of wax gourd seeds is used to “drain dampness” and “clear heat.” It is given for chest conditions and vaginal discharge. In combination with Chinese rhubarb (Rheum palmatum), it is prescribed for intestinal abscesses. In Ayurvedic medicine, the seeds are used to treat coughs, fever, and excessive thirst, and to expel tapeworms. In an ancient Indian recipe, the fruit juice is mixed with lime juice (Citrus aurantiifolia) to prevent or stop bleeding.


The fruit appears to have a cancer fighting effect.